I read this sentence last week (in all caps, including eight exclamation points!). It was the beginning of a Facebook message from a friend of mine who has been contemplating full-time missions for a while. The Oswald is Oswald Chambers. My friend had started re-reading My Utmost for His Highest, a daily devotional.
I’m not sure why I stopped reading My Utmost, but thanks to technology, I’ve started again. I’m only a few days in, and I’m already echoing my friend most mornings. You have got to be kidding me Oswald!Yesterday I was talking with a couple of the SI staff about marriage. Don’t get excited, it wasn’t about ME getting married! Instead, we were talking about how being legally married is not a priority for the people of El Callejon. We, of course, believe that God’s will is for them to be married, not just living together.
But, just telling the women that it is ‘in the Bible’ and ‘God says so’ doesn’t seem to be working. How do we get them to see how important this is – for themselves, for their children, for their ‘husbands’?Then, this morning I read today’s My Utmost devotional entitled, “What is that to You?” based on Jesus’ words to Peter at the end of John 21. The first sentence says, “One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives.” You’ve got to be kidding me Oswald!
Chambers goes on to say that when we see someone suffering, our immediate thought is that we’re going to make sure they don’t suffer. Sounds good, except perhaps we are trying to get in the way of what God has planned for the other person.I remember learning in Perspectives that our role as missionaries is to help people encounter Jesus, to disciple them, but to always point them to the Bible as their source of guidance.
We see what we consider to be the biggest areas of concern. For us, marriage is one of those. But, is it possible that the Holy Spirit will reveal to them another, deeper area of sin, that needs to be tackled first?
Put another way, is it possible we getting in the way of His work in the women by insisting on legal marriage as the first step toward obedience? Are we stubbornly refusing to refrain from interfering? You have got to be kidding me Oswald!
Part of me would like to just dismiss him. But, it’s not that simple. At MTI we learned that people generally do things that make sense to them.
There is a reason the women aren’t choosing to be legally married. What is it? I don’t know because I haven’t taken the time to find out. Perhaps that’s my starting point. Prayerfully leaving behind my understanding of what is right and trying to hear theirs.
Perhaps through those conversations, the Holy Spirit will open opportunities to help the women discern His will for them. Do I believe that He can speak directly to them or am I arrogantly going to insist that because I have more knowledge/education/money/power He will tell ME what they need to do? But… but…
Chambers says that our part is to maintain a right relationship with God so that His discernment can work through us for the purpose of blessing someone else. I do want to be a blessing to the women of El Callejon. The best way I can do so is to remain firmly attached to the True Vine. Only in Him can I do anything of value.
Oh, Father, thank you for using others, like Oswald Chambers, to help me see more of You. I pray for Your strength to seek Your will for my life. I pray for Your discernment as I look for ways to connect Your truth with where those living in El Callejon are right now.
Father, increase my trust in You. I know You have moved in me, and You will also move in them. May I be a part of Your work, not a stumbling block. May Your will be done in my life and in the lives of those in El Callejon, in Your perfect way, in Your perfect timing!
(P.S. If you are not familiar with it, check out myutmost.org. Fair warning, your toes are probably going to be stepped on!)