Thursday, May 20, 2010


"It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis." Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

"Calling." It's hard to define. What does it mean to be CALLED by God to a certain task or ministry? Most of us live our lives serving, working, toiling from committee to ministry to short-term mission trip without a clear sense of the path on which our Shepherd is leading.

So how do we stop shuffling papers, organizing dinners and creating more programs?

Psalm 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God..."

It's only in the stillness that we learn who God is - and only after we learn more of who our God is can we learn who He has created us to be. Only then can we know His calling on our lives.

I'm of the opinion that we cannot truly know our calling until we are well into our adult years. The teens and twenties are intended for our Supervised introspection. As God opens the doors for victories and failures, we learn much about who we are and even more about who He is to us. Is He God all the time or only in crisis? Is He the harsh Judge or our merciful Father?

As I prepare for my forty-seventh year, I believe I know my calling - and yet I continually struggle to maintain focus on that call. So many distractions eagerly nip at my heels to steal away my attention, my energy, my passion. But my Heavenly Bridegroom awaits, beckoning me with His Call...

Monday, May 10, 2010


Coincidence. Fate. Destiny. Do we live in a random bubble of events that sometimes intersect, or are our paths already mapped out by a Creator's sovereign design? In the famous words of sage philosopher, Forrest Gump, “I think it's both.” Do humans have free will to choose or does God employ His sovereign will? I say with gusto, “YES!” and then tilt my head with a thoroughly puzzled stare. “How?” Hmmmmm, I don't know. Let me illustrate my absolutely confident uncertainty. I recently spent a weekend at a beach house with my two writing buddies. Each of them experiences God in a special way through nature from time to time through a particular symbol. One gal often sees a deer in her yard or a nearby field. For the other, a rainbow often appears where nothing but clouds should be - as in the picture above. Why a rainbow on a completely sunny day - in the shape of a cross, no less?

My friends aren't superstitious or hyper-spiritual about these “signs.” They simply have noticed God's special “kiss” through the years in these tender revelations. We three had come together for the weekend to work on writing projects; however, all our hearts were heavily burdened with life. When we went to a restaurant for dinner, we noticed two deer running down the sidewalk! Please understand, this is in the middle of a busy beach town – on Main Street! Coincidence? Or was my friend's Heavenly Father comforting her with His presence? The next day we went for a long walk on the beach, taking lots of pictures on a sunny afternoon. I took a picture of my second friend with the sun glaring above, and when we replayed the digital image – a rainbow ringed the sun behind her. Coincidence? Or was her Heavenly Father comforting her with His presence? I don't have a particular “sign” that assures me of God's presence or work in my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching my friends bask in His impromptu kisses. As we walked back to the beach house, I noticed a veritable garden of rocks – smooth stones planted on the beach, worn by the tide's sand and water. I immediately thought of my mom. She loves rocks and collects a rock from everywhere she travels. I began praying for her and thought of her often throughout the rest of the weekend. Coincidence? Or was my Heavenly Father prompting me to pray for my mom, who was struggling with her own battles at the time? Well, my answer is: God guides the deer, the rainbow and the tide; but I choose to recognize His hand on my life…

