Sometimes you simply stand back in complete awe and wonder at the handiwork of the Lord! We all speak of and know of the faithfulness of God. Yet, being flesh and blood, we often wonder if we truly have the faith that is pleasing to the Lord.
I have commented on numerous occasions that it seems as if we are leaping into a deep, dark abyss and that some-where down there are the hands of the Lord waiting to catch us. Well, we found out that those divine hands are truly there and they have caught us safely and securely.
We have been working overtime to get our house onto the market. Its sale was an important element of moving toward the realization of Mission Senegal. Without a sale, we would be obligated to our mortgage payment ~ seriously ham-stringing us financially. So, it was imperative that this happen! The market in Woodstock is like everywhere else... hit and miss!! You simply never know what is going to happen when you put a house up for sale. There are, in our neighbourhood, a number of houses that have been up for sale for over a year. In other parts of the community the same thing was happening. We approached this sale with faith and fear mingled together!!
After much work, interrupted by times by important trips to take care of elements of our mission, we felt close enough to sale that we could bring in the real estate agent. On this past Friday (December 14) we finally had our agent come in to take pictures and get 29 Keenan Drive on the market. The agent came in the early afternoon and took pictures that showed the best our home had to offer!! All the cleaning, painting, building, trimming and other hard work was proudly on display! The sale went "live" online at about 4 that afternoon.
Saturday morning, we got a call that we needed to get ready for our first showing - at 4 PM! Needless to say we were quite stunned but excited at the prospect! There were a few things to do to make the house totally ready and with the help of some great friends (Mike & Beth Wittmeier) we "got 'er done". The agent came just before 4 and put up the for sale sign in front of the house. (Digging through the ice and snow to plant it firmly).
A few hours later there was a phone call and a few questions from those that saw the house were answered. This was Saturday, however, and Saturday evening means prayer. Faithfully, when we were in town, we were at the church sanctuary to pray from 7-8 weekly. Mike and I joined with others to seek the Lord for His blessings on CUPC and that in all of our lives, the will of God would be done. Inwardly there was a cry to the Lord for a miracle!!!
On my way home from prayer I started getting texts from my wife... "Where are you"... "We have to talk to the agent"... I did not answer them as we were almost home anyway. Walking in the door I was met by my wife with phone in hand talking to our agent. We walked back to my office and engaged in a conversation that was centred around an offer for our home. An offer only $1,000 less than our asking price.
I just found the hands of God, in that darkened abyss called faith!! We leaped, were falling quickly, and He caught us, just as I knew He would. Mission Senegal is indeed an amazing journey of faith but it is also an amazing journey in the perfect will of God!!
I had walked into the house straight into that phone conversation. Completing this convo I walked out to find the man who had been installing the ceiling in the basement. There were a few things that were needed to be done, requested by the buyers, so I showed him those things. As we chatted about how amazing it was to have already sold, our agent walked in with the papers to sign. All papers initialled and signed we stood back and glowed in the goodness of God. The glow had not even had a chance to dim and our agent let us know that they were going to support us financially in Mission Senegal!! Could anything get any better???
Thanks for praying!! January 31 we will be vacating what has been our home for the last 8 years. This will not be the easiest of steps, but we continue to walk in confidence in the Lord. With this miracle, we can move forward in confidence toward a February departure for French West Africa!! I have nothing less than a complete confidence that God will continue to show Himself strong, mighty and able to take care of His own!!
In Acts 18, there is a snapshot of Paul's stopover in Ephesus that is personally impacting to my pursuit of the will of God. While I would never make a direct comparison between myself and the Apostle Paul pertaining to his experiences, I find some common ground in this regard.
Paul's stopover in Ephesus is a part of his journey toward Jerusalem and ultimately his death ~ things that were clearly understood by Paul and communicated to him by various means. Just prior to his arrival in Ephesus he had a brief visit to Cenchrea where he had his hair cut off in obedience to a personal vow he had made. Arriving in Ephesus he is confronted with a group of people who wish that he would stay with them. Paul's reply is straightforward and simple. "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 NKJV)
This snippet is deeply impacting to me as I pursue the will of God via Mission Senegal. Over the past 8 years I have been profoundly blessed to have been able to pastor an amazing church. While there have been highs and lows, joys and sorrows, it has been an amazing journey that sadly has come to closure. It is a step that did not come easy and is a faith response to the will of God in reaching souls with the Gospel who otherwise would not be reached.
From Paul's encounter in Cenchrea and Ephesus there are a number of important things that reverberate in my spirit and that must be an active part of our pursuit of God's will and plan for our life.
Paul had a vow. Paul had made a commitment that was to be kept at all cost. If one is not absolutely committed to the will of God, other things will slow you down and even stop you from achieving it in your life. Keeping our vows toward God can make us outsiders to the masses, as Paul's haircut no doubt made him stand out in the crowd. Yet one thing was capital, and that was the will of God!
Paul knew when to say "no" to certain requests. While it is never easy to step away from the things that others may desire for you and your life, there is a precedence that the Will of God must assume in our life. It will force us at times to make unpopular decisions but will lead us deeper into and closer to the plan of God.
Lastly, Paul knew how to say “Good-bye”. Sadly the pursuit of the will of God will often cause us to leave one locale to take up residence in another. No one likes change. No one likes moving. No likes saying or even hearing good-byes. Yet they are an inevitable and demand of us the greatest grace possible. In those moments, our weakness is made strength as we discover, once again, that His grace is sufficient for us!
I preached at Calvary UPC this morning on an unusual topic, "The Grace of a Begat"! In essence, I was talking about the genealogies of Jesus, as found in Matthew's Gospel and Luke's Gospel. In the long lists of "begats", there are countless examples of the grace of God being displayed. From the inclusion of 4 "questionable" women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bath-Sheba) to the various patriarchs, kings and every day people that are included in the lineage of Jesus Christ - from Adam to His birth in a manger.
It is amazing that in spite of the incredibly troubled waters through which God had to navigate, He could do nothing less than bring His ultimate purpose to reality. Jesus was born, in spite of scoundrels and prostitutes, evil kings and wayward hearts (thus the "Grace" in the begat!). God wound the sacred bloodline of the Saviour through these incredibly difficult circumstances and obstacles to emerge in Bethlehem "in the fulness of time"!
This becomes a calm assurance to me, and hopefully to you!! No matter what life may throw at you, God's will is certain to be realized! No matter what the enemy of your soul may try to do to be a hindrance God cannot be stopped from making His plan come to fruition! There is no power in heaven or earth that is powerful enough to hinder that which God has prepared for you!! The only exception to this may be "you"! Only YOU could prevent the will of God from being fully manifested in your life!
Take courage and know that when God has a plan for you, a destiny for you, a will for you, He will literally move heaven and earth to make it come to pass. The steps of a good man or woman are truly ordered by the Lord. Pray for it, believe in it and live toward it, for it is being brought to pass in your life! The waters through which you may have to navigate His will may be rough and stormy, but the wind of His Spirit will direct you to that port of perfect peace called the "will of God"!
Only YOU could prevent the will of God from being fully manifested in your life!