Monday, May 4, 2009

The Greatest Tool of All

"God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called."

I know this.
I've said it many times.
But today I understand it at a new level.

It's easy to get hung up on being "ready" for a task before us. We delay things like having kids, going back to college, or stepping out in some form of leadership because it's just not the right time yet. (I've often heard people respond, "if you wait for the perfect time, you'll never do it.")

The truth is that sometimes it really ISN'T the right time.

But sometimes it's just an excuse we hide behind. Its counterpart of "I'm not ready" is the same kind of hideout. We tell ourselves we need to be adequately prepared so we can do whatever it is well, and there's some truth to that too. There's nothing wrong with wanting to do something with excellence.

But behind these excuses of bad timing, lack of preparation, or lack of adequate equipment lies a fundamental flaw in our thinking:

Our success is NOT based on any of that.

David did not delay fighting Goliath until he could get some properly fitted armor and a sword he could maneuver. These would have been perfectly reasonable delays in all practicality. But as I read in a my devotion today "David was not bothered because he knew the battle was God's, not his. David knew the tools were secondary to proceeding with God's presence."

It's ok to desire to be prepared with the tools to do what God has called us to. I DO need to be trained in counseling, Biblical studies, and chaplain ministry, not to mention sufficient training in the military in general. There's a reason the Army requires all of that before they release me to be a chaplain. These are important tools. I'm not suggesting all training or tools are futile. What I think God has said to me today is that the MOST IMPORTANT tool is His presence, and I had that before He even called me to do this.

My confidence cannot be in the flesh (see Philippians 3) nor even in the most spiritual of tools. My confidence must be in Christ and Christ alone.
"David was not trusting in the tools, or in his strength in using the tools, to determine his success. He was trusting in God."
I'm not sure that I will ever feel adequately equipped for the chaplaincy ... IF my focus is on the tools. But I can confidently step forward without armor or a sword, with nothing but a sling shot and five little pebbles because those are not the source of victory. David didn't even have to have those! He knew all he needed was God.


Help me to learn all I can about Your Word and about all the things that would be considered "tools of the trade" as a chaplain. But forgive me for allowing my confidence to be dependent on any of that. Give me the faith and confidence of David that I would boldly step forward knowing all that matters is that I have You.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Playing Holy Catch-Up with God

We talk all the time about "waiting on God" but do you think God ever waits on us? I'll let that question roll around in your brain a bit. I guess what I am asking is does God fire the starter pistol whether we are ready to go or not?

I used to hate it growing up when someone would suggest we "race" to a particular destination, then yell "go!" before I was ready. It was mean and a sneaky way to get the upper hand. None of those are words I would use to describe God. But I had never really thought about Him "waiting" on me.

Until now.

It was about 2 years ago when I got "the call" from the Army about the chaplaincy, and shortly thereafter when God confirmed that "call" was from Him. And as hard as this is to admit, it's been a call I have not been warming up to very well. I wanted to say "wrong number" and hang up the phone. I felt like Isaiah when he said, "Woe to me. I'm ruined," except I meant it not because I'd experienced the holiness of God, but the holy call of God and never before had I felt more unholy. He made it clear it was coming from Him, which made me accept the call, but it didn't make me like it. (I'm just being honest.) So for two years now, I've struggled to truly embrace this whole thing. Moving forward, but reluctantly. Being obedient, but not joyfully.

Thankfully God is patient. Over and over, in many different ways, He has been speaking to my heart, to my fears, to my hesitance. He's not judged me or belittled me for not having more faith. He's met me where I've been and just spoken words of Truth: He's reminded me of all I've seen Him do in my life in the past. He's encouraged me with images of miracles He's allowed me to be a part of. And He's continued to invite me to join Him again.

Something finally clicked.

Like David before Goliath, now I'm looking at the giant WANTING to be a part of the battle for his defeat. I'm disregarding my own puny stature because I'm overwhelmingly confident of the ENORMOUS size of my God.
  • No longer am I looking at this call with fear and dread but rather with faith and anticipation.
  • No longer am I fixated on the effects of this call on me, but the impact it can have on others.
  • No longer do I hear myself saying things like, "I am still in training so I don't have to deploy with my unit" and instead saying, "I am still in training so I don't get to deploy with my unit."
  • No longer is this solely God's desire for me but my desire as I follow Him.
He waited on me. He let me dance around and stretch and twist and warm up saying, "Hang on, I'm not ready yet." And He lovingly continued to coach me. But now, my feet are on the starting block and I'm ready to go. He let me catch up before He took off.

He waited on me.

Now as I run this race with Him at my side every step, I can do so joyfully not with frustration of having been cheated or bitterness for running when I didn't really want to. He helped me "throw off everything that hinders" so I am now free to "run with perseverance the race marked out for [me]" (Hebrews 12:1). He ... waited ... on ... me.

One closing note, however. I don't believe God will stall His plan for the world because of our disobedience. I think we have to be actively trying to get ready and seeking His help for that too. We can't just sit down on the couch and say, "Nope, not ready. Check back later" then continue munching on Doritos with no intention of moving. But it is our loss if we let Him move on without us. Imagine David without the story of Goliath? Why would we not want to be a part of God doing the impossible??

So, how about it? Feel like racing home?