The 10 Scariest Scriptures, part VI

Mark 6 37a

Mark 6:37

“You give them something to eat.”

That was Jesus’ response when the disciples asked him to send the people away. It was late in the day and they were in a remote place. After giving instructions to settle them into groups, Jesus blessed the food and the disciples served them. About five thousand were fed that day.

I remember a time when I was afraid to ask God to grow me. As a budding Christ-follower, I had a sense that if I asked, He would answer and I didn’t know exactly what would come next. Probably, I was afraid of what I’d have to give up and I wasn’t quite ready for that part of the Christian experience. But I knew the day would come when I would ask and so I started praying. I prayed that I would see His path, hear His words and act without fear. Time passed, I continued to do what I thought I was supposed to do and He continued to love me. Along the way, I saw this scripture as a marker in my life, a call to grow. I realized that over the years, I’d been fed by family and friends, each who nurtured me in their own way: my wife who has loved me so wholly as to round-off the sharp edges in my heart; my family who have encouraged and supported me, whether it’s a simple hug or a loving word. I remember that visits to the in-laws usually involved going to church and jogging. I dreaded both, but it worked – the seed planted has sprouted. My weeks are now planned around going to church and jogging. There are friends who showed me how to find my calling, who soul-stormed with me to find the place where my passion leads. A 5k Mission was born of this – food was collected and awareness raised for those in need. Other friends involved me in street ministry and showed me how to see and love the homeless. They were so patient and gave me room to grow in a meaningful way; they helped me find my voice.

For all the prayers, all the love and support I’ve received, I see how much I’ve been fed. And now He is calling me, ‘to give them something to eat.’ You see, when Jesus fed the five thousand he gave the disciples an opportunity to serve and love the people. It was training, to go into this crowd and give them food and encouragement, to build relationships and establish themselves. To love. Jesus was making them known. That’s huge. It’s important. And it’s awesome.

He calls me ‘to give them something to eat,’ not just through deeds, but with words. There is a testimony, my testimony, that’s woven into the fabric of His grace and it must be shared. At times I want to cry out, ‘Lord, not me!’ It’s a fleeting thought – the enemy never ceases to attack. But I believe God wouldn’t have brought me to this point if He hadn’t prepared me for it. He is making me known, and though it gives me an initial shock, I’m grateful, so blessed, to have the opportunity to feed others.

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The 10 Scariest Scriptures, part V

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Ezekiel 22:30

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” (NIV)

I carry this verse with me, always. Sometimes it feels like a burden, a great weight sitting on my shoulders, and I want to drop it or hurl it or smash it and run like hell to the light or dark or wherever. Sometimes. Then I remember love, and the privilege, the honor that is in serving Him. There’s a responsibility and this verse reminds me not only of that, but also of the consequences of bailing out: in Ezekiel’s time it was God’s judgment; today, it’s the enemy rushing through the gaps. Knowing this, I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to cause others to stumble. I don’t want to let Him down. I want to be strong, but there are so many times that I’m weak. And that’s what scares me – during those times of weakness, I want to run and hide. But then I remember this verse and I believe that I’ve been called to stand in the gap, to mend the wall. I realize in the calm that comes in the midst of the fury that I am singing His praise, and I will stand in the gap, I will help mend the wall and I will serve because He is building a warrior in me. I am growing stronger in Him. And this is all good but the attacks come in waves, the enemy is vigilant and I grow tired. Beaten by the enemy’s blows I’m frightened. I cry out, ‘God save me!’ And this utterance, this pronouncement of faith, is enough to keep hope alive, knowing that the love of the Father lives through the Son. And it’s this love that sustains me ‘in the gap.’

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The 10 Scariest Scriptures, part IV

Preparing

Genesis 22:9-11

My son recently got a car, well, vehicle. His first one – a Ford Expedition. A big, solid, gas-guzzling SUV-type truck. We considered a fuel-efficient model but preferred something bigger and safer. Even though we had been talking about this Expedition for a week and a half, we still surprised him when we dropped it off at his work. He loved it! And even after I told him that he had to pay for gas, pitch in for insurance and make payments, he still loved it! And so begins this chapter.

I was thinking about that, this new chapter, the next day while I was putting a road-side kit together for him. This is a journey for him. As I was walking out of the store with a toolkit, jumper cables, flashlight, medicine kit and gloves, I began wondering if I’ve prepared him for this journey. Just as I knew that his roadside kit was incomplete (he needs a blanket, coat and water), I realized that these are things he’ll have to add himself. I can’t give him everything – I can just hope that I’ve taught him well enough.

Life is like that, too. When I first started reading the bible, I wondered if Abraham had thought the same of Isaac before heading into the wilderness. Had he done enough to prepare him for life? Could he have taught him more? Was he given opportunities to learn from mistakes in a safe way? You see, Isaac was beginning his journey, too. And then God called Abraham to test him:

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” (NLT)

Now I know how the story works out; know that Abraham walked in faith; know that he’d been chosen and had walked with God many years. But when I read this for the first time, I thought, ‘Oh Lord, no!’ I struggle with this even today. Parents are supposed to sacrifice for their children, right? Supposed to do anything, everything to keep them safe. The thought of harm coming to my kids hurts. I don’t want to think about it. But Abraham was obedient, even up to the last moment. His was a faith that knew some how, some way God would provide. And He did. He still does. Reading this scripture terrifies me. But then I understand – I have a greater appreciation, a greater love for the Father who would offer His Son – for me.

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