Published: Monday, 03 August 2020 16:37
Written by Don Goulding
“The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
I pushed my toes into the white sand of an island off the coast of Belize in Central America. A towheaded missionary boy made a sailboat from half a coconut shell and a stick mast that skewered a leaf. It was a pastoral sight—the tan child grinning as his invention skittered across the lagoon and disappeared into the blue horizon.
What I couldn’t see was the wind that carried the tiny craft. I knew neither the source nor the destination of that enchanted breeze. Nevertheless, the boat’s progress, and the boy’s smile, were positive testimonies to its presence.
The Holy Spirit is a breeze blowing empowerment and fragrant joy. This wind leaves flags and trees untouched and is only seen when receptive hearts flutter.
Oh, that I might have a responsive heart. For frustrating years I pointed my boat where I thought it should go, and prayed for God to move it. Not much happened.
The success of the coconut boat was in its bowl shaped hull that created no resistance in any direction. It zigzagged in response to every wisp. That’s where I need to be, finished with my worldly ballast and my rudder of self-direction, and responsive to every whim of the Spirit.
The pinnacle of my island serenity was the boy’s grin. He held no expectations for his creation’s progress. The coconut danced with the wind, and the boy rejoiced.
Likewise, God poses no demands for accomplishments from my own power. He only wants me to raise my sail and allow my boat to be carried by him. Then he smiles.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me respond to your every breath.
Published: Monday, 27 July 2020 17:42
Written by Don Goulding
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalms 72:12-14) (NIV)
A rickety bus dropped our team where pavement gave way to ruts. This was a Muslim slum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. The schoolroom filled with those wanting to learn English, in hopes it would edge them out of poverty. There were demure women, glassy eyed men, and eager children whose disillusionment would only come later.
Outside the classroom, my heart grieved at the sight below, a sea of corrugated steel huts and plastic tarps over mud walls. There might have been one hundred thousand souls crowded into that valley. Sewage waited in gutters for the next storm.
“Not long ago,” a resident pointed to the hovels, “soldiers stood here and shot at the refugees. Used them for target practice.”
I gasped, then grew nauseous.
When I look behind the tourist photos in developing nations and realize how the masses live, it’s difficult to continue.
What keeps me going is the knowledge that the horror covering the majority of our earth does not go unnoticed by the Great Rewarder. In that valley in Abidjan were drops of unjustly spilled blood that were precious to God. The great Jehovah is not one to sit by without action. Soon, just around the corner of our era, the Lord God will rescue the downtrodden who cry out to him, and anoint them with eternal blessings through Christ.
It is this coming reality that inspires me to help the needy now, to treat them with the dignity demanded for sons and daughters of the Most High King. There will be a final reckoning and I’m accountable for my contributions to their misery by my action, or inaction. Staying home to lick my own wounds is not an option, not while they’re out there still suffering today.
Prayer: Father of Justice, use me to love your mistreated children.
Published: Monday, 20 July 2020 17:23
Written by Don Goulding
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28, 29)
A crack from the whip split the air next to the young ox’s ear.
“On, ya rascal. Why can’t ya be like ol’ Max?” The farmer bellowed.
The yearling, Georgy Boy by name, was having a rough go. The farmer put him in the same yoke with Maximilian. Max pulled straight on, even when sweet meadows beckoned or the lovely cows mooed. Near the end of the day, Georgy Boy panted from straining after this mouthful or that gate.
His thoughts were simple. “Tired … huff. Must rest. Lean on Max. Go where Max go. Ha, Max carry yoke, Georgy Boy rest.”
I spent so much of my life straining to be a prosperous businessman and philanthropist that I wore myself out. More for me, for my family, and for the kingdom of God—such worthy goals. But my agendas were mine, not from the Lord. When I looked back on my row, there were nothing but zigzags. I needed rest from myself.
“Come to me and learn,” Jesus said. “Walk close, touch me, and rest. My yoke will be on you, but I’ll shoulder the burden.”
My own yoke—the corporation I founded, the belongings I acquired, and the pride I boasted—was exhausting. I traded it for the yoke of Jesus and became a pastor and missionary. To my surprise, the burden was even heavier. The yoke of Jesus, after all, pulls people out of eternal hell.
Attempting to carry the yoke of Jesus, or steer it one direction or another, feels much like when I made zigzags under my own yoke. It exhausts me to the core. So I can’t wear my yoke, and I can’t carry his.
My new goal is a contemplative life, in his yoke with him. I want to learn Georgy Boy’s lesson and walk alongside, feel Jesus’s touch, and let him do the work.
Prayer: My friend, Jesus, thank you for the companionship and rest.