From a Missionary whom I highly respect and pray for –
Lessons From the Pause – Ironically, we are grateful for these days of lockdown here in Baghdad. It is allowing us to get caught up on much-needed work. After many months of travel and constant movement from meeting to meeting, we are enjoying the slower pace of being shut up in the house together as a family with nowhere to go. During the time of “pandemic pause” last year, God began reminding me of some life lessons that He is continually trying to teach me.
Both the hardest and also easiest way to live is to live in the flesh. I am a do-er. I like to make it happen. Recent days and months have demonstrated that there is absolutely no amount of planning, scheming, or force that can change my situation. We were itching to get back to Iraq many months ago (after the birth of the baby), but God had us in a time of pause and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Now that we are back, we are in a time of complete lockdown and, again, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it! We have a choice…we can choose to live in the flesh; to live by force—angry, frustrated, trying to make things happen. Or, we can learn to live by faith, living a Spirit-filled life. I find it much easier to live in the flesh, but what a hard, frustrating way for the child of God to live!
God doesn’t need me in order to accomplish His plan, but He does want me. The salvation of the lost is not in my hands. I am just a blip on the radar of human history. The eternal work of God is to reveal His glory to the ends of the earth. He can do more in a moment than I can do in a lifetime of labor. However, at the same time, the salvation of the lost is in my hands! God uses human instruments to accomplish His work in this world. Imagine, the eternal God has, in some sense, limited Himself to work through human instrumentality! Yes, He has written his majesty in Creation, but it is we who have the great privilege to be His messengers, “to declare His glory among the heathen” (Psalm 96:3). We must open our mouths and we must speak! We must connect our lives to His eternal work. The great prayer of Jesus is still for laborers (Matthew 9:38).
Busy-ness is not necessarily spirituality. I grew up in New Jersey. My childhood and teen years are days on which I look back with great fondness. Interestingly enough, God was preparing me even then to be a laborer in this part of the world. But, something that is a part of life in the Northeast is that there was a great amount of busyness to life. In a sense, this is also the American way—be busy. It seems our schedules are always filled. We rarely lack anything to do. One of the life lessons God is continually reminding me of is the lesson that busyness can become a substitute for spirituality (2 Timothy 3:5). I certainly have the “form,” but do I have the “power?”
We move forward by waiting. All throughout the Scripture, God admonishes us to “wait.” God told Moses to “stand still” before He told Him to “go forward.” Waiting is not one of my virtues! Again, my childhood had something to do with this. God’s timing is not always mine. I want what I want now! I don’t like to wait, but all of us must come to the place where we learn to wait—to wait on Him. We are not waiting on some things to line up, we are waiting on Someone (Psalm 27:14). Although counter-intuitive to human reasoning, it is the way of a spirit-filled life.
God is always working behind the scenes. A guest lecturer in Bible college often repeated the phrase, “God is always previous.” Before creation was, God was. He is always before and going before. I may feel like I am in a time of pause, but I am reminded that He is working. Although I may find myself in a pause, God is not. He is working, readying the hearts of those around me to receive His message. He is at work. I must trust that when I cannot understand, He is still moving and working (Job 23:8-10)