The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my father in heaven”
People were beginning to ask questions. Were we going to go back to England for the summer? They had plans to make and wanted to include us in them, but it was difficult if I put off the decision. I was hoping that divine light would come and save me from having to make a decision since it involved factors beyond our understanding and beyond our knowledge.
After praying and hearing from God on all sorts of things other than the summer trip it became clear that the divine light for this issue was not coming. God was leaving the decision with us. As we prayed and talked together we first thought, ‘let’s go’, it was not a conviction, but rather, ‘If we don’t have to stay then it would be much nicer to go.’ Being with family and friends is nice. Then we realised that we had yet to stay a summer in Portugal. Maybe we were setting an expectation that would be painful to break later. Coming to this conclusion was a positive step in itself. We were ready to stay.
It was that night, after we had already made the decision that God’s message came: “he doesn’t hurt his friends.” (Psalm 15 Message) The words would not have meant anything if we had not previously made a decision. The Lord, though having a preferred option did not wish to share it while I was avoiding the decision. He would only chip in His thought when we had worked through our own conclusions.
On reflection we realised that most of our friends were big enough to have understood if we had not seen them over the summer. There were others however, the weaker ones for whom the hurt of our absence without good cause might have been too much. We remembered the time we had changed the meeting day of an established Bible study group in order to open the way for a new group that preferred that day. The group was really hurt. Most of the people had been able to understand but there were others who were completely lost to us. The damage once done had been permanent.
Our thinking when we were making the decision of where to spend the summer was aimed at our strongest relationships. It is amazing how we get things upside down! How many times does he have to show us that we are to serve? Now, in his great love he was directing us to the little ones and asking us to serve them. He loves them and he does not want to see them hurt by our rather thoughtless attitudes. If we of all people hurt them, then how would that impact on their relationship with God? The stronger ones of course could easily see our failures and forgive, but in some ways it seems to affect the weak ones more. They see God himself as having failed them. Our hurting them would have rebounded on us too. We might have lost them, and from Portugal we would never have been able to restore the relationship.
A few years later the opportunity did come to stay in Portugal for the summer. It was quite a slow time as most of the Portuguese disappeared on holidays, and it was too hot to do anything productive – definitely a holiday climate.