Support, fear and hope

It’s been three weeks since my last blog entry. It’s one of the longest breaks in the history of this blog. Much has happened, but it’s not the usual human excuse of being too busy that has kept me from writing here. It’s not that I haven’t had many thoughts about life, God, and lots of other stuff. But the truth is that I’ve been in deep places of fear these last few weeks.

My wife and I have been living as missionaries dependent on financial support from friends, churches and family members for the past five years, and yet I have never had to ask somebody face to face to support the ministry God is doing through us financially. I have to do that now. It’s that time for us. For me. There is no way around it. I have been tempted to just do a Jonah and run away from God’s calling on my life. It would be much easier for me to pack my wife and myself and just move to Denmark, get a regular job, a normal paycheck and not have to ever ask anybody for anything again. My flesh wanted me to do that: “Life in missions is too hard. You won’t get the support you need. God will abandon you“, it has been whispering.

I’ve felt powerless against those lies. They are hard to battle in my own strength. Let me rephrase that: they are impossible to battle in my own strength. And I’m only where I am in life, because I’ve learned much about letting Christ fight the battle for me. I can’t win it. If I don’t hear Jesus’ voice of truth in the heat of the fight, I end up surrendering to the loud and persistent noise of my flesh. But I did hear him. He hasn’t taken away the reality of support raising from me. I still have to write the letters, make the phone calls and have the conversations. He hasn’t rescued me from the lifestyle he has called us to live.

But he has renewed the promises that he has been talking to me about this year. I’ve had this one particular song running through my head countless times in 2009. When I’ve sinned. When I’ve failed myself, other people, and God. When I’ve had victories. When I’ve felt abandoned. When I’ve felt lonely. When I’ve felt angry. When I’ve felt deep joy. When I’ve cried. When I’ve laughed my head off. When I’ve been depressed. When I’ve been ecstatic. The same song. It’s a simple, little Danish song that goes like this:

Du omslutter mig på alle sider, og du holder mig i din hånd

“You surround me on all sides, and you keep me in your hand” would be a word for word English translation. I’ve needed to hear that over and over again. Especially these last few weeks. He surrounds me. He is with me. David explained God’s omnipresence in this way:

Where can I go from your Spirit? When can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me”, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:7-12)

I picked up a John Eldredge-book, “Walking With God“, the other day and he pointed out some word that also spoke to me from John 10 where Jesus talks about himself as the Good Shepherd.

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice

(John 10:3b-4)

It was the little phrase ‘he goes on ahead of them‘ that was meaningful to me. Jesus goes ahead of me. I have someone to follow. All I do is follow in the steps he has made for me. I can trust that I will walk into the good deeds he has already prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10) that will bring life to me and form me more into who I am in Christ (Romans 8:28-29). He goes ahead of me, and I follow right behind him. I am not alone. I am not alone even when I feel alone. I am not alone even when my fears, self-pity, anger, hurts, wounds, lies and other ugliness is having a heyday.

And, to get very practical, I’m not alone when I’m asking people to support us. Jesus has already chosen some people whom he wants to be our new supporters. He has already gone ahead of these specific people, and they will follow him, and give to the ministry Christ is doing through us, because they know Jesus’ voice and long to follow his will for their lives (Ezekiel 36:26-27). He goes ahead of them, and he goes ahead of Jeannette and me, and the journeys of some people and our own will intersect and this will bring glory to Christ, because it’s not us who made it happen. We were just following him.

Blessings, Torben

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