These Days…

These days (and by days, I mean months) things have started getting busier in multiple aspects. Work has actually required me to put in more hours than usual, especially when I was visiting NJ for a week and working remotely. I’m also applying for graduate school for the 2011 fall semester, and applications are a pain to put together and submit. Church work is also picking up – not just in quantity, but also in variety. I was recently appointed to a task which I am not accustomed to doing, nor do I feel am best suited for.

This may come off as whiny and lame, but the truth is I’m starting to feel the pressure and stress. I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more rushed and edgy and impatient. I worry a lot about not being able to fulfill my duties faithfully and conscientiously. I’m not really worried about my job work, since I already dedicate 9+ hours a day for it (and have no intention of spending more at this point). It’s how I manage the remaining time that worries me. Time management and self-discipline was never my strong suit.

But maybe I need this. We only grow through difficulty, right? And especially when it comes to holy work, we need to learn to do it “not by might, nor by power, but by [God’s] Spirit.” If anything, the responsibilities in store will require me to pray a lot more. They’ll teach me to truly draw strength from God. There’s no way I can do it all on my own and not be miserably weary.

Trying to remind myself that holy work is a wonderful grace and blessing. It’s a privilege to undertake it; a noble task. When I was in college, away from church, there was very little I could do and I envied my friends who were able to contribute so much. Now I’m starting to see how hard and tiring it can be. I think I’ll be meditating on Moses, Paul, and Jesus a lot in the days to come. And of course, there are a good number of faithful servants who exhaust themselves for the flock that I can look to for encouragement as well.

Lord, please enlarge my heart. May I be a useful vessel for Your body.

Time to sleep. A full day awaits.

Quote about Love

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength…. It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where he who does not love would faint and lie down.

Malachi 3:13-17

Heard this passage during a class on the doctrine of God and wanted to get it down before I forgot it. The latter portion is very applicable to me right now and is something I need to do more (i.e. share with spiritual friends when it’s hard to submit to God). In particular, with other brothers haha.

Mal 3:13-17  “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the LORD, Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’

(14)  You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the LORD of hosts?

(15)  So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ ”

(16)  Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.

(17)  “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels.  And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.”

The Test at the Water

Gideon had just received assurance of God’s abidance via the wet and dry fleece. He already had an army gathered together to confront the army of Midian. The Midianites were camped just below them in the valley. At this crucial moment of confidence and poise, God said, “Wait! You have too many people with you.”

Just as Gideon requested two signs of confirmation from God, God made two requests of Gideon. The first test was the obvious one – Gideon said that whoever was afraid could back out at the last minute and go home. 22,000 left, and 10,000 remained. Less than one third of the people had the courage to stay and fight.

But again, God said there were too many. He wanted to test them again.

Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.

The people were divided according to how they drank water; those who knelt down to drink vs. those who cupped water in their hands and brought it to their mouths. The two groups were immensely uneven – 9,700 knelt down to drink, whereas the remaining 300 brought their hands to their mouths. God said, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” From 32,000 willing and able volunteers, only 300 were chosen.

The second test, the test at the water, is interesting. While the first “test” was administered by Gideon, the second was administered by God Himself. God’s criteria also seems strange – people were chosen based on how they drank water. They were evaluated not according to age, physical fitness, nor fighting experience, but according to the manner in which they performed a simple, everyday mundane task.

The same principle also applies today when God selects His workers in the church. There may be many of us who are willing to serve, many of us who are zealously determined to be a part of God’s army when we have the choice to back out. All of us have passed the first test of self-declaring, “I am able.”

In addition to our willingness, there may be many of us who are extremely qualified and multi-talented, eager to use our gifts for holy work. We may think, “Surely God will choose me to do ___ because one of my strengths is ___.”

But what is God looking for? Is it the most talented? Is it the most experienced? No. Rather, He looks at our daily conduct, routines, and interactions. He notes the mundane decisions we make without a second thought. He observes the manner in which we live from day to day. Only those who live in such a way that is right in God’s eyes will be selected. Talents and abilities are irrelevant; they all come from God, and God can bestow them upon whomever He wishes. Indeed, many are willing, capable, and gifted. But God is looking for the few who live carefully and walk circumspectly; those whose ways are approving in His sight. The 300 to be chosen out of the 32,000.

The issue of salvation is similar. Many have come to believe on their own volition, but not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 7:21). It’s not enough to say you believe in Jesus. It’s not enough to just show up at church every week. It’s not even enough to have the desire to serve. Contrary to what some may preach, our deeds, how we conduct ourselves on a day to day basis, matter! Yes, we are not saved by works, but we are most certainly judged by themMany are called, but few are chosen (Mt 22:14).