I just read this morning about Paul’s thorn in the flesh from II Corinthians 12. Would love to know what that “thorn” was, but nevertheless realize that information is actually quite immaterial. That’s why he boasts in “weaknesses, insults, persecutions, difficulties.” A number of things could fall into those categories.
One of my thorns is my house in FL. Can’t sell it. Can’t refinance it because I’m too far under-water on it. And every so often, I get news that something is broken that is NOT under the home warranty. I’ve pleaded with God to take it away from me, but its just not happening now.
At the beginning of missions week, I got notification that the garage door which I had already spent a few hundred dollars to get fixed in January is broken again. Not under warranty, again.
On the way to the missions prayer meeting, it was WHAT I was thinking about. As I walked into the church it was WHAT I was thinking about. But I asked God to change my heart, because I wasn’t able to change it, and as usual, He did. To Him be the glory!
Here are some things I learned from last night’s missions prayer meeting. Ultimately, what I learned was how God’s Kingdom advancement can be so incredibly helpful, practical, and personally devotional.
1.) A Concern for missions (God being glorified by people who do not yet know Him in places where they haven’t heard or responded) keeps you from focusing on your own problems. God receiving the glory due His name where He’s not-as opposed to limiting the focus to the needs of others-is the fuel for missions. But a very helpful side affect is that we end up losing ourselves-and our problems-in that passion. The most self-satisfying thing you can do is to take your focus off yourself and onto God. The idea of “I need to first take care of myself,” then I can take care of others might be from Oprah but not Jesus. I still have to find someone to fix my garage door in FL. Again. Yet God’s developing a greater passion for missions in us increases our joy in His Kingdom coming down even when my garage door won’t go up. There is joy to be claimed and experienced if we look not inside, but outside of ourselves, at God’s active work in the world-of which he allows us to play a part-today.
2.) Need for community. I can’t develop a passion for missions or a passion for God by myself. I really do need others. When I prayed that God would change my heart, He decided to use His people to play an integral part. A woman at the group was a Voice of the Martyrs representative in our area. She let us know that the Northern part of Nigeria is now one of the persecution “hotspots.” She let us know that it appears nearly 5,000 Christians lost their lives over Easter. Wow. I needed to know that. And I needed someone else to tell me that WHEN she told me that. Never forsake your own need for community; and let that need drive you to community even if you don’t feel like it or have other things to do.
If you’re connected to Redeemer, come on out to the rest of the Missions Week as we have a dinner Wed and Friday night at 6 pm. Bring dessert or salad on Wed and dessert or chips on Friday.