Thursday, December 5, 2013
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”—Martin Luther
It has been awhile since I have written. There have been several false starts for me as I look at my ‘drafts’ file for this blog. As a result, I shall endeavor to inform you of the current ‘seasonal changes’ in our life.
Waiting on the Lord
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27:14
A Brief History
In May 2011, Cora and I journeyed to North Carolina to the International CEF conference. As I told the story in my previous blogs, I believed I was to “go and listen” and in His timing, God would show me what was next. That ended up being the word “surrender.” I needed to learn what that meant, not only for me, but also for both of us. Cora and I began to pray for me to get out of the truck so I would be more available for Gods leading.
During this ‘season’, we worked on our finances with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We were doing ok, but we saw where we needed more some discipline in areas. God was working in our hearts and teaching us multiple lessons, showing us areas that we (mostly me) needed to work on. Please bear in mind that the majority of these lessons have been a major paradigm shift for me. I have to think more now about my wife and how decisions affect us, rather than me. I never had to think that way for 48 years. Yet, the more we prayed, the more restless I became. I knew that God was preparing me for something but I was not sure what it would be, when, and for how long. My attitude began to be “God will let us know when we are ready, even if we do not think we are.” I was right. We were not ready for Him.
"The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin … Exo 34:6b-7a
Being a child of God is not so easy in this world. Of course, if I look at being His child in America, I might think otherwise. Oh, I have it soooo tough. “Uh God, I really want this other thing … could you work it so it would work out to my/our advantage so (insert your situation here)?” Yes, there are people dying all around us because they want a Bible, want to go to church, have a desire for more than food for the body. They hunger for the Word of God and the fellowship of other believers. What have I been doing … other than whining to God that things are not going according to the way I planned them? I do not like it this way. I will just call on God to change these things, that way I do not have to deal with it. It is in God’s hands now; I prayed about it. ‘Nuff said/’nuff done. Yeah … right.
I see so many Christians today (please note, I am talking about me) that really are a bunch of spoiled, stubborn and stiff-necked people. It reminds me of another bunch of similar people. Let’s see … who were those folks? Um … oh, I remember now … they were God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel. How could I forget that? Most times, I am in so much deep and hot water with God. Given the nature of man (me) and the fallen state of man (me), I am surprised that God has not turned this particular man into an unobtrusive grease spot, at some remote location in the universe.
Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Psalms 2:11
A couple of months ago I read a book by Joseph S. Carroll called How to Worship Jesus Christ. It is from Moody Press. It is only 90 pages, but it took me a couple of days to go through it. I am going to start it again. Then I will re-read another book called Humility by Andrew Murray. A very special friend of ours, a lady of great wisdom from CEF headquarters, gave this book to Cora and me as a gift. It is one hundred ten pages of short, succinct, and amazing steps to humility in and with a relationship with the God and Savior of this universe. I have come to understand my relationship with the Sovereign God should be the attitude of Job, after God finished talking to him. “I am a worm. Who am I to give God counsel on how to run the universe?” Job 40:4; 42:3
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. Isa 55:8
I like listening to podcasts of R.C. Sproul, John McArthur, John Piper and others. These are just a few of my “Hero’s of the Faith” in this generation. In one of R.C.’s lectures, he explains how he is usually very tactful and sensitive to the needs of those in pastoral counseling. However, in this one particular session an angry man was shaking his fist at R.C. and complaining about how his (R.C.’s) God was not a Merciful God. The angry man had just lost his child to SIDS. R.C. explained in his lecture that he usually did not take the particular tack that he did. R.C. bluntly asked the man why God did not strike the man down where he stood because of the blasphemous words coming out of his mouth at that moment. Consider in that lesson that the spiritual 2x4 had been applied right between the eyes, at full force. It affected me in the same manner. The reasons why God does things are not ours to contemplate. They are God’s to know the reasons why. I need to learn how to accept them with the gratitude of a sinful slave that has been redeemed by the Master.
