The second river is the Gihon; it flows around the country of Cush (Ethiopia).(Genesis 2:13) Good News Translation
The fear of doubt, that we (me and the Holy Spirit) actually had a calling, lead us to volunteer for a missions trip to Ethiopia in 2013. We were desperate to find the will of God. We wanted to do something for God.
An outline for a three-part sermon:
We all have the same evidence. Our choice of paradigm determines what we think it’s evidence of.– Matty’s Razor
Lord, don’t be angry and rebuke me!(Psalms 6:1-3) Good News Translation
Don’t punish me in your anger!
I am worn out, O Lord; have pity on me!
Give me strength; I am completely exhausted
and my whole being is deeply troubled.
How long, O Lord, will you wait to help me?
For us Ethiopia was far more than a trip to see a foreign country. We were discouraged. We were in what John Bunyan called “the sough of despond.” We wanted God to give us clarity about what we were supposed to do. There had been a time when we thought that we knew, but we suffered repeated setbacks and in 2013 we weren’t sure. There had been a plan but it got derailed. Were we supposed to put the train back on the tracks, or were we supposed to move on and forget it? How could we continue if we had doubt?
Create a pure heart in me, O God,(Psalms 51:10-12) KJV
and put a new and loyal spirit in me.
Do not banish me from your presence;
do not take your holy spirit away from me.
Give me again the joy that comes from your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach sinners your commands,
and they will turn back to you.
When you realize that you’re out of the will of God, how do you get back into it? There isn’t much in the New Testament about being out of the will of God because it’s so focused on explaining what the will of God is. To find someone who sometimes lamented his failings and shortcomings we have to turn to David.
Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20) Good News Translation
We’re out of God’s will, how do we get back in? Find a commandment and obey it. Find something that you can do and do it.
Hard work will give you power; being lazy will make you a slave.(Proverbs 12:24) Good News Translation
Samuel said, “Which does the Lord prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him.(1 Samuel 15:22) Good News Translation
Does it matter where we go? Not really, the act of going is the key: it demonstrates obedience. Besides, the Lord will direct us where he needs us.
You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.(Proverbs 16:9) Good News Translation
For me it was Ethiopia where I received my call, and I got to share my heart with a friend who encouraged me.
People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.(Proverbs 27:17) Good News Translation
- Call upon the name of Jesus Christ,
- believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
- confess your sin.
Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.(Philippians 3:13-14) Good News Translation
Now that we’re back on track, we can run the race and press towards the mark for the prize.