The following is a sermon written by my father,, who has agreed to allow to me share it. It is offered as part of his, and my family’s healing process, as they emigrate to New Zealand this week. Brave and wise words.
Everyone is called to mission but the calling takes different forms. Many Christians over the years have stressed over this question! What does God want me to do and how will he tell me. We think it was easy for Moses because everyone knows the story of the burning bush that spoke. Pretty clear, no doubt!
My family is in a transition brought about by violent acts of evil men. We decided to make a move to a new country as during the last 18 months we have suffered 5 break-ins on our property. As a family we sat down and debated, prayed and then decided to make a bold move. To immigrate to New Zealand with Kristy Otto and Jesse.
However my son in Cape Town asked me, “Dad, were you called to go to New Zealand?” to which I replied, “no, we were pushed!” We must understand that we are filled with Holy Spirit who guides our thoughts and actions and so I realised that in being a good steward of my families’ safety, I would be in His will. But what did scripture have to say about this?
But God intervened, when I tried to print my sermon the black ink was dry! Living 1 min from the mall I rushed in handed my cartridge for a refill and took a walk. Almost immediately I bumped into a colleague from 20 yrs ago. He asked how things were going and offered me a scripture which was so perfect and a God-incidence!
Psalm 37: 5 Commit thy ways to the Lord…….
I did say “Lord if you want to stop me along the way, block me and I will understand! Then sitting back and contemplating this scenario, I wondered if this had happened to anyone else in the bible! Had anyone else had their life mission altered by a negative or violent act? I had a lot to lose, My God given Eden Kids Foundation, my 30 years collection of some 400 bonsai trees, my beautiful indigenous garden and trees that I planted nurtured over the years and my friends and family!
And then the names just started popping up in my head:
Joseph, thrown into a pit by his brothers, and through that violent act, eventually rose to prominence to save his country and Egypt from drought.
Daniel, thrown into the lion’s den in a violent act, but brought glory to God through this horrible incident and rose to top spot in Babylon.
There are many more but now let’s look at Moses. In our reading we see that Moses himself created the violent deed. And then he had to escape or exit or make a drastic change of plan. I personally do not think that God told Joseph’s brothers to throw him into the pit, or that God told the evil colleagues of Daniel to throw him into the lion’s den, or that He told Moses to Kill the Egyptian guard, or that he sent evil men to break into my house! They were all bad choices by evil men!
Remember God has given us the freedom of choice and sometimes we may make bad choices. There’s actually a song on the radio currently by Pharrel Williams that goes “Freedom, first name free, last name dumb!”
But here’s the kicker, God can even use bad decisions, negative situations or even violent incidents in our lives for the good. After 3 months into this transition (there’s a lot of paper work to be done when immigrating to another country) I again sat down and contemplated what was happening and realised that there is a mission within the transition! Many people have been asking me, what are you going to do in New Zealand? My answer, I don’t know, but God does!
But more importantly, what is He doing now in the transition? That’s where the mission within a transition comes in! I have, during this period, had the privilege of ministering to 4 people who are also going through life changing transitions.
To help me, God, through my son Jared, placed a book in my hands that I lent to each one in turn! The book is called “ a Million miles in a thousand years” and is written by Donald Miller, a recovering Christian couch potato! It takes the reader on his journey from couch potato to a climbing and rambling rose!
He explains how an “inciting incident” can be brought into your life, how it changes everything and how you, with God’s help can still have a meaningful life story or even make your life story a much better one! I have been “pushed” into the great opportunity of placing Eden Kids into the hands of a young man who I have been mentoring for 5 years. This has been a ministry in the transition for him and me. He is totally devoted to uplifting the lives of disadvantaged children. I was planning to do this only in 3 year’s time but God’s timing is different to ours!
He understands the culture much better than me and can speak isiZulu a hundred times better than me. Let’s pay tribute to Nhlakanipho Stanley Gazu! An a big thank you to St John’s United who have been most kind to us, to our other churches supporting us and all of you, the friends of Eden Kids!
My faith and my wife’s faith was stretched to almost breaking point waiting for the sale of our property to be finalised, but the hand of God has been there and our faith has actually grown. In the first meeting with the agent while discussing our property which would be difficult to sell as we have flatlets also, I said in faith to the agent, God will send the buyer, you just do your job.
God also sent us a nursery owner who bought three quarters of our bonsai collection leaving me with the simple task of moving the last few just before water restrictions kicked in. Another God- incident of impeccable timing!
If Moses had not had the “inciting incident” with the guard, he would not have had the burning bush encounter, or the desert experience, which was his training for his 40 year hike with the Israelites! His mission within a transition!
Now I’m not saying that we should do the same as Moses but I am saying that God can work with a bad or a good decision and turn it into something noble, worthwhile and positive.
So to summarise, are we Called or pushed?
Firstly, you may be blessed to have a burning bush experience but most of the time there are more down to earth incidents that God can still use with your co-operation for the better of your life and His Kingdom.
2nd, there is a “mission in the transition”, focus not on “why” is this happening to me but “how” can you and God can use the difficult situation together in a positive way!
And thirdly, don’t stress about what God’s plan is for you, He will unfold it but at the moment you are a missionary where you are, be the best living Christian example and only when necessary, use words!