Beij1ng, and now Nanj1ng, have already given us an overwhelming amount to write about, particularly in the area of processing and praying. Given the nature of our goals, it’s unsurprising that there’ve been many fun as well as challenging times.
We’ve been blessed with a few answers to pra yer since our arrival. Firstly, my bag (with our toiletries inside!) arrived in perfect shape (thank you for your pra yers)! Secondly, we’ve been unexpectedly upgraded to private rooms at two different hostels for a discounted rate as well as given a private place to stay at a friend’s house for a few days. He is so good to us He even cares about those simple everyday things… like where we sleep! These answers to pra yer have come as a confirmation of our call to be here this summer and give us just one more thing to thank Him for. Likewise, Je sus has been using this time to refine me as a man, husband, and believer just as we’ve been pra ying. I’ve found even more that being refined is not an easy process. These first ten or so days have revealed a few particular areas I think He wants to focus on with me: abiding in Him, obeying His word, and giving grace/love.
His blessings of these private rooms have given us special opportunity to be intentional about learning to abide in Him through spending our mornings in His word and listening to His voice without disruption. Though at times it’s been a struggle to make that time, I’ve begun to recognize this practice as being absolutely vital to living the way that He has called me to live. I’m learning that much of the reason I’ve found having a righteous, healthy attitude such a difficult task at times has been because of my lack of abiding. How awesome that His infinite power to overcome our sin nature is right there waiting to sustain us, and how sad that we (I) so often fail to partake in it. And how awesome still that He loves us without wavering even while we continually choose to live out the destructive patterns we choose instead of Him. He has been beckoning me softly yet persistently to find my strength in him through abiding. Please be pra ying that both Bee and I can root ourselves in the Truth by truly establishing this foundational practice in our lives and marriage.
The second thing I’ve been feeling continually challenged by is my lack of obedience to the Word in certain areas, specifically in the areas of sharing, loving, and giving. I’ve frequently felt the tug of the Spirit to share with or encourage someone (sometimes a random person) and either been too cowardly or not convicted-feeling enough to act on it. It’s the same in the areas of loving and giving. When I see someone in need and feel that tug, I often find myself conflicted about how to respond. Lies run through my mind such as “Well, I can’t just go around helping everyone!” and “They probably don’t even want my help” which, regardless of their (in)validity, only serve to dissuade me from following what the Spirit is leading me to do. Honestly, I think I’ve come to understand that I often place a higher value on comfort than I do on obedience! How miserably self-centered! Psalm 51 must have been written with me in mind. Thank the Lord that He is persistent in teaching me to overcome this. I want to follow the Lord with my whole being and in everything.
Giving grace and love has been another subject that seems to be getting brought up a bit relentlessly. Through this book I’ve been reading, “Repenting of Religion” by Gregory A. Boyd, He has really begun to open my eyes about the/a root cause of many problems I’ve got, including the abiding and obedience issues I mentioned above. The Lord assigns to me (and to all people) unsurpassable worth (completely apart from our “good” or “bad” actions) and proved it through sacrificing His son’s life for me even though I still dishonor Him. I have been forgiven so much and assigned such undeserved worth, yet, like the man whose huge debt was taken away, I so often refuse to forgive others. Instead, I judge them for how they measure up to my understanding of good and evil. But I am not the judge! He is calling me (us) to love outrageously and set aside all judgment. We are to lay down our ‘rights’ and treat each other, as well as others, with the same grace that He gives us (which is inexhaustible). When I treat people as less than having unsurpassable worth, I have forgotten what I have been forgiven of.
These lessons haven’t been easy, and are not near completion. On the contrary, refinement takes time, discipline, and pra yer (which i could use a lot of). But we are determined to grow in our likeness to Him. Please use this entry to bring further insight into how you can pra y for Bee and I during our time here. Thanks so much! we appreciate your love and support.