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Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

One Shovelful at a Time

     The first week of February was off to an amazing start. After months of frustration, here was a week with more than one appointment a day planned! The best record yet in our attempt to raise support.
     We had been praying for a breakthrough, wishing to charge ahead in our attempt to get to France by the end of the year, and here it was.
     Then came the storm of the century.
     Night after night was cancelled. By Friday I was wallowing in self pity and practically shouting at God in my prayers, pouring out my frustration at Him, asking for some indication that He was still involved in the process. Uncertainty is an enemy of the soul and I was nearly beaten senseless by it.
     Saturday morning, I awoke at 4:30, which in and of itself, isn't at all unusual. What made that morning odd was the undeniable prompting to go shovel the rest of the driveway. The missionary residence where First Baptist Church of Raytown is allowing us to live has a really big driveway. We had kept it shoveled through the winter but after this last foot of snow I still had half the driveway to go and there was a couple of feet of snow on that side staring back at me as I walked out at 5:00 a.m.
     As I started shoveling I continued to get the feeling that I wasn't out there by accident. Becky, our appointee coach with World Team, had listened patiently the morning before as I fretted and complained about our apparent lack of progress and my growing impatience with the whole process. A little while later she sent me Psalm 77 in an email. 

               4 You hold my eyelids open; 
               I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
               5 I consider the days of old, 
               the years long ago.
               6 I said,  “Let me remember my song in the night;
               let me meditate in my heart.”
               Then my spirit made a diligent search:
               7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,
               and never again be favorable?
               8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
               Are his promises at an end for all time?
               9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
               Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
               10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
               to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 
               11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
               yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
               12 I will ponder all your work,
               and meditate on your mighty deeds.

     What was at stake out there in the cold was my faith. Was I going to let my present circumstances and all those cancelled appointments dredge up the criticisms of old detractors, and stir up fears of potential embarrassment—letting them get the better of me—or worse yet, drive a wedge between me and the God I claimed to love and follow unreservedly?
     'Aint gonna happen!
     What ran through my mind with each shovelful of snow was the thought, "How else are we going to get six cars in this driveway?" At that point I didn't know if anyone would be able to come to the French Soirée we had planned for later that evening.
     I had simply come to a crossroads. There was no deal making going on. I wasn't shoveling out of spite, daring God to keep His end of the bargain and fill my driveway with potential supporters eager for a slice of fresh baked apple tart. I just knew I had to go out and clear the driveway. I began to pray for those six cars.
     My faith began to grow (one shovelful at a time). I determined to simply trust in my relationship with God, who had been proven trustworthy over and over from the time of my childhood.
     As it turned out we had a great meeting that afternoon in Topeka and drove home encouraged. Carol and I recalled how, earlier in the week—and in spite of the blizzard, we had made it to a divine appointment with new friends. As we drove I was still praying for six cars in the driveway. 
     You're probably wondering how the evening turned out. And what about the six cars? 
     Does it matter? The only thing that matters is that the next time it snows I know where I put the shovel. -Russell

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