25.4.12

Abiding Takes a Little Bit of Faith.


It is summer time here; the end of the school year was in March. During the school year I had done a fairly considerable amount of time traveling, encouraging, and mobilizing young people to spend their summer on missions with Nehemiah Teams.

Now I am traveling around documenting those students who responded to God’s call and are spending their summer doing VBS, door-to-door evangelism, and trying to begin Bible Studies that will develop into house churches.

I am living out of two backpacks. I have 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants. I have a sleeping pad that blows up. My camera. And a voice recorder. I moved out of my seminary apartment and all of my in-country belongings are piled up in a spare room at my supervisor’s house. I am a homebody. This traveling around is not easy on me, and sometimes I find myself longing for my own bed and my own space only to remember that all I really have is a pile in a friend’s house.

Now please, do not misunderstand me. I am well aware of the house that James has built for me. I know it is mine. And I do look forward to it-long for it even; but it requires a bit of faith to believe that it is really there.

Last week, I was on Camotes Island, basically a rock with a bit a soil. I followed the team around (two of which I knew before going, one from seminary and one from a mobilization effort) as they shared, testified, and opened doors to sharing the Gospel amongst a lost people. I held the skinniest baby I have ever seen, watched a man take a break from making baskets to sell to listen to the Gospel, and in general took in the poverty and malnutrition as prayerfully as I could manage.

At one Bible Study in particular the Lord spoke to me, reminding me why I am doing what I am doing. Why I am where I am.

My Bible had opened to 1 John and for some reason chapter 2 verse 28 caught my eye.
“And now little children, abide in him so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” 
The concept of a shame here is basically a stronghold. Ulaw. Shame here is complex. It can mean shy, embarrassed, disgraced, humiliated, and probably even more than I realize. And much like Adam and Eve when people are ashamed or have ‘ulaw’ they avoid. The run away. They shrink back.

I read the verse, and thought, “What a pretty verse.” and continued listening to the Bible Study. A little while later questions were being asked about the story, but no one seemed willing to break the silence. After allowing more than enough time, and trying to re-ask the question in different ways, finally the leader asked, “Are you too ashamed to answer?” The woman sitting next to me looked him straight in the eye and said a very confident, “Yes”.

My pretty green and white house is waiting for me; it is promised. It is assured. My momentary discomfort is a blip in time, but that house will be the rest of my life.  It is that hope that makes today seem like a very small sacrifice. And likewise, it is the assurance of heaven and the hope of an eternal home that makes my time on this earth have purpose.

My life has meaning. I abide in Him. I will not shrink away from His coming. And that is why I am here. My father has said (I am not sure who said it first though.) that he is going to heaven and he wants to take as many people he can with him.

It breaks my heart to think about people shrinking away in shame from God. He is the ONLY good thing is this life. I realize that I cannot choose for people, and that I cannot promise a better life.  Even if they come to the Lord they will mostly likely stay impoverished. And truthfully, life might even become worse (in many ways) because of the persecution in this area.

I am here, to encourage people to Christ. I am here to challenge young people to take the Gospel to the unreached areas of the Philippines. I am here, to challenge my friends back home and beg them to pray for a mighty work of the Lord in the Philippine Islands.

My prayer for Nehemiah Teams has become that they can be faithful and determined in sharing the Gospel clearly. That God will soften the hearts of their listeners and help them understand the Gospel. That the barrier of shame can be broken and that redemption can take place so that when the Lord comes it will not be like when He came to the garden. And caught Adam and Eve scrambling around to hide themselves suddenly realizing their nakedness.

Please join me in praying for the 80+ Filipino young people that are sharing the truth about the one and only God during their summer vacation.

And I pray also for you, church family that you too can abide in Him, and instead of shrinking away from His coming look forward to it, like the home that it is. And just like it takes a bit of faith to believe that I have a home in America waiting for me, that you live remembering you have a home in heaven. Waiting just for you.

That you live ready to embrace the one who prepared it. Who would shrink back from the man who built her a beautiful home? (Not me, anyway.)

I realize that a house of wood and cement is nothing compared to heaven, but for the moment it is what my brain can comprehend. And I praise God for His voice that teaches me, reminds me, and sometimes even shows me what this life is really all about.

I have the hope of heaven. I have the assurance of His word. I am here, so that others might have the same.
  


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