For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
– Psalm 62:5
Over the weekend, I talked to a dear friend that I have not seen in several years. Throughout our discussion, the Lord spoke to my heart, reminding me of how difficult it is to come to a place of desire, a place of hope, only to find that thing we seem to desire most, unattainable. My prayer for my friend, and myself, was that God would bring our hearts to a place of complete trust and rest in Him. I do not believe that desire, nor hope, is bad. I do believe it can quickly create an idol out of an otherwise good and valuable object. Thus, regardless of how much I might long for one thing, my true desire and hope must always be firmly rooted in Christ. It is then that we see that what is humanly impossible is only an opportunity for God to be glorified.
Desire is a powerful thing. It leads us to attain greatness unlike those who wallow in contentment. Desire is also a source of great evil, for it takes those who refuse to be content and entices them to sin. What then, is the purpose of desire? I believe that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:12, 16 epitomizes healthy passion, “We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ….For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (ESV). His desire and passion and life was consumed by one single purpose: the Gospel. This is my prayer, that my life, like Paul’s, would be engulfed by a desire for the Gospel. As applied to my chosen profession of education, Pastor Michael Lederman, plainly stated, “Grammar without grace, ‘rithmetic without righteousness, and history without holiness will puff up the mind. Education must begin with the fear of the Lord, lest our children ‘perish for lack of knowledge.'” If that is not a Gospel-centered philosophy of education, I don’t know what is. Whether I teach in a public, private, Christian, or mission school, my purpose is singular — to be a light that points the next generation to the true source of knowledge and truth, Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, torn between desire and contentment, I prayed the following:
Lord, if I cannot go to Papua New Guinea in 2012, I pray that You would provide a teaching position in a public school–Lord, even at CFC, if I can dare to hope. In either context, let me be a light shining, a hope that there is hope in You. Even as a substitute teacher, may I shine with Your love and light in each classroom I enter. While my plans may have been “PNG or bust 2012,” I know that your timing and purpose is good–thus I ask that Your will might be done. Wherever You lead, I will go–even if “going” is really staying. May my heart be set only on You, not on a place, or a people, or a time–only You. Make me strong in faith, frequent in prayer, and full of humility, that You might be glorified in me.”
With the conclusion of that prayer, I was reminded of Isaiah 42:5-7. These verses are what I consider my “missions promise.”
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath tot he people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ‘I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness'” (ESV).
Subsequently, this afternoon, I discovered that going to Papua New Guinea in 2012 is still a possibility. Until today, going in time for the 2012-2013 school year was humanly impossible. Today, it still might be impossible. I am not bothered by impossibilities. What concerns me more is that this hope would consume me and distract me from what is truly my hope, Jesus Christ. Regardless of whether I go to Papua New Guinea in 2012, 2015, or never go at all, my heart must be set first on Christ. Thus, the verses from Psalms at the top of this post have become my new prayer…that though I would hope, my hope would be in Christ alone.