Today is my 51st birthday! Maybe it’s that I’ve surpassed the half century mark…I’m not sure…but this birthday is different. I slept for 12 hours last night and woke refreshed this morning. I made my way to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and settled down on the comfy couch next to Freckles, the orange tabby cat. It’s a Wonderful Life was on TV and I decided to watch. I had no idea, after seeing it at least a hundred times before, that it would be as though I was watching it for the first time.
You all know the movie…the scene where George is distraught and he’s sitting in a bar, trying to drink his troubles away. He begins to pray to God for help. In the next moment George is punched in the face by someone sitting next to him and he mutters something like “remind me not to ask God for help next time”. But in that exact moment, God did step in and initiated what would be a series of discoveries for George about his own life and its purpose and impact on those around him. George learns that he has never been alone. There is no doubt that in the last 50 years there have been many, many times when I was certain the Lord had given up on me and did not care about my life struggles. In difficult circumstances that called for faith…I often failed. Like George, I simply could not see evidence of the Divine’s activity in my life.
Unlike George, it took more than one night of discoveries for me to see God’s hand in my life…it took about 30 years of discoveries (sometimes the same ones again and again) to begin to learn that my life is not my own and that if I surrender it up…He can use it for His sake and the sake of the coming Kingdom in ways I would have never imagined. Nothing in my life has turned out the way I thought it would or I wanted it to. I’ve had dreams that have died slow and painful deaths…for whatever reasons. But all the while, the Lord has been there, sometimes in very obvious ways and often times in NOT so obvious ways.
Today, on my 51st birthday, for the first time I find myself not thinking about the year that has just passed, even though it was a doozie! I know that I am right in the middle of God’s will for my life and it’s an amazing thing. It’s not easy…requires lots of faith and trust and does not guarantee anything about tomorrow. I realize that we all share this about our faith walk with Christ and most of you can share similar stories. For me on this particular day of celebration of life…I wonder how many more birthdays I have left…not because I need or want more time for my dreams to come true…but because I’ve never been this sure of being in the right place, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and I want to be able to do that for as long as possible. I’m living the DREAM! I could have never predicted this, and it certainly doesn’t look like what I thought it would look like…and just like with George, this discovery has changed everything!
But here’s the kicker…living the dream requires the participation of others who also live with their eyes fixed on the Kingdom of God. It’s not up to me…it’s out of my control. This is the hard part. But this is how the Lord designed the Kingdom to work on earth. He uses us, calls us to partner with Him to do His work and to release His resources for His plans and purposes. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak and where I am tempted to worry. But I have placed my faith in the Lord and His ability to provide. Like George Bailey at the end of the movie…seeing all his friends and neighbors coming to show their support…I know the Lord will provide for me in the same way.
The Lord’s plan for my ministry in Northern Uganda in 2015 includes lecturing in the Archbishop Janani Luwum Theological College to help train up indigenous pastors for the church, assisting the Bishop with the many partnerships of the Diocese, taking the Jesus Film to the most remote parts of the Diocese and delivering Bibles in the Acholi language to those who are without God’s Word. These are His plans, not mine. I’ve just said yes.
I am so thankful for all who read this blog and who pray for me. I invite you now to prayerfully consider whether the Lord is asking you to release resources for His plans through me in Northern Uganda. This is the only way I can return to Uganda in January and continue His work. It takes a family of brothers and sisters in Christ!
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In the words of Clarence the angel… “no (wo)man is a failure who has friends.” I am blessed with tremendous friends in Christ and I pray that this Christmas we all know more deeply the love of Christ as we ponder the miracle of God coming in the flesh. And I rejoice that we can know Him and receive the gift of redemption He has given us all.