At least two months before the missions conference at our home church, I was asked to do the devotional at a ladies tea. I agreed to do it and knew what I wanted to share. That is, I thought I knew. But when I sat down to write it out it just wouldn’t come together. I cried and prayed and cried and prayed. Until the morning of the tea, when I was confident that I finally had on paper what God wanted me to say.
As I waited for my turn to stand and speak, I read over what I had typed out. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t the sweet ladies tea devotional they were probably expecting! Was I really going to get up there and say THAT? But after all the tears and prayers, begging God to help me to say what HE alone wanted me to say, I knew that there was no turning back. Praise the Lord for His grace and strength and answered prayers, no matter how scary!
My devotional follows:
My earliest memory is of my church nursery. When I was a preschooler, I was singing in church. As an elementary student and then a teenager I was part of a girls’ trio. I was my church’s summer pianist and a soloist as well. I was involved in my youth group, helped in the nursery and experienced short missions trips. I was in church every time the doors were open.
I had accepted the Lord as a six-year-old. I was fed on Bible stories, and by the faithful preaching of a pastor who diligently preached the fundamentals of God’s Word. I was also fed by the words of numerous hellfire and brimstone-preaching (and screaming) evangelists. I memorized Scripture to earn scholarships to attend summer camp. At 18 I went off to a Christian college. (It sounds good doesn’t it? Isn’t that what we want for all of our kids?)
Church was my life. I had been there from the time I was little. I didn’t know anything different. I thought I knew all about God.
In 2007 we had been on the mission field for eight years. Due to circumstances beyond our control life became a sometimes too exciting roller coaster ride. We found ourselves completely helpless by human standards and totally dependent on God. My whole idea of who God is was being challenged.
It was during this time a colleague challenged me to read the Bible, not for the purpose of finding life application, but instead with the goal of finding, or searching out God. To read God’s Word not with a “me” focus but with a “God” focus. This changed my life. I thought I knew God. Of course I knew Him! I grew up with Him!
Growing up in church… God was familiar and comfortable. I had become complacent.
I offer you this: Complacency is Satan’s trap to keep us from being effective witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Complacent people sit in every pew. Complacent children sit in every Sunday School class.
When I began to read the Bible to look for God I prayed that God would give me a fresh look at Himself. Who is God? Jeremiah 29:11 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” He kept that promise to me.
Finding God, learning who He is in fresh ways happened so quickly. Those Bible stories I knew by heart from a child became new and exciting. God spoke to me through them in ways I never expected. I began to see clearly God at work around me, every day. My eyes are opened.
“By encountering the Divine every day, I begin to see myself more from a Divine perspective. At the same time, I see one person in a human community of billions. Suddenly it is much harder to believe that it’s all about me.
Knowing God and having experienced God’s hand in my life, I can no longer be complacent. Complacency shuts my eyes to the world just outside the walls of my safe places – my home and my church. Complacency lures me into following the rules of my culture. Complacency lures me into un-involvement in the lives of my neighbors who need the hope of salvation.
I do NOT want to be complacent. God answered my prayer to show me Himself in His Word not for me, but for the hopeless world around me. If it stops at me, then what good has it been?
There is a hurting world out there. Crises such as in Japan this past week cause people around us to ask questions. Are we ready to give them the hope that they are searching for???
Our missions conference theme song says, Just outside these walls, the Savior is waiting, for His church to appear. Just outside these walls all hope is not lost. Just outside these walls, we will carry the cross. Just outside these walls, we will go where we’re told, Where the hope of Jesus belongs, Just outside these walls!!
When Jesus comes again, where will He find us? Where will He find you?
Mark 8:27-29 says, “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?””
If Jesus asked you today, “Who do you say that I am?” What would you say? Do you know Jesus? This question haunts me. What would I say? What would you say? What are you and I saying to others about Jesus… by our actions, by our compassion, and with our words? Are we offering the hope of Jesus Christ to the world outside the walls of our safe places?
Would you be challenged with me to ask God to show you who He is, and then as He answers that prayer, to take the Good News of Hope outside of these walls where there is such a desperate need to hear? There is a neighbor who needs to hear. There is a beautician who needs to hear. There is a cashier at the grocery store who needs to hear. Everywhere, people are searching. Let’s get outside the walls!