Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keep On Keepin' On

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
When I first started this, I was watching and listening to Bonnie Raitt on the April 23rd, 2016 edition of a CBS This Morning Saturday.  There was both performance and interview.  There's a lot about her life and attitude that resonates with me. We've both allowed substance abuse to detour us and we've both come back from that.  But there was an answer to one question that led to today's post.  Anthony Mason asked her how long she would keep performing -- Bonnie's 66.  

Bonnie Raitt's reply was that she hoped she'd be be doing this till she was 85 or 90, good health allowing.  She pointed to BB King and Tony Bennett as examples.  And she reminded us of Sir Paul McCartney asking if, instead of continuing to be active in music, he should just retire and go play golf.  I think we all agree that our ears are much better off because all of them kept doing what they're doing.  

In the interview, Bonnie suggested her reaction to normal retirement would be "This is it?  Dinner and a movie, this is it?".  And that's what pointed me in the direction of today's thoughts.  Indeed, Anthony Mason, who did the interview, is no Spring chicken.  He was coming up on 60, this June. And, at almost 73, with some physical shortcomings, I've referred to myself as "the least likely missionary".  And all of us display a spiritual reality.

Romans 11:29 (AMP)  For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]

We can have a particular call for a season.  Or we may be given what appears to be a call to stir us up for something bigger.  But God never rescinds our real, full-time call, once He's given it to us. And that call may only be recognizable to God and ourselves.  Or it may be evident to many.  If you're a blues fan, it's easy to imagine that God intended BB King and "Lucille" (his guitar) to always be together.

Unlike BB, we can get the perception of our call wrong, too.  I don't often write about personal experiences and how they relate to my spiritual life for several reasons.
  1. That call may be personal, not for public display.
  2. We may not recognize all of it.  It may be something God unfolds for us in stages, for a variety of reasons.
  3. We still contend with the flesh, which gets in the way of our perception.  Our understanding of our call could be, to some degree (or completely), incorrect.
Anyway, as some of you already know, I recently had a major flare up of my COPD.  One that I'm still dealing with.  The timing and the intensity seem very much like an attack, aimed at hindering my call to join our missionary team in Costa Rica.,  Our ministry just finished our International Convention, one I missed almost completely for the first time in decades.  A secondary attack.  And we could leave the thinking on all that right there.  Or can we?

We can spout an ongoing series of verses pointing to the reality that God is all knowing, is in control, is love, and always gives us what's best.  But how much do we believe that?  If we look at the Psalms, we see David jumping between knowing God had his back, to those "What the heck?" moments we all experience, to "Please get me out of this, God!".  Moments of remorse, moments of thankfulness, etc.

Yup, one of the greatest leaders in the Bible, part of Jesus' lineage, was as much of a mess as we are.  Me in particular.  But, while my almost 40 year walk with God has been all over the place, at times, God has been faithful to nudge me toward real training in His Word, from real spiritual leaders.  So, even though my spiritual growth has often seemed like baby steps, each one was etched in stone, giving me solid footing.

So, when we arrive at our COPD bout, we find me complaining to God.  Just like David.  I'm disappointed in the possibility that the physical situation may interfere. with Costa Rica, sad to miss being taught at Convention, and missing the fellowship and food.  But, in a very short period of time, God has cemented relationships in San Jose that are eternal.  Many of the 49 Convention messages will eventually be available online.  And, hopefully, there's next year's Convention for fellowship.  If not, there's eternity.  And there's more.

I can hear from God about my call, about our relationship, about lots of things.  And I can charge forward, following that plan, but somehow missing God's timing, with more of me than Him at the helm.  Who's with me on that?  So, God needed to get my attention, for the five millionth time.  And that began a growing six week experience with God, particularly in the week of Convention.  We had moments of personal conversation together, often without words.  And I began to get a glimmer of understanding how Richard Wurmbrand could cherish his prison time, because of what it did for his relationship with God.

I had moments that never would have been possible with the noise and distractions (as good as those might be) of convention.  And, no, what I got had nothing to do with anything about me.  It was all about who God is.  He does want the best for me, He does love me personally.  And He does want to guide me into the greatest experience of that.  He wants that for you, too.  Yes, sometimes, the circumstances may not always be to our liking, but we can be sure they're well planned by God for our benefit.  And we can think with the Psalmist in his best moments.

Psalm 9:9-10  The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble.  And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 13:5-6  But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

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