Published: Monday, 05 March 2018 16:40
Written by Don Goulding
The Lord is your protector; the Lord is the shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. The Lord will protect you in all you do, now and forevermore. Psalms 121:5-8 (NETFull)
“What you doin’ here, white man.” A thug barked at me as I picked my way through the Oshodi Marketplace in Nigeria. “You don’t belong.”
John, a Nigerian believer, pushed his small body between us and yelled back. We were caught in a sea of swarming Africans in the most densely populated location on the continent. There were shouts of owiibo (white-man), most were friendly, a few were not. A knot of hoodlums led by the mouthy thug bullied me to buy goods at exorbitant prices so they could snatch part of the proceeds. It was time to get out of Oshodi.
Unseen to all, floating above my head was the promise that God protects those who entrust their hearts to him. Three months earlier, I had embraced that promise. I would simplify my life, go to the mission field, and trust him to provide everything necessary.
In Oshodi, and in other tight spots, God kept his promise to the letter. I recall the bus that showed up at the right time to snatch us from a criminal infested jungle in Côte d’Ivoire. I know how God sent an angelic helper to guide me out of the bush in Zimbabwe. I realize he made my ministry partner and me invisible as we walked past Chinese police during a raid of the secret church.
It has to be said that God’s promise of protection is for the spirit of those who love him—not necessarily their body. Nevertheless, in every case so far, he protected my earthly life as well.
While my friend of small stature, and large courage, argued with the Oshodi ruffians, I prayed. John negotiated our way into a more reasonable price, or ransom if you please, and I quickly passed the naira bills to the vendor. While our swindling brokers celebrated, John and I slipped away because the LORD protects us in all we do, both now and forevermore.
Prayer: Lord, let me be consumed with trusting you for everything.
Published: Monday, 26 February 2018 18:12
Written by Don Goulding
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. James 1:17 (NETFull)
The weather is changing. Trees that were clothed with leaves a week ago are running about naked and giggling in the wind. Days are shorter, geese are migrating, snows are coming.
The seasonal upsets are the least disruptive of life’s many transitions. Morals, technology, and governments are in constant flux. Thousand-year-old castles crumble while pert strip malls pop from their shrink-wrap. From the expanding universe to nuclear decay, our existence is so much material fickleness in dire need of spiritual solidity.
In Scripture I encounter a refreshing consistency. God says the same things repeatedly from different angles. Lean not on your own ways is the same truth as he is the vine and I am the branch. The death angel passing over marked doorways is echoed when I escape eternal death through the blood of Jesus. My world may not be the same place it was a moment ago but when God speaks a truth, it hangs irrevocable in time.
The endurance of God’s word trumps every temporal instability. It is my one true hope. So let my opinions zigzag, let the world degenerate, even if the universe melts away—I have the unchanging promise from the Father of lights. He is the one eternal anchor that cannot bend, sway, or even vibrate.
Prayer: My Rock and my Redeemer, through all the changes, to you alone do I cling.
Published: Monday, 19 February 2018 20:21
Written by Don Goulding
The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things … But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NETFull)
I watch Chinese faces squint in passionate worship and I know why they risk gathering in the underground church. I join Africans in a praise dance, clapping out complex rhythms and shouting between lyric phrases, and I know exactly what's inside their hearts. I overhear a political fracas or gasp after the latest school shooting and a secret knowledge of the cause burns in my soul.
As a Christian, I have clearance for intelligence on the state of two opposing unions. I am briefed on what makes heaven sing and what makes hell screech, but I can’t talk about it openly. Discussions of divine glory and eternal burning appear fantastical to those who have not lifted the lens of Jesus Messiah to their eye. Yet, my revelation is too hot to hold inside.
An agent of heaven is called to apply God’s power to change what he can and commiserate with God on the rest. Jesus bequeaths us with far more authority than our enemy would have us know. We can pray down strongholds, speak the words of God, and be operatives of reconciliation. Every Joe-Christian among us needs to rise up as the spiritual warrior we were meant to be.
There are, however, struggles that are destined to continue until Christ returns. Jesus lamented Jerusalem when he longed to gather her children like a hen gathers chicks under her wings. Paul spoke of holy groaning—a deep inarticulate heartache that we are not home in God’s perfection.
I am moving through an epic tragedy with my best comrade, Jesus. We shout victory after some fights, after others we weep—in everything we are together. Throughout eternity, he and I will retell our adventures under a giddy bond because we lived them—both the heavenly and the hellish—together.
Prayer: Mighty, compassionate friend Jesus, you are in this battle with me.