Branching Out

03/09/2010

Did you ever hear a sermon and think, “Well, that’s nice!” but somewhere things get lost between philosophy and reality? That’s why it’s always good to look for real-world examples to begin the process of attaining the proper perspective. It’s no accident that Christ used parables so often—his audience could visualize a tiny mustard seed growing into a large plant or a frightened servant burying his master’s money rather than using his gifts to multiply it.

Sometimes even a pastor gets lucky and sees a sermon come to life! Yesterday I preached on our need to rely fully upon God the way Christ describes the vine/branch relationship in John 15:5 (I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.) Then this morning one of our newly-adopted refugees needed to be taken to her ESL class (English as a Second Language). We had met a few times before, so she followed me to my car, rode to the huge administrative building after getting a quick lesson on seat-belt usage, and followed respectfully behind me to our eventual spot in the classroom. (I was not at all comfortable walking with her following behind me but that’s how her culture shows respect so I refrained from inviting her to walk alongside).

We walked down several hallways, made some U-turns and were even moved once. As we started the paperwork, she looked at a copy of her name in English and copied it onto a form. I thought about what it must be like to not even be able to write your own name in a way someone could understand. I thought about her trust in me that I was taking her where she needed to go and that I would return her safely to the apartment. Last week we helped her get food stamps so that she could eat something besides what our church put in front of her.

What if we relied on God like that? We are, after all, refugees in this land—strangers in a place that is not our real home, shuffling about in bodies that are Etch-a-Sketch renderings of what we will look like someday and thinking the whole time about how best to control our surroundings. How much better would it be to live like this refugee and trust Jesus to take care of us? It’s difficult…but possible. We must listen for the shepherd’s voice or we will certainly lead ourselves astray. Then we must trust that voice because it will lead us to a better place.

Jesus said in John 5:30, “By myself I can do nothing.” Yet we think we can handle all of our own business even though Jesus himself could not! The control we think we have is an illusion. Christ told Pilate “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11) Tonight the sun will set and tomorrow it will rise, regardless of your feelings about the matter.

Don’t waste your time constructing glorious sandcastles while the tide is coming in. Rely on God and trust the voice of the Shepherd. If you want “perfect peace,” then follow him like the refugee that you are!

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

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There are 3 comments

I love stories that help me remember truths. Thank, Kent, for the real-life story of our refugee family.

Deb
March 11, 2010 - 16:27

Shawn,

Thanks. No need to apologize--if there is in fact any wisdom contained therein, it's from God and therefore timeless so it's fine! We appreciate all your hard work on the site!

Pastor Kent
March 10, 2010 - 11:38
Reply to Pastor Kent

Dear Pastor Kent,

I appreciate your grace and mercy. Thanks for that. But especially for a devotional like this that references the sermon from the day before I thought the explanation and the apology were necessary. Your other devotional should be up by the end of the week.

Two in one week Fantastic!

Shawn
March 10, 2010 - 16:38
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