Tag Archives: trust

my work and God’s work

it has been quite a busy month.  there’s a lot that still needs to be accomplished.  but it’s good to know God is always at work…if we just stop to notice.

being away on paternity leave a month ago opened my eyes up to my own insecurity and identity wrapped up in the work that i produce.  although having plenty of time with my family and newborn son was full of windows of joy, there was a gnawing sense of not feeling “productive” being unable to do all the work i’m usually a part of. why is it that if there isn’t visible exciting results of my labor, there’s a part of me that doesn’t allow myself to enjoy God and what he has given me?  isn’t it God’s will that i am joyful and thankful in ALL circumstances just as much as that i do good?

as i returned back to work there was still that sense that i needed to catch up for the lost work at best and at worst haunted by what i imagined was people’s disapproval that i wasn’t doing enough.  many of the people i am reaching out to were struggling or unresponsive.  the focus of the work was just on maintaing.  one night at youth group i gave a teaching on our Heavenly Father’s commitment to love us and was challenged to, along with the youth, listen to what God wanted to speak to us.  as i looked out into the group of people present, i saw in my mind’s eye kernels of wheat sprouting and i sensed God say to me “don’t focus only on what you see…I am at work.”          

later that week, through a facebook post of all places, God led me to this stunning passage in scripture:

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

– Jeremiah 17:5-8

here i was wearing myself out with what i could do and the results of MY work when i was not trusting what HE could do with what is ultimately HIS work.   if i looked back in the past months he had been leading me through chapters 40s-50s in the book of Isaiah…the constant theme is how HE is God and we, or anything else we set up to focus on, is not.  i just hadn’t been making the connections to work.

don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t just throw our hands up in the air and neglect our responsibilities with the work God’s entrusted to us.  it’s just that at the end of the day who or what are we really trusting in to get things done?  for me, in my heart of hearts, that trust was not in God.  if you’re unable to sleep at night stressing about all that you need to do maybe it’s not God that you’re trusting but yourself.  so i kept doing what He put in my care but i threw my weight into prayer to God for the results.  i got a little bold in asking God to do what He promised he was about in His word.  it’s been pretty sweet to see Him at work now that i’m looking at it with fresh eyes.  one of the people i’ve been i’ve been investing in who had been ignoring my calls/texts initiated with me and has been coming to church after a long absence.  through an urban leaders conference we went to last weekend, i got to witness God softening and ministering to the hearts of a number of young leaders that had been distant but God’s been opening them up to His goodness again. God has been exciting me with visions of things to come…that still haven’t happened yet.

we still got a ways to go.  i still have a ways to go.  but let’s not be like shrubbery in the desert.  let’s be fruitful trees planted in His Living Water.

trees water better

God can do our work better than us

“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” 

This month we had a big fundraiser dinner we were planning for the non-profit I work with.  I was just focused on what I needed to do, which was to work on a video slide show.  As time progressed I knew that there were very few people who signed up to attend the event, an event which would be critical to outreach to donors to continue this important work of investing into the people of our community in need.   If we don’t get pledges for support our non-profit cannot continue to exist.  Yet, in my selfishness I didn’t take time to really think of the impact to our community of having this event flop.  I made a video.  One of the advisors gave me detailed feedback to make it better.  I bristled in response with what I had put my time into.  My pride was hurt.

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’

Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

The night before the event, I was frustrated, we were under pressure to finish many things still, still less than half of our expected numbers of guests, and, to make matters worse, we were having conflict amongst ourselves.  Around midnight, I texted a number of friends to pray for us and the banquet that would be happening in less than 24 hours.

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.”

My advisor initiated a conversation with me and we resolved our issue around 1:30am.  I showed up at the banquet hall an hour prior to the event at 5pm to meet with the rest of the team.  Once there I began to realize I had forgotten about a speaker for the video, a screen for a projector, and a power strip.  All things I needed if we were going to show a video.  Even the one thing I was entrusted with I failed to completely follow through with.  Phone calls were made by my advisor.  Different people from our community came through with each item.   People came trickling in, many as last minute additions, and before we knew it all 50 seats was taken.  In fact, more people kept on coming.  We had to squeeze in two more tables!   Different people in our community shared about how they had been affected meaningfully by the existence of our non-profit.  Even someone who does not live in our community stood up to speak and challenged everyone present to consider supporting this non-profit to become an institution that could spread its positive impact beyond just our community.   Needless to say the event was a success.  People were encouraged.  Our community worked together…all in spite of my shortcomings.   God stepped in…and it made all the difference.

“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

net-fishing-sea-of-galilee-thomas-r-fletcher

do you trust me?

it has been difficult to persevere in loving and praying for these young ones i am investing in…to follow my own challenge from this past month.  and i haven’t even been doing it for that long.  i feel like when i see one step forward there are two steps back.  honestly, its been discouraging to hold onto His Word to keep on going to Him with my heart.  I don’t want to be let down.

yet, He keeps on persevering with me.  He keeps on speaking to me.  He keeps on encouraging me to pray.    to trust Him.

–       through my quiet time in malachi 3:13-16 He has reminded me how my complaining spirit grieves Him and belies a mistrust in the goodness of His character.

–       through my quiet time with sergio in luke 9:37-42 i saw again how the disciples couldn’t drive out a demon with their lack of faith

–       through the book, transforming society, that I was reading for my internship i was reminded i need faith to extinguish the arrows of the enemies discouragement

–       through a friend of mine who finally got to experience the salvation of his sister i recalled his YEARS of heart-break and prayer.

– through quiet time with galatians 3:5 i was encouraged that God’s power on our behalf has nothing to do with how good we are but with if we believe Him

–       through caesar’s sharing with the youth from matthew 7:7-11 i was reminded to ask, seek, and knock on God’s door because He wants to give us good

–       through pastor chris’ word to the leadership team from mark 8:31-38 i was reminded that if i seek my own immediate comfort over His path of suffering, like peter, i will find myself on the wrong team.

over and over again i’m being reminded that faith is a big deal to God.  why?  i’m still not entirely sure.  one thing He is showing me, though, is that my choice to persevere or not reveals what I really think of Him.   to the extent that I begin to think he is cruel and doesn’t care, my prayers are tiresome things.  to the extent that i think (like His Word shows me) that He is much smarter (like He showed me by bringing ji into my life), bigger (like He showed me by taking me around the world), and better (like He showed me by giving me the gift of His Son and my son) than I realize, my prayers take wings.

I don’t know why i am not seeing the positive answer to my prayers right now.  maybe i will see the answer in this life, maybe i won’t.  but the question still remains:   who is this God that I serve and will I trust Him today?

day 5: presence

Isaiah 7:10-17; Matthew 1:22-25

‘Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.’ And he[Isaiah] said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.'” – Isaiah 7:11-14

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”- Matthew 1:23-24

God will bring about the impossible: a young woman would conceive a child without having had sexual intercourse.  God the Father’s favor would be over young mary, God the Spirit would enable her to be with child, and she would carry God the Son in her womb.  all of this so that each of us could experience “God with us.”  Jesus would come into a world that didn’t believe, even like king ahaz who didn’t trust in God, and into a world that would have killed Him even before He was born because people thought he was a bastard of a seemingly unfaithful wife.  even when we didn’t believe or couldn’t conceive of Him, He is born into our world and He is with us.

do we believe He is present with us, even when it seems impossible for Him to be?

thank you Lord that you are with us.