A prayer for faith: reflections before I head to the Middle East
For Christmas, my Aunt Karyn gave me a little devotional book called Daily Light. Each morning and evening there is a short assortment of Scripture taken from various parts of the Bible, assembled so that it reads as one smooth portion. One evening reading, back in January, hit me particularly hard:
We have turned, every one, to his own way.
Noah . . . planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk. // Abram said to Sarai his wife, . . . 'Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me.' // Isaac said to Jacob, 'Are you really my son Esau?' And Jacob said, 'I am.' // Moses . . . spoke rashly. // The men of Israel . . . did not ask counsel of the Lord. Joshua . . . made a covenant with them. // David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and he had not turned aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
All these . . . obtained a good testimony by faith. // All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. // The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
'Not for your sake do I do this,' says the Lord God, 'Let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways.'
This coming week, I will fly to Amman, Jordan to begin the next three months of my life. A lot of people have asked how they can be praying for me, specifically. The truth is, I really don’t know what to anticipate in terms of homesickness and struggles, or even exactly what life and relationships in Amman will look like, and so it’s difficult for me to know how to answer.
However, I have realized that ultimately, wherever I am and regardless of my circumstances, I am most consistently positioned in the dangerous path of turning aside to my own way.
I read through Genesis and Exodus in January, and was horrified (not for the first time) by the way that these men and women—who walked and talked with God!—second-guessed the goodness of the Lord and so quickly gave in to the lusts of their flesh. But then I look at myself, who I was a few years or months ago, and who I am today, and while I see the ways that the Lord has worked in my heart and life, still I grieve—even more deeply now than a few months or years ago—over my own sin. I am ashamed and confounded for my ways. Not nearly ashamed and confounded enough, I know.
And yet, I look to the Lord and I remember that I am striving to obtain a good testimony by faith. My iniquity has been laid upon Jesus. Faith in Jesus, precious Jesus by whom I have been justified freely, will keep me from turning to the inclinations of my flesh, and will spur me on to obedience and good works for the sake of His glory.
Pray that I would, as Spurgeon put it so well, 'Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement.'
So, for those of you who will pray with and for me throughout these months (I thank God for you!) this is my prayer—even while I’m home, but especially as I’m reveling in the novelty of flying thousands of miles away from all that is familiar to experience new people and places—that I would, as Charles Spurgeon put it so well, “Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement”.