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weary warrior

A Living Sacrifice

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Alan asked if there were any more mission stories like "It's Not So Bad". I have this excerpt from my journal while in Papua New Guinea several years ago as a painfully young ex-cowboy called into the ministry.

 

A “Living” Sacrifice

    I came to a place of soul-searching in Papua New Guinea several years ago, and found myself at a point in my ministry where I desperately needed to come to some place of understanding regarding my duties as a servant of God, as opposed to my own personal view of my weak, limited abilities and obligations. With plenty of time on my hands during a rainy monsoon season, I became more reflective on my future work in Papua New Guinea in general, and my walk with God specifically.

    I could not say that I was pleased or satisfied with the current state of either one. Oh, I had no doubt at the time that I was in the center of God’s will. He called me to his service, told me exactly where to go to do this service, and made the way possible for it all to happen. Except, my thought ever since I had arrived had been “now what?”

    I had spent the previous six weeks telling God that I just can’t do this. I’m more than willing, I’m eager even. I just don’t even know where to begin starting a “Bible School”. I didn’t graduate from one myself, how can I start another? The textbook answer, of course, is that I don’t start one, God does. So I had been earnestly reminding God of His responsibilities, and asking Him to endow me with some sort of osmosis experience, so  that we could get on with this thing. Kind of like Solomon’s instant wisdom, I guess. I had been saying, “God, I am pretty near useless, so you will have to do this thing, and I will be a willing tool, if you will pick me up and use me”.

    Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Wrong. Aristotle said “all things in moderation”. This means that any thought, idea, or philosophy has to have a balance, and I had been just a little out of balance.

    I am a tool to be used of God, this is true. But I am not a hammer, or shovel, I am a living tool. I am not the plow turning the earth for the farmer, I am the draft horse pulling the plow. I am owned by the farmer, this is true. I am also willing, of my own free will, to plow the field for the farmer, any field He chooses, any time he chooses. But when my master picks a field, and indicates to me that he wishes for me to work that field, and He hooks me to the plow, He does not then pick me up and carry me down the field, dragging the plow. Of course not. I am expected to start walking at his signal, and if he wishes for me to stop, or change directions, he will let me know.

    The Apostle Paul did not say in Phil 4:13 that  “...God can do all things, using me as a mindless, soulless tool.” No, he said “ I can do all things, through Christ, which strenghteneth me.” As a man, one thing I despise above almost all else is someone else who will not accept responsibility for his own actions or condition. I am afraid that too many Christians, including myself, have been guilty of the same crime in the spiritual realm. Not accepting, or maybe just not understanding, our own responsibility.

    I had eagerly grasped the concept of a sacrifice in Romans 12:1, but I had left out the “living” part. If I could become dead enough, it wouldn’t be my fault if things went wrong. You don’t blame the shovel for cutting the phone line, you blame the shovel operator. However, the only thing the Bible commands us to be dead to are the world, self and sin, and usually these are all synonymous.

    The draft animal that is not an unquestioning subjection to his master is not very useful. I have worked with mules and horses of this type many times, and I would just as soon grind them up and feed ‘em to a good set of hunting dogs. But a mule who is perfectly willing to obey man, but is afraid to move out of his tracks because he doesn’t understand the science of cultivation, is no more useful than the rebel is. I will not teach a pack mule the practical usage for every item I have packed on his back, nor will I draw him a map of where we are going to go. If he is a good, willing mule, and understands simply that I want him to carry something, I will load him with what I wish him to carry, and I will start off down the trail. He will follow, willingly doing his own work, as he knows it, according to my will. If I think he needs to know more, I will decide this and teach him more later. But he does have to walk. I’ll not carry him. He has no worries about my wanting him to do anything different than what he is now doing. His faith is in believing that I will direct him to do something different if I wish for him to do so. Until then he will do what I ask.

    I had been worrying too much about the future, figuring that once I learned the language, I could still do nothing until God miraculously changed me some how, giving me more knowledge, more leadership ability, more organizational and administrative skills by some sort of divine intervention. The master had been clucking at me to move all along, and I had been eyeing the field, trying to figure out the science of it all. I just need to step out, and my Master, who owns the field, can direct the moving. You can’t direct a lack of motion.

 

Alan, I hope this answers...

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