In a few weeks time, our family is headed back to the United States for our next home assignment. Are we excited to visit our family and friends? We can’t tell you how much!
It is a great privilege to do the mission work we do in southern Africa. We love serving our God and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ and growing in our relationship with Him here.
It is also a great gift to be able to visit our family, friends, and supporting churches for an extended period of time on home assignment. We’ve been on the mission field for nine and a half years. The love, support and care we have received during this time from our support team has been absolutely phenomenal! We love to come back and say, “Thank you!”
We look forward to home assignments – not so much for the food, not so much for how ‘easier’ or ‘convenient’ life can be there, or for even the things we will get to do – but for the rich memories we will make with our family and friends. We love listening, loving, and being with those we do not get to see as often as we would like. Such times are very precious to us.
As part of that preparation to return to my homeland, I have been reading through, meditating upon, and praying over the book of James. James doesn’t pull any punches in his letter to the Christian community, believe me. His book is a serious call to live life in a real, authentic way. He has really challenged me to not just talk the talk as a Christ follower but live out my life in complete submission to Him.
As I consider and pray about the next six and a half months in the States, my heart and mind keep returning to these particular words of exhortation:
Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. New International Version, James 4: 8-10
Or said another way in the Message:
Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. The Message, James 4: 8-10
My take on this so far is that I need to get even closer to my God. He’s ready to get close to me. What do I need to get closer to Him?
First things first, I need to choose to come closer to God. I must acknowledge my need of Him and His care, guidance and protection in my life. I choose to submit and follow His will and purpose.
Second, where there is sin in my life, I must confess it. Pride, self-indulgence and self-gratification, resentments, worries, bitterness, self-control, you name it, they’ve gotta go! My sins must be confessed and released. It says in Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sins that so easily entangles, and let us run with the perseverance the race marked out before us.” New International Version, Hebrews 12:1
I am running a unique Kingdom race in honor of my God and my Savior. My God has designed this course for me. I don’t want to be tripped up by pride or anything else that would prevent me from running strong and steady for Christ and His purpose. And I don’t want any stumbling block to prevent some one else from seeing Christ in me. This is why I need to confess my sins – every single day.
Third, my heart needs to express real sorrow and regret for my sins and transgressions. I’m not talking to others; I’m talking to me. Friends, we are too quick to point out the foibles, weaknesses and problems in others. That’s hypocrisy. This is a personal assessment of my heart life – with my God.
And last of all?
I need to humble myself before my God. It’s not a time to stand up. It is time to kneel. I bow before my God in faith, trust, and obedience. It’s a time to direct my heart into the Holy and Amazing Presence of the Living God! I don’t have any idea what is ahead for my family and me in the next six and a half months while we are in the United States. However, what I am hearing is that I need to be as close as I can to my God while we’re there.
I guess what I’ve been experiencing lately is a spiritual preparation to return to my homeland. I am readying my heart for ‘home.’ I need to be listening. I need to be available. And most of all…I need to be ready!
In the meantime, I will continue to draw near to my God and wait in wondrous expectation for Him to draw near to me – because He will!
May these words be my prayer:
I choose to draw near to You. I come with both confidence and humility before your throne of grace. I seek to receive Your mercy and Your forgiveness. Please grant me Your grace to help me and sustain me during our home assignment in the States. Father God, please guide my steps today and with the many steps that await in the future. Your will be done.
I am grateful for this incredible time we shall have in the States. It is a great gift. How grateful I am.
I love you, Lord.
Image retrieved from Google Maps of Portland, OR