earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Change and Jesus

We are in the middle of a whole mess of change. There’s simply no way around it; one cannot move from Michigan to Tanzania without an extreme disruption to our way of life. Most of the things we’ve used daily for the past 6 years are now either in a box or no longer in our possession. We are almost 2 weeks into a 6-week road trip that ends with our flight out of the country. Needless to say, the process tests our emotional and physical endurance. We should be quick to say that there are many pleasant situations in the midst of our traveling–thanks to you. Our accomodations have been comfortable and we have benefited from exceptional generosity in the form of meals, loaned vehicles, and occasional fun diversions.

The reality that distances this stage of pre-field ministry from a nice (but rather odd) vacation is that our daily routines have been pitched never to be recovered. I’m not exactly sure where my favorite mug is; my running shoes have been inadvertently packed into a box somewhere; and all the daily activities I usually take for granted are just not there. The greatest difficulty in this disruption is in leaving behind what is familiar to us.

I’ve been admonished to remember that change can be good for us. Shaking up the status quo shows how dependent we can be on our regular routines. We all create space in our lives for predictable and familiar things–your home, something to eat, or some physical activity, and so on. But when everything is in transition, the house is bare, the meals are not home-cooked, and the whole day is full of new challenges. Where do you turn for relief?

The midst of change is the best place to learn contentment. Consider Paul’s testimony:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11-13)

We could mishandle the situations in which we “are brought low” or “abound” by disregarding the one who enables us to “do all things.” There is a secret to be learned in that God is using “any and every circumstance” to strengthen us. But true to my form, I have not always recognized God’s good gifts to us as they really are–gifts from above (Jas 1:17). Likewise, I have not always turned to God first in the midst of our loss. Correctly handling these circumstances ends in contentment because we are satisfied not in the predictable and familiar but in Jesus who enables us to endure all things. First, be content with Jesus. Then, knowing that there is no variance in his kindness (Heb 13:8), we may also know the stability to handle the change in our life.

July 28, 2012   3 Comments