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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1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in Love.”
The training program was set in the mountains of Arizona. A beautiful area of pine forests near a town called Show Low. We were all split up into teams and these teams did everything together. My team shared a tent together, worked on cutting up wood together and did Bible study together.
For a week the game of ‘Here we are, all good Christians who are going to get on well together’ was played. After that things began to be a bit more real and issues of Character would come out. Part of my job as the team leader was to deal with such issues when I saw them. This eventually brought issues out in me.
One issue that came up was over using the chain saws. We were to trim trees of their lower branches, to about head height so that one could walk through the woods without being snared on branches all the time. This was hard work, holding a chain saw up to head height is not easy. There was also of course an element of danger to the work. There were two saws and two teams of two using them. In one of the teams someone very quickly came to a position of domination and so became the expert with the saw. The team mate did not have a great deal of confidence and was happy not to use it. It was one of those situations that for a short period of time would have been fine, but over many days or weeks it was not good. I sensed that for both people involved it came from insecurity. One had to prove himself and the other did not feel adequate for the task. I asked them to trade tasks but they refused. So what could I do?
Eventually as I talked the situation over with the conference director I realised that I wanted to be ‘nice’, and nice people don’t get into confrontations with others. Yet God is not ‘nice;’ he is loving and there is a big difference between the two. I was challenged by the account of Jesus in the temple (Matt 21:12-13). When he sent the money changers and traders out of the temple he was not being nice, but ultimately he was doing it for their good as much as for God’s. The conference director suggested that I should deal with the issue not with niceness but with firmness as Jesus had. This went completely against my normal way of operating, and that pointed to an insecurity in me. I have a hard time going into situations where people are not going to like me or like what I do. Yet Jesus is sufficient for all these things. He is the one who calls me to do what is right and he is the one who gives grace for the task that he sets before me.
In the end, God gave grace and I was able to forcefully order the two involved to trade tasks. Neither of them wanted to comply and it seemed from the outside that I was doing a ridiculous thing to make an issue of it. Finally however, they agreed, and though I had to stand over them and watch them for a while till they got used to the new arrangement, it did ultimately happen.
It amazes me how Jesus with the care of a skilled craftsman brings out such issues in order to deal with insecurity. Through this issue all three of us grew that day, and I probably the most.