In September 1999 we had just returned to Ukraine after a furlough to a church that was under attack by forces outside and some who had sneaked in to wreak havoc. God had blessed us with purchasing our first home in Lviv, but I quickly found out that my visa status was in serious question, thus another summons to RA right after I arrived.
My blood ran cold with fear. This was not the fear of death but the fear of failure and getting kicked out of the country. I would also lose our new home. I started praying and confessing the word from Joshua 1 where God had promised to give me every place I set my foot and to not be afraid. I went to my favorite prayer place, a beautiful hill called High Castle that overlooked the whole city, but on this day altitude did not equal closeness with God.
God’s Word simply would not stick to my soul, so I went home in frustration to ask God a very different question. It went something like this: “Ok God, forget about this new house, my vision, getting kicked out! I just want to know one thing, and I am really sick of it. Why am I afraid?” Well, He answered me more clearly than I had ever experienced.
“You do not believe I will care for you and that I am for you no matter what the outcome of this trial.” This was unconditional love, and I was thunderstruck. I had been serving a different taskmaster, myself, until that day. The fear now vanished, my mind cleared and truths that had been read many times over exploded into my soul. This was God’s ultimate goal for me, not to do but to know. True fruitfulness is a fruit of knowing - knowing truth.
In 1st John 2:12-14 John writes to three groups of people who have various levels of maturity. He affirms them for what they have learned based on how long they have been walking with Jesus:
Little Children: You know the Father & your sins have been forgiven
Young men: The word of God abides strongly in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Fathers: You know Him who was from the very beginning.
It is ok to be a child – when you are young. Unfortunately, many Christians never get past simple salvation truths. Their faith is only for themselves and getting to heaven. Young ministers also fall into a trap. They go into service while not knowing their God or His Word. They get beat up severely. Another mistake that they make is that they think ministry is the goal or the pinnacle of spirituality. It is not.
The fathers understand most of all because they have come full circle. God was using their ministry to others to teach them about Himself. They have come to know God in His fullness not simply through study but by experiencing God’s faithfulness in countless battles and adverse circumstances. I am so grateful to God for my trials as a missionary because without them I would have never begun to learn the fullness of who God is on my behalf. I am still learning.
Our friend, Asaph, in Ps 73 has also come full circle:
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Ps 73:25-26
- What are the lies that prevent God’s truth from sticking to your life?
- What are the hurdles that you can never get over?
- Are you asking God the right question?