Mission Devotional - October 18, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Led

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, popularity, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to those voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life. I know this will be a very hard road for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are no times and places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you. Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and courage to live my life faithfully, so that I will be able to taste with joy the new life which you have prepared for me. Amen. (The Road to Daybreak by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

Scripture: John 21:18

Journal: How and where is God leading you these days? What is he calling/inviting you to?

Reflection: For each of us the way lies straight ahead. There is, immediately in front of us, an assigned task, a call: some difficult, clear, utterly simple thing the Lord is asking us to do. It is not a general admonition to whoever might happen to be standing about. It is instead an utterly private request whispered, as it were, into each one’s ear. What the Lord is asking me, He is asking no one else. More than likely, it is a request with no particular glamour or notoriety attached to it. And if I pay attention, the Lord leaves me in no doubt about it. Especially if I ask in prayer, He tells me very clearly. (Which is why, sometimes, I don’t hurry to find out.)

And I cannot accomplish this thing God asks without grace. The call, this request is completely beyond my grasp, quite impossible—without His help. Yet even as He asks it, He makes it clear that His grace will be poured out. He will not leave me abandoned or alone. He does not ask the impossible. Our God does not play tricks. Or, to put it another way, when He asks the impossible, we remember that nothing is impossible with God.

But why are we surprised by this? We knew from the beginning that prayer would bring us closer to the mind of God, more able to know His thoughts and do His will. We knew that, yet when by a kind of radar we sense it, when we feel ourselves being moved and led in a given direction, we feel awe, we are afraid. Afraid perhaps that we are acting, actors in a drama we did not design. Somehow the story has been set in motion and the characters are mainly two: God and me. It is a dance! It is a suspense story. It is leading to an unknown destination. It is once-upon-a-time, and now, and what-is-yet-to-be, all at once. It is now and forever, and yet it is not a dream. It is happening and it is real.

And now there is no turning back. The commitment has already been made: The escalator is ascending, the elevator door is closing, the plane is moving down the runway. Something very definite has been set in motion, is gathering momentum, is picking up speed. It seems we can hardly stop now, especially when the journey is starting to get interesting! Even so, we are fearful. Now that the cabin door is closed and the motors are revving, the shudder and the trembling are perhaps not so exhilarating as we had thought.

Yet, we have signed on for this. We are here by our own consent. Even if there should be pain interwoven with this commitment, some intimation of suffering to come, there is, at the very same time, a knowing - we know Who it is that’s asking and this intimate sense of a God who loves us is present even when He is leading us into the furnace or the deep. Our God will not betray us. He is just and fair and tender. He does not forget us in the time of trouble, He that keeps Israel does not slumber or sleep.

So, we go on, straight ahead, with no more sense of direction than just to make the next step and the next. We are not out to make high jumps, to take the next three steps at a time. There is no longer much question of spiritual ambition or advancing in prayer. We have no sense of height. We can’t tell whether or not we are ascending. If we are climbing (and we are), we sense that only in our muscles and bones. The climb is costly. But it does not feel upward. It is not high. It is neither consolation nor desolation.

It is ascent, but not ecstasy. In a sense, it is deeper than ecstasy, or perhaps one could call it the ecstasy of every day, a union that continues while everything else is also happening, existing within whatever activities are necessary, an abandonment known only to us and God, ecstatic only in that it is so very complete.

This abandonment is the very heart and essence of Christian prayer, and it has nothing in common with strategy and second-guessing. It is the pray-to-win mentality turned inside out, and yet it is not a pray-to-lose mentality. It is the prayer that has moved beyond intending, directing, steering, second-guessing God. It is the dancer moving completely in the rhythm of the partner, prayer that is utterly freeing because it is completely at one. Utterly beyond asking, beyond the anger that rattles heaven’s gate. Prayer that does not plead, wants nothing for itself but what God wants, it is the will-not-to-will, rooted in grace, that makes it possible to be abandoned, free, and then (by some further miracle) able to act with a semblance of coherence and freedom even when completely surrendered to and possessed by the loving will of God. (Clinging by Emilie Griffin)

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Global Partner Focus: Africa

Tim and Barbie K. are working to translate the Bible into the Makori language, currently working in Acts and Galatians. Barbie is also guest house manager and Regional Director, having responsibility for more than 20 missionaries in the area. Their main goal is to see a Makori church effectively using its own Bible translation. Pray today for Tim and Barbie who are back in Africa after a home assignment.

FOCUS (Following Our Choices Unto Success) works in the Knox County Jail and Detention Facility, Taft Youth Center, and the four men's prisons of East Tennessee. The FOCUS work "Behind the Walls" includes evangelistic events, weekly support groups, discipleship classes, life-skills classes and one-on-one counseling. Pray today for each person in these facilities that they may be open to the gospel when it is presented by FOCUS.

Closing Prayer: God of Fire and Grace, you offer love that knows no bounds, forgiveness that pardons the lost. Pour your presence into me, fill me with passion, then consume me with your Spirit’s hungry flame. Take me wherever you want, change me as you wish, mold me into the shape of your dreams. Break through the comforting illusions of my life and bring me something terribly wigglingly, writhingly real. Amen. (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)