“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
I remember my first trip to Haiti in October of 2014. It was my first time out of the country, and the excitement was building as we started our final decent into the Port-au-Prince airport. I was filled with so many mixed emotions. I had no idea what to expect because traveling wasn’t something I was use to. After landing safely, we went through immigration and got our bags. We walked out of the airport looking for a guy wearing a Mission of Hope shirt, while fighting off people babbling in Creole and grabbing at our bags looking to make a quick buck. There he was, standing at the end of a mob of people. When he recognized who we were, he shouted to Brittany, our group leader, and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. People stepped back, staring at us as we walked through. All went well, and he was an extremely nice young man whom I talked with at the airport on a regular basis when teams came in. We loaded up into a truck they call a canter, which resembles a box truck with wooden benches in the back, but instead of solid walls on the box part, it was mesh so that we could see out and breathe.
Driving down the road, I noticed a common sight from the time we left the airport to the time we entered the Mission of Hope compound. There were so many unfinished houses. These ranged from just a foundation all the way to people putting a fourth story on their house and everywhere in between. I asked why there were so many unfinished houses, and the common answer is that they do not have the money to finish. They will work, and when they get more money, they add some bricks, and this process will continue until the house is finally finished. This reminds me of how we are a work-in-progress. Some of us are simply laying the foundation of our faith and some are working on the fourth story of their faith. No matter where we are in our faith, we all have something in common: we are all under construction. Instead of money, our currency is life experiences, knowledge of the word of God, and intimacy with Jesus. As we grow in these three areas, we are able to build on our faith. But without them, we cannot add to our faith. All stages of our relationship with God are beautiful, but we must avoid complacency so that we will be able to build on the faith we have already established to make it more beautiful. The love you have for Jesus will only grow more and more if you continue to allow yourself to always be under construction.
Paul said it this way “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
(Philippians 3:12). Faith is not like a job; it does not have a salary cap. Our faith can be built like my house in Haiti, or it can be built like the Empire State Building, it’s up to us how much we want to work on it. Seek construction over comfort.
Availability not Ability
I love the story found in John 6:1-14. In this story, Jesus is healing and teaching what they describe as 5,000 men. He had been teaching them all day, and as it got close to evening, his disciples came to him and said that everyone was hungry. Jesus, testing his disciples, told them, “You feed them.” They go on to say that it would take a half year’s wages to give everyone just one bite of bread. Then in verse nine, we see something beautiful: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus took what this boy offered them and made it enough to feed 5,000 people.
There is this idea that we need to be perfect before we can be used by God. We feel like we need to have the schooling and have the answers to all of the hard questions before we can be used by him. I am not saying that schooling and knowledge are not good because they are, but they are not the ultimate thing that qualifies you to be an instrument of God. He is not looking for your abilities but your availability. God took what this young boy had, which was obviously not enough, and performed a miracle. I have heard it so many times that God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called. I am living proof of this. God will put into your life what you need in order to accomplish what he wants you to do. I felt God leading me to write a book, and because of that, he will put someone in my life who is skilled in this way to make it happen. You might be feeling like God is leading you to do something, but you don’t know how it will happen or you don’t feel ready. I urge you take the first step, and God will reveal the next one to you because he who called you is faithful. We are all works in progress, so we will never have it all figured out. But the beauty is, God doesn’t ask us to be perfect; he just asks us to bring what we have to him. Our job is to be obedient with what we have and trust God to do what only he can do.
Growing up, I was an odd kid. While most kids were watching Scooby Doo or The Jetsons, I was watching The Crocodile Hunter and shows like How It’s Made. I am fascinated by how everyday items are made and processed. It’s funny how some of the things we think are so simple require a long process to make. Of the many things I watched being made, I really enjoyed seeing how silver is purified. The act of refining and purifying silver is an amazing process to watch. It’s accomplished by putting silver ore (rocks with silver pieces in them) in a metal pot and putting it under extreme heat. This causes the material to melt. When it melts, the impurities will rise to the top. The silversmith will then scoop these out and repeat the process until the silver is completely purified. You can tell that the silver is purified is if you can see your reflection staring back at you.
As Christians, we go through our own refining process that the Bible calls “sanctification.” This is when we face trials that test our faith. These cause us to find out what we really believe, and oftentimes when we are in the fire, we learn more about Jesus. In these times our faith can grow because our fears, doubts, and worries are met by his faithfulness and provision. His word says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”(1 Corinthians 10:13). I don’t claim to know what you are going through right in this moment, but I can guarantee that God is with you in every trial. I believe with all of my heart that he is using the bad thing you are going through to prepare you for what he needs you to do. Remember these popular yet wise words; What God is doing in you is more important than what is happening to you.
From the Cave to the Crown
Over the past few weeks, I have been focusing on the book of 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel, you read a lot about David. Over the years, I have heard the magnificent stories of him slaying the giant, being the king, and being labeled as the man after God’s own heart. These are all amazing stories of Davids accomplishments, but it’s hard to connect with people if you only see the highlight reels. I have never killed a giant, nor have I been a king. In 1 Samuel, you see the struggles David faced that shaped him into the “man after God’s own heart.”
Seeing David’s struggles in the cave helped me understand that the trials we face are constantly shaping us into who God wants us to be. David learned to be dependent on God in the caves so that he would be dependent on him while wearing the crown. What he learned in his greatest darkness prepared him to be in the light of leadership. John 16:33 says,“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” David had many trials, a lot like you and me. We are promised troubles on earth, but we have the assurance that we can take heart because our Savior, Jesus Christ, has overcome the world. He left the power of sin and the sting of death at the door of that tomb. As a work-in progress, we are not supposed to know the why, but seek after the what. When you face trials, don’t ask God why it’s happening. Instead, ask him what he is trying to teach you. You might be a work-in-progress, but you are also more than a conqueror in Christ, so when you face hardship, do as Jesus says: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”