Honed By God

I recently received a very encouraging and faith-building note from a friend who is part of the Navigators ministry in Arizona. I asked him if I could share it with you. He said yes, so here it is:

Hey guys, this week’s Short-n-Sweet ended up a hair longer than normal.  A bit more of a devotional.  Thanks for reading and praying!
Last night Susan and I grinned at one another as the screen went black.  Be assured, they weren’t happy grins, more grins of disbelief.  You see, the black screen on our laptop refusing to turn on after trying everything under the sun was all too familiar.  Literally, every year but three of the last ten years, this exact same week (when back to school staff meetings are getting ready to start) either our laptop or desktop have crashed, gotten a debilitating virus or just plain died.  At this time of year, our computers are invaluable.  We both have developed enough “muscle memory” by this point that in a weird way it almost gave a sense of peace and relief.  WHAT?  I’m serious.  And the fact that this time every year either I, Susan or the kids seem to get a sinus infection, shoulder surgery, or like this year- wrench my back so I’m hobbling around, in a strange but very real way assures me we are being honed in, just on time.  Students calling or e-mailing me in the last few days confessing that they’ve had terrible summers spiritually.  Me waking up in the middle of the night feeling all kinds of accusations.  Talking and praying on the phone daily with 2/3’s of my new staff because they are not even half way funded with only a week to go.  Becoming increasingly aware of the shear magnitude of all that needs to get done in the next week and my inability to accomplish it all- All of this serves to remind me of a few key things:
1.  God is on His throne, working all things according to HIS plan
2.  The Lord’s way for those who will produce lasting fruit for Him is one of brokenness, weakness, dependence, desperation, ineptitude and fear, among other seemingly untimely emotions.
As a young believer, I used to play the “Spiritual Warfare!” card in my assessment of chaotic circumstances.  Don’t get me wrong, I am fully convinced, and reminded at times like now that there is a war going on in the Heavenly realms for the souls of men and women that I can’t even begin to fathom.  I am convinced that Satan is working to steal, kill and destroy at every turn.  I have no doubt that he is committed to sabotaging our ministry and will do everything in his limited power to do so over the next 9 months as we labor to see thousands of students encounter Jesus.  There is a war being waged, but I find an unspeakable comfort in the fact that the Lord has already won this war and that my role is to simply let Him be God.  Ironically, when I used to play the “Spiritual Warfare!” card, I would end up more fearful, more frazzled, more paralyzed, more ready to throw in the towel, and more focused on Satan and his wiles.  Which is falling in to the very thing Satan wants, me to take my eyes off of Jesus and focus on him.  I praise God for a wise wife whose first reaction to these chaotic circumstances was to say “Let’s really make a point of thanking and praising God this week, we must fix our eyes on Him.”
Having been in full time ministry for 16 years now, I realize that the chaos we are experiencing right now is the norm every fall.  But a few verses from 2 Corinthians change everything.  1:8  “…we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us.  On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.”
and  4:7-11 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
So, the Lord is honing us in, right on time, preparing us to be used by Him, and to rely not on our diligent planning, great ministry ideas, number of student leaders-  but to rely on Him.  After all, it’s His ministry.  He is the one responsible for reaching students.  He is the one who chooses to use weak and unworthy jars of clay.  Will you help us with your prayers?  Pray that we will rely not on ourselves, but on God, and that He will work on our behalf as we labor for Him?
Thanks for praying!  I’ll have more prayer details in a week or so.
Bryce
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