Years ago I was living in Madagascar and feeling the loneliness of being 11,000 miles from home in a place where I didn't really speak the language and was learning how to live bi-culturally. This time was a time that pre-dated cell phones, and email, and the internet. One day I received a letter from a friend from South Africa who was serving as a missionary in another country and in it she said,
"Tonight more than ever I longed to have my own car my own friends and a place to go to. I have so
much energy inside me right now I am capable of exploding...It's Sunday evening, the time is 10:30
p.m. and it is as light as it would be 3:00 p.m....This makes it impossible for me to sleep. I would
love to go out somewhere but I have no friends and no transport so - can you imagine how I am feeling?
Just give me a moment to pull myself together..."
As I read her words I understood her frustration. It is hard to not understand, to feel isolated, and sometimes we don't even have to go far away from home to feel that way. I shared her words and my concurrent frustrations via letter with a friend back in the states and a few weeks later I got a response from her that read:
I pray that you're not discouraged. Hold fast to Jesus Christ and His call for you. You have obeyed
with a willingness to go. You have taken the first step that many never take. Savor all that He has
in store, however small or simple it may seem at the time. After all, you're certainly not missing much
here at home -- it's still the Kingdom of God here, too. Many of the same struggles and victories. I
don't want to sound preachy; I want to offer you encouragement. Isn't it wonderful to know that our
God can be at your house and my house at the same time??! He is that big and He has the
sovereign plan. I miss you, but I know that I will get to see you soon. For right now you have a job to do.
Go for it!
She nailed! God is the God of ALL PEOPLE and ALL NATIONS and is in ALL PLACES. As I prepare for next Sunday's message from Acts 2:1-13 the followers of Christ are in a position where they will soon be done waiting and going out into the world. The will go to strange lands and strange places and speak languages they can't imagine, and before they leave something incredible happens to remind them that God is in control.
People from around the world are gathered in Jerusalem and just as Jesus promised the Holy Spirit comes on them and they begin to speak and people begin to hear in every language imaginable. God says, "Watch this. I am the God of all people and all tongues."
That reminder echoes for us today. No matter our circumstance of location, God is here or there! God calls to us. God reminds us.
Still the Kingdom
Night time brings the moments
when I long to run away
back to arms to hold me like a child,
far from all these struggles
and endless probing eyes,
back where lullabies sound soft and mild.
How I miss those moments,
feelings that I belonged,
times spent with family and friends.
If I could have one hour
of simple peace with them
I think that I could find my heart again.
But I hear stronger whispers
the urgent, marching call
to follow Him who has the sovereign plan,
and to leave far behind
the comfort I once knew
and rest all of my life within his hand,
So in each silent struggle
and through nights of loneliness
wanting quiet whispers for my ears
I will hold to truth,
the promise he has made
No matter where I am, He is here.
June 14, 1994
David A. Baillie
This week is race week in Indiana, and Sunday is race day. If there is one thing I have learned through my years living here is that people take race day seriously. This weekend will see the tiny area of Speedway, Indiana become one of the largest cities in the United States. To put things into perspective, the state of Wyoming has just over half a million residents, and that 2.5 mile oval on the west side of town can hold 300,000, just a little less than the whole state of Wyoming.
People will come from all over to watch race car drivers cram themselves into tiny cockpits in four wheeled rockets that can hit 240 mph on the front and back straightaways of the famed track. I was watching some of the qualifying highlights this weekend, and as I watched the drivers get in and out of their cars I could just feel claustrophobia coming over me.
Then today I was reading through the scripture for the upcoming weekend, and I saw the words, "Peter, James, John and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one ACCORD in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his Brothers."
And the only thing I could think was, "That must have been one really big Honda to have all those people in it!"
Of course I know that the writer of Acts was not writing about a Honda. But let me ask you something, can you even imagine that many people being in one accord on anything? Notice that the writer tells us that those who were gathered there were both male and female. Look at the names, Jew and Greek, and Gentile. It was a mixture of so many and there was agreement.
Here in our nation we are so divided. This past week we were remind how abortion laws in places like New York and Illinois and Alabama can polarize us so greatly. Partisan bickering and posturing often paralyzes our federal government. We can't seem to find common ground, and yet these people did. But, notice something very important, they were a people who "continued in prayer and supplication" The key to their agreement was found in their humility and their submission to a higher power and their seeking that power for guidance and direction.
We as a people will never be a people of one accord, until we release all that we hold on to and seek the one who holds on to all.
Acts 1:12-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
I'll be honest right off the top, I hate waiting. I am not a person of great patience in many situations. When my wife says to me, "Please come to Hobby Lobby (or Joann, or Michael's, or really any store) to me you do not need to know my words, just the look on my face betrays what I am truly thinking. I know that saying yes means a few hours of standing there, pretending to be interested in all the craft things and saying good things like, "Yes, I think that one is much frillier". Sometimes I'll say yes and go, other times I'll just say no, and often she'll just look at my face and say, "Never mind, I'll just go by myself.
It's even worse when it comes to driving for me. I cannot stand to wait, but I'm not the only one. Is there a traffic jam up ahead on the interstate? I'd rather get off and drive back roads and add an hour to my trip than creep along for 20 minutes until we are back up to speed. I'd rather be moving than sitting on the road.
In Acts Chapter 1 verse 4 we read "He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to WAIT for the Promise of the Father..."
Jesus has been resurrected. He has appeared to the disciples. He has called them away from fishing one last time. Now they are together and they are ready to do whatever Jesus tells them to do, and the first thing that he says to them is WAIT!. Peter had to have been going, "Are you kidding me?" You expect us to just sit here and wait.
The truth is, however, that sometimes God just wants us to wait. He wants to give us what we need for the journey. he wants to prepare us. He wants to empower us. I've been waiting for a long time for God to show me some direction in life and ministry, and I realized a little while ago that what he is saying to me is, "Wait. I have you right where I want you right now, and I know the plans that will unfold in the future."
May God always grant us the patience t be where He wants us to be and trust His plan.
Acts 1:4-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be [a]witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to officiate a local club volleyball tournament. I do a lot of officiating and the days can be long and arduous. Volleyball comes in waves and a typical Saturday in a large tournament will consist of two six hour waves, with matches starting at 8 am and going deep into the evenings. Over the course of the day you will stand for hours, blow your whistle a couple thousand times, watch coaches complain about things when they don't even know the rules, and listen to obnoxious holler rude things and ruin the experience for their own children. The days can be fun, but they also can wear on you, especially by your fifth month of multiple weekends since January.
In the officials room before the matches this past weekend I sat with some fellow referees and I just listened to their conversations. Must of the time they spent complaining about working and ever other other word out of their mouth was profane in nature, and I was thinking, man, you guys sure are miserable. For me, yes the days are long, the back and feet ache, BUT I get to do something I really love. I get to interact with talented and intriguing young people who make me feel good about our future, and I get to be involved in the consummate team sport.
A year and a half ago I had neck surgery and a small stroke. Now I am able to stand for 12 hours on a Saturday and officiate the game I love. God has been merciful to me, and his mercies are new every day. This journey is too short and too filled with blessings to be brought down by people and events we have no control over. Let us live each day knowing that God is in control, and that his mercies continue to be new every day.
Lamentations 3:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV)22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.