Monday, July 28, 2014

Changes in the Dark

I'm like most people.  Every now and then I like to change around the furniture, try a new decorating idea, or try a new recipe.  But, when it comes to big things, like houses and jobs, change can be frightening.  It can be especially daunting when we know change is around the corner, but we can't see the details, like the where and the when of it all.  That is kind of where I'm finding myself right now.  I feel like we are walking in the wilderness sometimes, or out in the back yard at midnight without a flashlight.

As a team, my husband and I feel called to ministry; him to preach, teach, and disciple a flock; and myself to mentor women in the faith, while sharing our daily lives with believers and nonbelievers alike.  In our first years of marriage, he completed his Masters of Divinity at Southeastern Seminary. His plan was to find an avenue for college ministry.  However, that wasn't God's plan, so he began working in the computer world, working his way up the corporate ladder, continuing to teach whenever the opportunities would arise in the church.  It wasn't until a few years ago, that he felt the pull to figure out what God wanted him to do with his life in terms of ministry.  At a Together for the Gospel Conference, it became clear to him that God had called him to ministry, but to teaching and preaching within a church body.  I was not surprised because I'd felt for many years his education, vision, and gifting were best suited to ministry within the local church.  We set a timeline for pulling back from secular work, as we were getting our finances in order, and to pursue ministry opportunities.

We are now at that point in our timeline.  In addition to pursuing the where of ministry, he returned last fall to Southeastern for an additional degree, a Masters in Theology (Th.M.).  Until he comes close to finishing this degree, we will need to remain in the general area.  We know we can't make up for lost time, all those years before he had this direction in ministry, but we are both in our forties and ready to feel settled.  Hmm, feeling settled, that is a human desire.  So, we are waiting, and waiting.  We were so excited for the first door, until it was only open a crack, and then it closed.  Then there was the second door, which we soon realized had to be why God had to close the first door.   Wrong.  Door number two closed as well.  One dear friend said to me, "Wonder what He (God) is up to!"  That brings us to door number three, a transition and somewhat temporary door.  Is that what God wants for us while we wait?  There it is again, so much change, and it is within the unknown.

I was thinking how I'm a terribly skeptical person about all the latest nutritional and medicinal advice out there in the news and most prevalent in social media.  You see, the reason I'm so skeptical is that these rules are always changing.  Studies will prove that x, y, and z are the best foods for you and next year new studies will tell you those same foods might kill you.  Similarly, science and technology are ever changing as well.  The only print we have that we can truly rely for direction is God's Word.  His Word will never change nor its meaning ever change.

I've been spending a lot of time working algebraic equations with one of my sons.  (An aside from this post, is that it is nice bonding time!).  We were working the other day on graphing inconsistencies, indeterminate, and determinate equations.  I won't try to explain all three of these linear equations in depth.  However, with an indeterminate system, two equations can be satisfied by an unlimited number of pairs.  The equations are consistent because the points lie along the same line.  An inconsistent system yields two lines that do not intersect in any way.  While a determinate system has one pair of number values in common, in which the two lines intersect.   I was thinking God's ways are like the consistent system.  They never veer from that line.  The line is ongoing on both ends, meaning it is far reaching for us, but it never goes off track.  We can be filled with hope when we plot our points on His system, we know we can stay the course.  We might not know where we are headed, but our consistent and constant God knows the next set of points.  Yes, there is change but with God as the flashlight there is order.

To sum it up, we might have to walk into Door A all the way to Door Z, but we will be faithful to what He has called us to do, and He will be faithful to accomplish His purposes.  Philippians 1:6 says, "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  That is good news for us, when we aren't so sure about the details, when we find ourselves waiting and unable to see.  I remind myself often that the difficulties and unknowns of this life are no surprise to our unchanging God.  He tells us in James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."  We might feel like we are walking around in the dark, but did you catch that ---- We have a Father of LIGHTS!  Furthermore, He is constant, no variation whatsoever to who He is.  His guidance is unchanging, as are His promises, and very nature.

There are others whom I love that are walking, step by step, without a clear picture of what is ahead. Take comfort today in the fact that God who guides, sees the whole picture, and doesn't need glasses or a flashlight to do so.  We can trust Him, because He is the Father of lights, whom we can trust with our every need.