Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Over

A simple statement. And yet holds much impact. Whether it’s a serious situation, an exciting time period, or a turn of events, the words “It’s over” means there is nothing more to come.

I wonder if that was how the Disciples felt after Jesus died. He was gone. The Disciples were in hiding. Peter had denied Christ three times and his wounded spirit was probably inconsolable.

The Disciples had spent nearly three years with Jesus. Side by side with the Messiah, hearing and learning all that He taught. Just what were they to do with the information they had? What were they to do with the knowledge? I’m sure they were confused. Not knowing what their future held.

Suddenly, Jesus was back. But only on occasion. So this group still didn’t know exactly what to do.

Some went back to what they knew. Back to their life before Jesus. John 21 tells of such a circumstance. The fishermen of the group were fishing when Jesus presented Himself to them. They had breakfast and Jesus gave Peter instructions. “Feed my sheep” and “Follow me.” But these instructions were vague. Peter’s questions probably continued, uncertain to how he was to follow the instructions.

Then Jesus gave the Disciples further instruction in Acts 1. “On one occasion, while he (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave this this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4 – NIV)

Now the Disciples had to wait. In Jerusalem. For a gift. And that they did. Perhaps they were still a little foggy on what their future role in the Kingdom would be, but they knew by following Jesus’ commands, they were being obedient to their Master.

And wait they did. But they were busy. They replaced Judas with Matthias (Acts 1:12-26). We also see in Luke 24:53 (NIV), “And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

The Disciples knew God wasn’t finished with them yet, they just didn’t know how He was going to use them.

I kind of know how the Disciples felt. I’ve spoken the words, “It’s over.” My service trip to SE Asia is over. But now what?

What am I to do now? What does God want me to do with all the information I’ve learned and the knowledge I’ve gained? The same questions that the Disciples had.

My SE Asia team and I are all back to old routines. Back to our way of life before the trip. Meetings, family life, group gatherings, writing. Nothing seems to have changed, and yet I am changed. Perhaps some of the same feeling the Disciples felt.

So really, now what?

I believe I can do exactly what the Disciples did.

I can wait.
This is probably the hardest part of this plan. But if I look at it with anticipation, the wait will be more exciting. There will be unexpected revelations along the way and I will be able to see God through it all. And isn’t that worth the wait?

I can stay connected at church.
The Disciples “stayed continually” at their church. I don’t think that is feasible, but I do believe any time spent in God’s house and with His people is time well spent. These connections allow me to share my journey and keep my experiences fresh in my mind. And of course, listening to Scripture, worshipping God and hearing God’s message proclaimed will allow me to stay in tune with God’s leading.

I can praise God.
This is an easy one. Remember the old tune, “Blessed Assurance?”[i] The chorus states, “This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.” How privileged I am to be able to praise God all day long!

I know for certain that God will show up at just the right moment and say, “Now…this is what I want you to do.” I cannot wait for that moment!

If you are going through a similar situation, take a look at the steps listed above. Implement them into your life. Know that God is with you through it all and He does have a plan. You need to be obedient and patient. He will come through.

Of course, we know how God used Peter and the other Disciples. After the Holy Spirit fell upon them, great messages were spoken. The Church was established. Gentiles were invited into the Kingdom. And their efforts were substantially magnified because God was in the middle of it.

I don’t know if God will use my service trip to this degree, but I do believe He isn’t finished yet. There is much to process. There is much to share. There is much for God to be part of. And when God is in the middle of it, there is no telling what the outcome will be.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


[i] Blessed Assurance, Frances J. Crosby, 1873

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

And Waiting Again...

I have anticipated this day for over two weeks now. The other half of our service team to SE Asia returns home today.

I’ve missed them so much. They were inspirational. They were prayer warriors. They were cheerful. They were wonderful mentors. They led wisely. They are good friends.

Being back in America without them has been okay, but the idea of them returning, to reunite the team is more than exciting to me. It is exhilarating!

I wonder if this was how the Apostles felt after Jesus left them. Acts 1:4-5 (NIV) shares the account of Jesus’ instructions. “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”

They were to wait. Wait for the rest of the team to arrive.

It isn’t fun to wait. I’ve had to wait quite a bit in my lifetime. Wait for pregnancies to come to term. Wait for news of an upcoming, possible job. Wait for the arrival of wonderful guests. Wait for surgery to be finished on a loved one.

Waiting. It isn’t an easy task.

The Apostles kept busy while they were waiting however. After Jesus left them, they returned to Jerusalem to wait as Jesus had requested. We see in the first chapter of Acts that they chose a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:12-26).

In Luke’s account of the time after Jesus’ ascension, we come to an understanding of other things the Apostles did while waiting.

“When he (Jesus) had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:50-53 – NIV)

The Apostles were continuously in the temple. They continuously praised God. Now that was something to do while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. They were preparing themselves for what was to come.

Under these circumstances, I suspect the wait wasn’t as difficult as we might think.

So what should we do while we’re waiting?

Be productive. Don’t sit around with only the wait on your mind. Find something to do that will be of good. It will help take your mind off the wait period.

I believe we can also spend time with fellow believers. Just as the Apostles were always at the temple, we can find ways to be near others who believe as we do. This too will help us from becoming so focused on the wait that we miss the anticipation. The joy of something to look forward to.

And then the last thing we can learn from the Apostles is to praise God while we’re waiting. Of course we should praise God all the time, but in times of waiting, I believe praising God will again take our focus off of ourselves and place it directly on God. And let’s face it, there’s always something to praise God for.

I wish God had brought these concepts to my mind two weeks ago. I might have viewed this wait period much differently. Yes, I’ve done these three things, but I might have done a few things differently.

The good news is that now that I’ve learned a lesson, I can use it the next time I am required to wait. And that starts now.

I’m waiting for my fourth grandchild to be born. A little girl. Oh, how difficult it is to wait, but I know the importance of waiting for this baby to develop fully before birth.

So until that time, I will be productive. I will continually be in God’s house with His people. And I will not stop praising God. And so it begins.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Return

I have written a lot about going away on my other blog, Full Measure of Joy. About being away from home and returning home. I have traveled quite a bit this year. This is yet another post about returning home.

I am returning home to the ones who love me most in this world. I am returning home to the conveniences that I’ve held close. I am returning home with determination to never take anything for granted again. I am returning home to share a story or two about the people of SE Asia. I am returning home to be used by God.

Honestly, I don’t know how God is going to work through me after this journey. I thought it would be clear. I thought He would have given direction. But as of today, I don’t know what His plan is.

I can say that I learned quite a bit, however. I now know that I am courageous, flexible, peaceable, open and willing to learn, have a good attitude, and a welcoming smile. I now know that my gift of communication is truly a gift from God that I am willing to use. I now know that I love traveling overseas.

But there is still so much more to learn. I now know that I will be open and willing to learn how God is going to use my experiences from this journey to teach me and lead me.

My journey is not over. It has just begun.

As I am given insight, I will share. Until then, I will continue to use my writing to study God’s Word to see what God is teaching me. I will use my writing to encourage others. I will use my writing to share the Gospel with anyone who is willing to listen. And above all, I will use my writing to glorify God.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. And know this, we are not alone. God is always with us.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 – NIV)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,