Saturday, June 9, 2007

A matter of trust

This summer is requiring a lot of trust in my Father. It's funny... I know that He will come through here, do something incredible. I just don't know what it's going to look like yet. And I - the physics major, the apologetics geek, the answer freak - have a hard time if I don't know exactly how things are going to play out. It's not so much my mind as my heart that's struggling right now. My mental theology is fine; my emotional theology, not so much. I'm working on grounding myself in the Word and meditating on it so that I can retrain my heart to trust, to believe God will come through.

I have $1500 left to pay for the Focus on the Family Institute. I also have almost $800 in other bills to pay this summer. My job will probably pay for the latter. It won't cover the former - nor even close. I've no idea - none whatsoever - how God is going to move that mountain; yet I also know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am at this moment precisely where I'm supposed to be. I have rarely in my life experienced the peace I have right now about being here at the Institute, with these people, at this time. This was a divine appointment. That means that God has a way for me to walk through this; He (who is He Who Provides) will do all that is necessary for His will to be fulfilled. I don't know what my part is beyond what I'm doing. Many thoughts, ideas... none of which would help, so far as I can see.

I'm immensely blessed at that first total - the $1500 left for the Institute. That means that people have generously (and probably sacrificially) given some $500 dollars for this. To all of you who have given who might read this: thank you. That's a lot! And to those of you who have prayed for provision: thank you! That's equally important here!

I do ask for your continued prayers, for your continued spiritual support for me. Indeed, I ask for more, and for all of my colleagues here at the Institute, not just myself. It's become very clear over the last week that by being here, we've very much put ourselves on the front lines of the spiritual battle going on in America. There have been a lot of attacks - physically, emotionally, spiritually - against us already, from sickness to our dreams. We need your covering and support as we are very much waging a battle here. It is good to know we are not fighting it alone, or even just those of us here.

For now, I must get to eating and reading before I head off to work. God bless you all, and may He richly reward you as you continue to follow after Him!

- Chris

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Out of the whirlwind...

God's answer to our hearts' questions is always timely, and always amazing. Even when it doesn't seem timely to us (e.g., to Job, who waited for what appears to be many months before he heard God answer his questions), it is, and it is exactly what is needed at that moment.

Thank you all for the words of encouragement after my last post. I was perhaps not clear: I am not walking in fear, but in exactly the trust you all pointed me to. God is in control. I refuse, as I note, to speculate, or even spend any time thinking, about possible difficult times; my eyes are on His cross and on what He is doing in my life - both of which are amazing and miraculous.

But in confirmation of what I'd been praying about regarding trusting Him - in confirmation of all you wrote to me in the last day - God opened His word to me last night. I almost just closed my Bible after my time of study in Job (and how refreshing that was: to see God's character as I moved through Job 38 and 39: it's very much a blessing!) - but the Spirit prompted me to read a Psalm as I often do. So I turned to the next Psalm in sequence for me, Psalm 27. The first words:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

The rest of the chapter is excellent, worth reading: because it points us to Him, makes clear that David's trust in God existed because He knew who God was - and knew Him well.. Our ability to trust Him is directly related to our knowledge of Him. Indeed, if we know Him, if we really and truly understand His character, there will be no question of our trusting Him: because He is absolutely worthy of our trust, like no other person is. He never fails; He never leaves or forsakes us; He never leaves us to ourselves. He is intimately concerned with every detail of our lives. He loves us.

God bless you all. May you experience His power and His calling in your life - in great power.

- Chris

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Various Life Updates

Well, I've now moved into the apartments for Focus on the Family Institute. The last few weeks have been very busy, what with looking for work, having my oldest younger sister graduate high school (with the huge number of extended family members around that that implies), and then moving in here and having orientation - on top of working.

