September 24, 2013

Psalm 106:12-13 Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.
But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel.

Here we have what is essentially the story of mankind. When God does something dramatic for us we believe and praise Him, but we soon let that slide, and again descend into self-centered thinking and behavior. God is enormously patient, but generally speaking we bear the consequences of our actions, in missed blessings even if in nothing else. What a waste! I am reminded of the famous fable of the hare and the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race. God calls for faithfulness more than anything else, I think. We can’t have that faithfulness without loving Him, which is why we are commanded to love Him, but we make the mistake of confusing feelings with love, and that can be fatal, because no one’s feelings are constant. I do a good bit of marriage counseling, and I always explain that the base foundation of a marriage is commitment, pure and simple. The same is true of our relationship with God. If we are in it for the good stuff He gives us, there will be times when our desires far outstrip what we see as our reality, and that will pull us away from God. If we are committed to God because He alone is worthy of such commitment, then we will receive with gratitude what He gives us, but not let our faith and obedience be dependent on the next “care package.”

I have certainly had my own struggles with faithfulness, but I had the wonderful example of my parents to keep my thinking straight. They went through a lot, but didn’t back down from their commitment, either to God or to each other. I think my mother in particular was tested in this area. She struggled with the fact that she had been a missionary on her own, applying for appointment before my father did, though he arrived in Japan before she did. However, after they were married (in Japan) she was soon swept up in the pressures of being a wife and a mother. Then came WWII, and she and my oldest sister Elizabeth were sent back to the US because of rising tensions, leaving my father as the only Southern Baptist missionary in Japan at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that by the time I was born, as the fourth child, my mother was wondering about being a missionary in the first place. During my childhood she went through a period of virtual dependence on phenobarbital, which was one of the best tranquilizers available at the time. However, she never gave up, and neither did my father, on her or on God. There are many who are in God’s family because of her, and I have no doubt that her rewards in heaven are great. With an example like that, how can I waver?

Father, I didn’t expect to write on that, but then I didn’t expect the dream I had this morning of counseling a missionary couple because the wife was in danger of a real breakdown. I pray for missionary wives, not just in Japan but around the world. I ask You to pour Your Spirit into them, in grace, love, and assurance. Help them lift their eyes to You whatever their circumstances, so that they may walk in peace and joy, drawing all they encounter to You for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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