Mission Devotional - July 26, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you that you are doing a new thing within and among us, if only we can perceive it. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear exactly what this new thing is. Thank you that you are always making a way in the wilderness. Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19

Journal: How do you feel like you are in the wilderness these days? How is God making a way within you through it? What new thing is he doing (or growing) in you?

Reflection: It is so easy at times to get completely consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of, that we are unable to see the God who is making a way for us in the midst of it, much less the new thing he is trying to do both in and through us as a result. I guess that's because we have a tendency to get so consumed with where we are in our own lives and journeys, so caught up in our own smaller stories, if you will, that we cannot see the larger story of God and where he is leading us and what he is doing in our lives and in our world.

Being in the wilderness is a necessary part of the process. The saints called it purgation. It is the part of the journey where we empty ourselves - or God empties us - of whatever we might be full of other than God. It is the part of the journey where we make room within us to receive whatever new thing God might want to do in us. For if we are too full - of guilt, or shame, or fear, or anxiety, or insecurity, or even ambition - then there is no room for God to work. Purgation makes space for illumination (the second part of the ancient dance), which then brings us to the possibility of union, the thing God desires most, both for us and from us.

The problem is that if we end up in the wilderness for a substantial amount of time, we begin to believe that that's all there is. We forget that there is more to the story. We forget that this season is making a way to something, or somewhere, good and beautiful. We forget that purgation is simply one part of a much larger dance. In fact, we can become so consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of that we really can't see anything else.

Therefore, it is essential to remind ourselves of, and engage in, the larger story. When we focus on the larger story, of God and his work in our lives and our world, then it gives us perspective and hope. Therefore, we must not get caught up - or consumed, or stuck - in the smaller story, but continually push ourselves to look beyond it. Because God is always about a larger story, and all of our smaller stories only make sense in light of his story.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Hugo and Jackie are from South Africa and have two children, Marlena and John. Hugo has been the leader of a media ministry and has also been providing oversight to the PALM ministry (Preparing Arab World Leaders for Ministry) for the last few years. Their mission is to engage young people of the Arab world through new media to facilitate church planting movements in partnership with local churches. Pray today for their family as they transition into summer activities.

Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) is an organization that seeks to find and deploy the natural male disciple-makers in our city, asking them to pour into other men via a two-year disciple-making process. Pray today for the men currently in the two-year discipleship groups.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us not to be stuck in the past, whether it be good or whether it be bad, but help us to see the way you are now making in our wilderness. Help us to know and have confidence in the fact that you are doing a new thing, whether we can perceive it yet or not. Amen.