“For by him all things were created: things on heaven and things on earth…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together...for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1:15-20).
I think of things in terms of stories. Too often, the story is a soap-opera starring yours truly, instead of a God-centered story. When something doesn’t go as I planned, I want to whine, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” instead of being thankful for his presence and work in the midst of frustrating circumstances.
I have been reading the book “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. I think anyone interested in missions should read it. This book talks about the story that scripture tells us: God is the main character of the story and he is the creator, sustainer, and reconciler of all things. He created our world good, and even though it is fallen, he sustains it by his grace and he is working in the midst of the fallenness to reconcile it back to himself.
When doing missions, we are joining in the good things God has created, is sustaining, and is already reconciling. This should motivate us to do holistic outreach, and should also keep us humble as we work (we are not the saviors of the world–God is). I was thinking about how this God-centered story should affect my thinking about what I will be doing in South Africa, but this week, God reminded me this way of thinking needs to affect every part of my life, even the mundane parts, and even here in America.
For example: I get to go to a Rangers baseball game with my Dallas family (God creates good things). I get super sick during the game and start puking even before I get to the bathroom (the world is fallen) but I have a plastic bag, so aside from weirding out all fans on the way to the bathroom, I didn’t make a mess at all (God sustains us even in the midst of fallenness )and after a day to recover, I am completely well (God is reconciling all things).
I go to the store to get a paintbrush for an art project (good thing). I run into the side of a huge pick-up in the parking lot (the world is fallen) but no one was hurt (God is sustaining) and the pick-up wasn’t even scratched. The owner of the other car was super friendly, and was almost more apologetic than I was. As he left said, “I am so sorry this happened to you, it will work out, though. God bless!” (God is reconciling all things).
It definitely changes the way I pray when I start thinking about God’s presence sustaining and reconciling in the midst of the chaos of a fallen world with stomach bugs and scratched-up cars. It’s a lot easier to pray prayers of thankfulness!!
I am starting to pray for the short-termers that will be working with iThemba while I am there. The first one arrives only 3 days after David and I do! Please join me in praying that the short-termers will see themselves as part of a bigger story that God is writing, and that we will all be humble enough to listen to him, and see where he wants us to join in with his work.