Yes, working. God's provision is absolutely amazing. I am in awe of how He has worked on my behalf. He has required some of me, of course, but much of the work He has simply done for me, in ways that I would never have guessed at. I'm working at the Mardel here in Colorado Springs, which is an immense blessing. I really like the people I'm working with here (though I very much miss my friends and fellow workers at Store #9 in Norman). But more than that, I have to stand amazed at how God worked. When I first got in town and spoke to the general manager of this store, she was interested but said she'd probably only be able to give me 8-10 hours a week, maximum. Now, I need at least 19 hours each week just to pay my regular bills - and there is much to pay for the Institute as well, and basic living expenses for being in the apartment. That wasn't going to work. So I immediately began looking at other possibilities. None of them were seeming to go anywhere, though, which was somewhat disheartening. Yet the Spirit continued, in His grace, to prompt me to simply trust Him. (That's an ongoing teaching right now: I struggle immensely at times, which is interesting, because there are times and situations about which I have no difficulty trusting.) And then He showed how trustworthy He is. Suddenly my manager wanted to know if I could take on more hours - maybe up to fifteen. I readily agreed. Then it was more - how many could I possibly work? And not only that, but I'm getting trained in multiple departments across the store, so wherever and whenever there's a need, they can use me to fill in. I'm probably going to have to ask them to limit my hours to some extent so that I can still have the necessary time not only to study but to truly and deeply connect with my fellow students here at the Institute.

Speaking of whom - I'm incredibly blessed at the people around me. My roommates (those who are here so far; one arrives tomorrow) are great guys with strong hearts for the Lord; I'm very encouraged. I know that God has put us together specifically for very particular reasons, and I'm excited to see what the rest of the summer will look like for all of us. We're all doing things we've not done before - like putting together a grocery shopping list. (We're all excited to be cooking and so forth... yes, we guys are excited about it.) I know that the Spirit will be using us to sharpen and teach each other, though I do not know exactly how. As well, the small team I've been assigned to is already proving to be a blessing. Just in the course of our orientation yesterday, it became very clear that God has put us together uniquely and purposefully: we fit together extremely well, and we work as a team extremely well. Our personalities all mesh well, and we complement each other nicely. We all have much to learn of course, but God is going to be working mightily this semester. That keeps coming up: it's a theme of every person who has spoken to us; and it is the sense that we all have in our own hearts. I was greatly encouraged by the word spoken to us on Friday night by Dr. Del Tackett, where he emphasized the transformation that they long to see in our hearts this semester - the very thing I've been praying for in this semester. God's faithfulness goes above and beyond. And the others I've met so far are also great people; from the other guys in the apartment across the way to the girls directly above us that we hung out with this evening to the various other guys and girls that we've met so far, all are hungry for God's word and for His work in their lives; and all are passionate about advancing His kingdom. It's an exciting place to be.

And yet - and I don't really understand this completely - I have a bit of fear for this semester. It's not related to finances; I know God will provide, though I don't yet know what it will look like. But as I pray about this semester, I'm increasingly getting the sense that it's going to involve pain - loss. I don't know what that means, or why I'm getting that sense. But it's getting stronger. I feel like the bubble of security is about to get popped, though I don't fully understand what that might mean or look like. And it's that lack of understanding that is triggering the fear, I think - the simple fact that whatever is ahead is unknown. I believe this is something from the Spirit, not just my own trepidations, though I do not fully know. I do know that I've been struggling with some emotional issues since Laurie Goree's father passed away a little while ago. It made me sharply aware of the brevity of life and of the immediacy with which people can be torn away from us. Yet this sense that some kind of loss might be ahead has been around since Christmastime. I can't explain it - the sensation of sort of bracing yourself, against what you don't know. I refuse to let my imagination run; what will be will be; yet there is still a certain amount of fear trying to minister. I'm turning it over to God; yet I am struggling because I simply can't see ahead of me. I would simply dismiss this as being triggered by having various people close to me experiencing different losses; yet it keeps coming up, and prayer has not given me any sense to the contrary; indeed it has seemed to confirm it. I had a moment this evening while hearing our Resident Supervisor's testimony and her statement that the semester ahead would be truly good for us, where she shared Psalm 126:3 with us, that I sensed both the truth of it and that this semester would be painful for me, and very much so. I am going to simply wait and see. I know that God is God; and this may pass - or it may come to pass. Regardless, He is God.

And I am excited about this summer. Not least about the different things God is calling me to do with it - the study, the fellowship, the writing. I have started on a large writing project that may keep my blogging down a bit, but I will still try to update as frequently as possible with everything else going on.

God is good. And He wants you to know Him better! I love you all. Our Father's blessing and keeping be with you; may His peace cover you; may His light shine on you and His love cover you. In Him,

- Chris