by Joe Mason
I grew up in a Christian home. I knew how to follow the “rules” of Christianity. When I’d fall outside of those rules, my dad ensured that I knew it. My parents were also very active in our church, and I really thought that following the rules was everything to living the “Christian” life.
I went to university and got started in my career without really seeking God’s leadership, without really being filled by Him and getting to know what He had planned for my future (I wasn’t following His Spirit). I thought that as long as I didn’t “break any commandments,” and lived a good life that I was pretty free to make decisions as I wanted other than that. And I was doing pretty good at that.
There were a number of steps that I had taken over the years that deepened my relationship with God. But the one that had the most impact was when I decided to come on staff at The Nations. That was the first time I’d really sought out God and made a decision that didn’t actually make practical sense. It was a reduction in pay, so I’d have to work an extra job. I was really excited for it…but for different reasons. There was a huge sense of purpose that was being fulfilled, and it was the most rewarding experience I had ever had up to that point.
Moving to Nepal was another huge step of faith. But, again, God showed me that His ways are far better than mine. I was concerned about raising and living on support, seeing friends that struggled for years to be funded, but ours was raised in about 6 months (I had actually considered missions 10 years earlier, but the fundraising aspect kept me from it). I thought trekking was going to be grueling and a burden, but we have thoroughly enjoyed it. We were concerned with food and water safety, but God has kept us healthy. It’s again been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Shortly after moving, God showed me something. I had thought that my role was so important, and that the work wouldn’t get done without me. And we really do need more and more people to GO, somewhere (anywhere), and reap the harvest that God has waiting (Matthew 9:37). But I realized shortly after arriving, that God’s work would get done regardless of whether or not I came.
It was Christmas morning, and we went out for a walk. The holiday is technically on the calendar here, but the only people who celebrate it are Christian. We had been hearing loud music and celebrating all morning, and we realized that it was from a church down the way. We started to notice a handful of shops were closed. Some men were wearing suits (unusual outside of a wedding), and some ladies wearing their ornate sarees. Maybe people wouldn’t have noticed, but there were a lot of small things that made me realize that God was doing something under the surface of our neighborhood. The church is present and in love with Him. God is moving in the Nepali people. We later learned of a house church nearby where a lot of our neighbor kids have been going during lockdown, so they have something to do. We’ve met two Christian ladies who together said that even though they were poor, they were rich because they have Jesus. God is doing amazing things in our neighborhood.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21, with a focus on verse 19
God reminded me of a lazy river, like you’d see at Caribbean Bay. You can hop on wherever you like and get off it for a bit to go get a snack. Or if it’s cold, you can stop at the hot tubs. Kids are playing and having fun. It’s a lot of fun, and one of my favorite parts of the water park. What God showed me is that, I can put my tube in the water, and it doesn’t really affect anything. The river is going to flow, and carry people along, whether or not I’m in it. But it’s so much fun to be there with everyone! We can sit on the side and watch, or we can listen to the voice of our friends telling us to get in and enjoy the ride. The quicker we get into the water, the longer we can enjoy the fun.
God made me realize that living in the Spirit and serving in His work is such a blessing. He’ll get done whatever needs to get done. But by making decisions that bring me into His plan and the work that He is doing is the purpose of why we’re here on earth. We can stand by the river, watching everyone else have fun. We can follow the rules and make sure we don’t break His commandments and live the life of a “good Christian”. But life is better, life is more fulfilling, and we get a sense of purpose when we walk in God’s Spirit and work alongside Him and His plan. Life is better when we bring Him into our plans and decisions and seek what He really wants for us.
It takes a lot for that first step of faith, and it’s scary the places He might take us (I was hoping for ministry on the beaches of Thailand, I wasn’t expecting the mountains of Nepal). But His ways are better, and He builds those desires as we allow Him to work in our lives. I was indifferent the first time I saw the mountains (wishing for a beach!), but He built the desire after I listened to the Spirit. And in the end, we get the absolute joy of walking in His Spirit along the way.
Share a time when you were uneasy to listen to the Spirit, but were fulfilled as a result of listening and following.
1. Group: Pray for openness to follow God’s Spirit wherever that may take us.
2. Personal: Ask God to reveal something personally that He has been telling you to do.
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