Staying true to our calling

I love staying connected with other Christians around the world through the newsletters that come in the mail from various organizations.  The December 2014 issue of PGM News (of the Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago, Illinois, USA) provided much inspiration and perspective that I needed before heading into 2015.  Here is a story quoted by PGM President, Philip Kwiatkowski in his column entitled, Staying True to Our Calling.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a little life-saving station.  The building was primitive and there was just one boat, but the members of the life-saving station were committed and kept a constant watch over the sea.

lighthouse in storm

When a ship went down, they unselfishly went out day or night to save the lost.  Because so many lives were saved by that station, it became famous.  Consequently, many people wanted to be associated with the station to give their time, talent, and money to support its important work.  New boats were bought, new crews were recruited, a formal training session was offered.

As the membership in the life-saving station grew, some of the members became unhappy that the building was so primitive and that the equipment was so outdated.  They wanted a better place to welcome the survivors pulled from the sea.  So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged and newly decorated building.

Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members.  They met regularly, and when they did, it was apparent how they loved one another.  They greeted each other, hugged each other, and shared with one another the events that had been going on in their lives.  But fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this for them.

About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought into the life-saving station boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, sick, and half-drowned people.  Some of them had black skin, and some had yellow skin.  Some could speak English well, and some could hardly speak it at all.  Some were first-class cabin passengers of the ship and some were the deck hands.  The beautiful meeting place became a place of chaos.  The plush carpets got dirty.  Some of the exquisite furniture got scratched.  So the property committee immediately had a shower built outside the house where the victim of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there was a rift in the membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities, for they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal fellowship of the members.  Other members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all those various kinds of people who would be shipwrecked, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast.  And do you know what?  That is what they did.

As the years passed, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a place to meet regularly for fellowship, for committee meetings, and for special training sessions about their mission but few went out to the drowning people.  The drowning people were no longer welcomed in that new life-saving station.  So another life-saving station was funded further down the coast.

History continued to repeat itself.  And if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of adequate meeting places with ample parking and plush carpeting.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

Wedel, T. (October, 1953).  Ecumenical Review.  Paraphrased in Heaven Bound Living.  Stanton, K. (1989), pp. 99-101

Gentle Reader, I ask you the same question that I have asked myself after reading this story:  what is your calling today?  JJ

(For more on this subject, check out this brief article by Pastor John Piper.)

 

It’s only a matter of time

hellLet’s see.  If I had a timer going for a few events these past few days, this is how I would measure up:

  • Friday:  Made dinner.  1 1/2 hours.
  • Saturday:  Unloaded compost with hubby and tinkered with a few garden tasks.  Made dinner.  3 hours.
  • Sunday:  Sat outside.  Posted some new jewelry on Etsy and surfed the net.  All day.

The rest of the time was characterized by self care, supreme sickness and recovery.  Who knew that seizure attack episodes on Friday and Saturday could take on a violent, writhing character for 10 minutes straight of unbelievable hell?  I am so very glad that the other episode of 2 hours of non-stop seizing plus aftermath would not take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night, early Saturday morning.  Alas, my beloved got a few hours of sleep.  But today it’s just sad that I missed my husband’s shooting class.  All of this is a really big bite in the shorts, I tell ya.

As it turns out the most difficult issue for me to face during these last almost 3 years of illness is a “waste of time.”  I value the meaningful use of my time more than money, people, places, and things.  It’s just how I am wired and I don’t want to spend a 60-minute counseling session trying to figure out WHY!  This aspect of illness really cuts to the core of my being.  I will, however, submit my will to the wisdom of my Heavenly Father.  Perhaps it is a supreme opportunity to soften this issue of time measuring value for me.  Value is not measured by time in the eyes of the Lord.  Value is measured by simply being.  (Now that’s another topic for another time!)  Maybe today I should explore the topic of time in a walk through His Word?

God created time.  Genesis 1:14  14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,

Time will end, thereby increasing its value.  Revelation 10:6  King James Version (KJV) And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

There is a time for everything, good and bad.  Ecclesiastes 3:1  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Time is measured by God.  All things happen in His appointed time.  We are to wait patiently for His divine timing of both the events of our lives and the events prophesized in the Bible.  Daniel 12And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

We have no idea when things will really happen or not happen.  Better to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord our God.  The most important event is His return in glory.  Mark 1332 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

God ordains certain tasks in the lives of believers at certain times until our days are over.  When in doubt we are to fast and pray that the Holy Spirit may counsel us, lead us, comfort us through our days.  Esther Chapter 4.  14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Our time is to be spent gaining wisdom among other tasks He ordains for us to do.  Psalm 90:12  12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom

We are to spend our time in meditation on the things that matter most.  This requires  inactivity!  Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Time spent with the Lord is infinitely multiplied as He is timeless.  2 Peter 3:8  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

God orders the steps, the events of our lives for His divine purposes.  They are not random.  They are not without meaning or purpose.  Proverbs 16  In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 

His plans include blessing, a future and a hope.  In this promise we can find rest.  Jeremiah 29.  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And yet we are to live fully in the moment and consider the future according to His will.  James 4  13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Not only are the events and timing of our lives planned as part of His will.  They are ordained for His glory!  Ephesians 1.  11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

 O.k.  I think I’m getting a better perspective on things!  Not only does my Lord and Savior care for all of the details of my life (Psalm 139), He carefully constructs the timing of everything as well.  When I am up late at night writing this blog I remind myself that it is an honor when someone reads what I have written.  You, Gentle Reader, have chosen to spend some of your valuable time with me.  And if I have succeeded at any level to bring each of us closer to the throne of grace, the love of Jesus Christ, well that is time well spent indeed for both of us.  To Him be the glory.  May He mark our time for His purposes.  After all, it’s only a matter of time.  There is so very much more . . .  JJ

heaven