Gen. 29:1-4 – “Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, 'My brothers, where are you from?' 'We're from Haran,' they replied.” (emphasis added)
  • Please remember – no camel, no GPS, map or compass, and no convenience stores along the way. Jacob lived most of his life “among the tents” (Gen. 25:27), so I'm guessing he was no Daniel Boone either. The journey from Isaac's camp in Beersheba to Haran was approximately 600 miles (as the crow flies), and the average speed of travel on foot is twenty miles a day. You do the math. All Jacob saw at this point was a well and three flocks of sheep with their shepherds – in the middle of a field – somewhere in the east. How many left turns and right forks in the road did Jacob make before arriving in Haran? Did he pray about each one or make the decisions on his own? Out of the thousands of choices we make each day, which ones are covered in prayer?
Gen. 29:5-8 – “He said to them, 'Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?'
'Yes, we know him,' they answered.
Then Jacob asked them, 'Is he well?'
'Yes, he is,' they said, 'and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.'
'Look,' he said, 'the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.'
'We can't,' they replied, 'until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.'” (emphasis added)
  • Jacob seems a little bossy for a newcomer, eh? He shows up, asks a few questions and immediately orders the other three shepherds to take their sheep and get lost when he sees lovely Rachel approaching. Why? Did he have an animal husbandry degree, perhaps an expert in the care of livestock? Or did he simply seek privacy with Rachel? No matter. His not-so-subtle attempt at privacy failed, and Jacob would have an audience for his testimony, witnesses to the story of his past. Considering Jacob's deceitful history, was it coincidence that he was pushed into the humbling accountability corner?
Gen. 29:9-12 – “While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.”
  • Was it a coincidence that Rachel came to the well at the precise moment that he arrived? Think of the echoes of this one kiss, each decision in Jacob's and Rachel's lives leading up to it and each moment after. Rachel thought she was just going to the well to water the flock – AGAIN – but this mundane, daily activity changed her life forever.
Gen. 29:13-14 – “As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, 'You are my own flesh and blood.'”
  • I'm guessing Laban remembered a similar scenario when his sister Rebekah had gone for water and returned with Abraham's servant, who had come to secure a bride for Abraham's son, Isaac (Gen. 24:29-30). Now, decades later (some think Jacob was 75-80 years-old when he fled to Haran), Laban welcomes Jacob – the fruit of Isaac and Rebekah's union – who also met God‟s choice by Haran's well.
Lord, how many times in my day do You work…and I miss it? How many amazing displays of Your power and presence do I let slip by unnoticed because I'm too busy, too skeptical or too downtrodden to believe You would reveal Yourself in such a bold way to ME? Teach me to look for You in the ordinariness of my day. Open my eyes to the God-happenings around me.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Roy's first year in seminary was quite possibly the most miserable year of my life. Wouldn't you think that when a husband decides to devote his life to full-time ministry, the wife should be elated, proud, supportive? Well, I tried. I really tried. But before seminary I had been a stay-at-home mom, who spent much of her day soaking in God's Word and enjoying stimulating spiritual discussions with her church family. During that first year of seminary, I worked too much, saw my kids too little and had no church family. With a sour attitude and thoughtless comments, I managed to alienate the seminary president, the dean and the woman in charge of student life. Desperate for community, I resorted to Busy Bee Mesu's common pattern. I created my own community. I started a seminary wives' weekly Bible study. I worked with admissions, organizing hee-man student movers to welcome newcomers to seminary housing. And I decided it was time that my Hindu boss began learning a little about Christianity – so I started a Bible study with him, too. By the end of our second year, I was a little less miserable because I was a whole lot more engaged.

At my husband's senior awards banquet, the seminary president announced a new award. He held up a gold-plated mahogany plaque and said, “I'd like to award our first-ever Helping Hands award to Mesu Andrews.” I nearly choked on my salad. Me? I walked up to the podium, shook his hand and reached for the glimmering mahogany. “And we'd also like to give you another little token of our appreciation,” he said, reaching behind the lectern. He pulled out a sweatshirt with our seminary's name embroidered on it.

“A SWEATSHIRT!” I nearly threw the glistening plaque on a nearby table, reaching for the folded gray fleece and clutched it to my chest. The audience laughed nervously, and I realized how silly I appeared making gah-gah eyes over a sweatshirt, when the president had just honored me for a meaningful campus ministry.

He graciously chuckled and said, “Well, Mesu has always been more on the practical side.” He affirmed that I had made the cut – done well, overcome a tough situation and made a contribution to others. But I knew in my heart that I had totally missed the point. All my efforts to serve were just a frantic attempt to fill my need for community. But God in His grand plan used my little acts to fill others' needs. Sometimes my little eyes see only my immediate concerns, but God's big ideas are beyond my comprehension…

Gen. 28:10-15 – “Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD , and he said: 'I am the LORD , the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'”
  • Be Jacob for a moment. You've just deceived your father and are fleeing for your life from your enraged brother (who happens to be very good at hunting prey). God speaks to you in a dream about His connection with your grandfather, Abraham, and your father, Isaac. He promises you blessing and descendants beyond number. YOU'VE MADE THE CUT! Now, what is your reaction? Can you move beyond the immediate concern and see the bigger picture, or are you stuck in the here and now?
Gen. 28:16-19 – “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.' Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.” (emphasis added)
  • Okay, you have a dream like that, and you get a promise from God like THAT, and your first response is, “How awesome is THIS PLACE?” You're kidding me. Jacob may have made the cut, but he missed the point. Where is the praise for God? The thanksgiving for God's promise? The awe at God's grace and forgiveness? Let's give Jacob a little grace for being dazed and afraid after such a vivid dream, but let‟s learn from his “duh” moment to keep our focus on the Giver of blessing, not the blessings alone.
Gen. 28:20-22 – “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.'”
  • Okay, Jake, first of all, God already PROMISED to be with you, so why say “if God will be with me?” Secondly, why vow to give Him a tenth IF He brings Jacob back to Isaac's house? God already promised that, too! Why do we qualify our obedience on God's faithfulness when God can ONLY be faithful, and we can NEVER be perfectly obedient? Jacob – like you and me – has already made the cut, already been accepted by God. THAT'S the point – but he's missing it. Jacob still thinks they're in negotiations! God doesn't want Jacob's tenth. He wants ALL of Jacob – and all of us – because He gave us all of Himself.
Lord, I'm overwhelmed at my small-mindedness and the vastness of Your plan – that includes me. My humble offerings are sometimes given with silly or selfish motives, and yet in Your grace You receive them, changing them into something useful – sometimes even beautiful. Train my focus toward You, Lord, each and every waking moment – even in my dreams.