Tag Archives: purpose

I Will

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

He always wanted to be a missionary, but J. Oswald Smith was susceptible to sickness and disease. One mission assignment after another ended with his return to the States to recover from some new malady. So in the 1950’s, Smith gave up on being a missionary and began serving at a church in Toronto.

He gave up on being a missionary, but not on being mission minded.

He spoke to his members about the great work that needed doing, and they raised $282,000 for missions in one year alone.

He began helping other churches raise funds for missionaries. He helped one church in Boston go from a $3200 missions budget to a budget exceeding $200,000 in only six years.

How many more people heard the Good News of Jesus because of Oswald Smith than would have ever heard it by listening to him alone?

Last month I thought I should offer to host the community Bible study that I attend. I prayed about it, but felt a definite “no” being given.

Why in the world should I not host the study? We have a large house with no children left in it. It is a central location to many in the group. And it’s a Bible study, for goodness sake!

But I put aside my arguments and listened to God.

Another woman, growing in the faith, offered to host. It was a big step for her who so recently had spoken of the tongue lashing her father gave her for teaching Bible class at church.

What do you feel called to do? Is it what God is asking you to do, or is it just what you want to do?

Ask God what he wants.

His answer may not make sense at the time, but you can be sure it is the right answer.

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

Symbolic Twelve

“Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” ~Aslan to Lucy, Prince Caspian

sonI’m partial to the number thirteen. I know, a lot of people consider it a bad luck number, but it always intrigued me. My grandmother had thirteen children, so perhaps the intrigue was bred into me. Whatever the reason, thirteen is my number.

God has a lot of numbers he seems to prefer. Seven is a “perfect” number, a sign of completeness. Creation occurs in six days and then on the seventh God rests in the finished work. Forty also seems to tickle God’s fancy. It rains on Noah for forty days and forty nights, the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years led by Moses who had a thing for forty as well, and then there’s Christ, fasting forty days in his own wilderness wandering.

Another number that draws the Trinity’s attention is twelve. The twelve sons of Jacob establish the twelve tribes of Israel. Revelation describes the twelve gates of Heaven. Jesus’s disciples pick up twelve baskets of leftovers after a miracle. And in Luke 8 we see some more significant twelves: a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years and a twelve year old girl who is sick and dying.

Those two stories mix and weave together in Luke’s account like the knit and purl of a sweater, one rising up, the other falling down, twisting inside each other and coming back out again.

The woman was frustrated, isolated, and ostracized. She was considered unclean, unwelcome, untouchable. She spent all she had begging doctors to find a cure, but twelve years passed without any help. Surely she must have felt time was strung out in one endless rope that she wished would hang her. Twelve years was an eternity.

The other story, the sick girl, is also one of hurt and anger. The girl’s father is a leader in the community. He has worked hard for the Lord, faithfully followed the law, and now his payment is a very sick daughter. His impatience to move along, to get the healer to his daughter before it is too late, pulses on the page. But before they can reach her, the girl dies. Twelve years is such a short time, not long enough.

I find myself drifting through this story, sometimes sinking sometimes swimming, as I realize I have lived here twelve years now. I consider the two poles of the story and wonder. Has twelve years been an eternity or not long enough?

How have I used these twelve years? Have I spent them searching for answers or enjoying the blessings of God?

The answer is “yes”. I have searched for answers while helping lead a congregation that has, at times, been hurt and bleeding. Those times have seemed like an eternity of pain and frustration, draining me and my spirit. I have also watched growth that has sparked excitement and enjoyment, wishing time would stand still and stay a little longer.

Both the bleeding woman and the dying girl had twelve years to find God’s purpose. How we view that purpose changes how we view time. The paradox is that twelve years is both an eternity and not even close to long enough.

Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” . . . Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Luke 8:48, 50 NIV