As a result, I have had to do some evaluation on some of the things in my life. A ‘re-setting’ of values and priorities. Obviously, this is NOT an overnight process. Nor is it completed in a season. This is a constant re-adjustment from the things of man to the things of God. Questions I have been asking myself are, “Do I NEED this?” “Is this necessary?” “Will this honor God … or man?” “Who benefits if I do/don’t do such and such?” “Is my heart in it for God … or elsewhere?” These are just some of the questions that I am continually asking myself. Other questions can and/or should be asked … for each of us. The process is called sanctification. It is something that all Christians must go through, never being completed until we stand before God. This process of sanctification is a very humbling one and I am very grateful to God for helping me to comprehend, apply, and accomplish it daily. I must mention that I do spend a lot of time getting up from where I fell down in this process.
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalms 46:10
In mid-August of this year, my driving position at the trucking company was abruptly terminated. After several weeks of thrashing about in anger, frustration, and selfishness—disguised as the “poor me” syndrome, I began to pray and pray more earnestly about what God would have us do. In this current economy, not too many people are willing to hire a grumpy, old, used and abused, worn-out truck driver … especially trucking companies. I did manage to find a temporary job running a “spud truck” for the potato harvest in October to carry us through the transition period. Now that spud truck job was a unique experience and I will not go into much detail about it.
When I was in high school, I was in the Future Farmers of America. I learned enough about the field part of the harvest to know that it was not something to be taken lightly, but I never went into any depth. With this temporary job, I learned what a harvest operation entails. As a result, I have been using the knowledge learned to apply in my own life. I could fill the pages here with metaphors … but I will spare you. You’re welcome. Once that job ended, I needed to see what was next. I was not sure what God had in mind for us.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Pro 3:5
Cora and I had been praying for “the next step” in this evolution of trusting God. What would the next job be for me and how would it affect my relationship with God, Cora, and family, etc. All I could do was wait on Him. I began thinking over the things that God had put me through and what some of those lessons meant to me. I also wondered what He might be preparing me to do. Before I married Cora, I had a quiet hunger to attend some sort of Bible College. I mostly blew it off as a ‘pipe dream’ ... too old, too busy, too broke, too … whatever excuse I could use. I had attended a local community college in 2003 and found that I had a hunger for knowledge I did not know I had. Now with me being married, I needed to focus on securing the things that made us “comfortable” so we could lead that quiet life of following Christ. See 1Th 4:11 and 2Th 3:12 for further explanations. I was thinking college is not a viable option; there must be something else on the horizon. God knows what we need and His next step was for us to re-evaluate our priorities. Because of that re-evaluation, the old desire for Bible College came back, quite vigorously I might add.
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." Mat 21:22
I kept thinking, “Bible College …at my age?” We started looking in earnest. I wanted to make sure this was not a ‘panic button’ decision, mid-life crisis, or some such. Prayer was our first step, seeking peace in and for the future. This was followed by trying to find a ‘college’ to see if this was what we were to do. We looked at Moody Bible College, both campuses: the main one in Chicago, IL and the satellite campus in Spokane, WA. Our preference was the Spokane campus because it is in the Pacific Northwest and closer to family. We looked at George Fox U., Corban U., New Hope Bible College, Northwest Christian U., and Multnomah U., and several other schools. It boiled down to ‘the most bang for the buck’ in a school that would equip us to go wherever God wanted us to go when we finished. That turned out to be Multnomah University in Portland, OR. They require a dual degree: one degree in Bible and Theology, a passion of mine, the other, a major or minor in your degree of choice. I was impressed with their “New Testament Greek.” Because of this choice, I believe I need to invent a rapid hair growth tonic so I can pull out my hair in frustration as I learn ‘Koine Greek’.
I have since started the application process to Multnomah University or MU if you prefer. There is still no guarantee that I will be accepted into the programs I want, but I have placed that worry in the Lords hands. For me, I have a peace about the direction that my life is about to take. I cannot answer for Cora. I know that she does have concerns, as she has voiced them to me and we have talked them over. She is very good at helping me to evaluate options that I did not think of, did not think to look at, or refused to look at. I am VERY grateful for her input. This decision process would not have been very easy without her help and support. I am praying that God will clear the way to see the goal He has for us, albeit one day at a time. I believe that it is at MU, studying Theology and New Testament Greek and that is what I am praying will happen.
“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Hab 3:18
So this is what we are aiming for: This step of faith. We are trusting that God will lead us through this season of transition. Faith that God knows what we need, that He will provide it when we need it and He will not give it to us until His time is right. We just have to be willing to wait on the Lord, trusting that He is Sovereign and that we are His children. Will you pray with us, please?
For His glory only,