Mission Devotional - October 18, 2016
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for not having a place for struggle in my life and the lives of those around me. Forgive me for my tendency to jump right in and try to rescue people, instead of seeking your will and your direction for the situation. I know that by doing that there are times when I get in the way of what you are actually trying to accomplish. Forgive me for my need to be needed. Help me to turn first to you this day, that I might only do what you tell me to do. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33
Journal: Where do you find yourself in this story? How does it intersect with your life right now? What is God saying to you through it?
Reflection: "Timing is everything," or so the old saying goes anyway. That particularly seems true in this instance. Jesus dismisses the crowds and immediately goes up on the mountainside by himself to pray. We can't be sure exactly what time this took place, all we know is that it was before the evening came. For when evening came he was already there alone, and the disciples were already on the sea being battered by the waves. Yet it wasn't until the fourth watch of the night that he went out to them - still struggling and fighting to stay afloat - walking on the sea. Interesting timing to say the least.
The disciples had probably been struggling for somewhere around twelve hours, and where was Jesus? He was praying. I don't know, maybe Jesus was so enthralled in prayer that he didn't even notice that the disciples were on the verge of being swept away. I doubt that was the case. Or maybe he understood the value of struggle in the process of life and growth and was just waiting for the appropriate time to rescue them. That seems much more possible. Or maybe Jesus didn't do anything until he heard the Father tell him to. I have a sneaking suspicion that that might have been the case. After all, how many times in the Scriptures did Jesus say something like, "I only do what the Father tells me to do?" That's what makes Jesus so different from me, he didn't have the need to be needed; he simply did what the Father said. That's why he was able to pray and be still before God even as the disciples struggled. He trusted the Father.
Maybe that's why we have such a hard time allowing people to struggle. We want to charge in and rescue them. Maybe it is because we care so deeply for them. Or maybe it is because we so desperately need to be need ourselves. Henri Nouwen once said, "In order to be of service to others, we have to die to them." In order to really be of help to people, we cannot act out of our own needs and fears, but only out of love. We just need to trust God to be the one who comes to their rescue, in his own time, and in his own way. And if he invites us to be a part of that, so be it. Because if we try to do it ourselves there is a great likelihood that we might actually hinder, rather than help, what he is doing in their lives.
So let us start where Jesus started, by kneeling before the Father in prayer and seeking his will and his direction for whatever situation might confront us, or our families, or our friends. For he alone is truly able to rescue any of us.
Prayer for the church, for others, for myself
Mark and Annemarie Dye are passionate about building Christian leaders to mobilize and equip the African Church for mission in the world. Pray today for the Dyes as they are currently traveling in the U.S. for meetings and to visit family.
Volunteers provide weekly English classes at CSPC for those who need to improve their language skills. Classes meet on Thursdays in the morning and in the evening. There is an optional Bible study held after the morning classes. The ESL students and teachers hold holiday parties, go on outings and picnics, and do other fun things together. Pray today for this semester's students that the leaders can build solid relationships with them.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, may my feet be set in motion this day only in response to prayer, rather than in response to my own need to be needed. Amen.