Friday, February 17, 2012


'Am I where I should be?'

If you are a believer seeking God's will in your life, perhaps this is a familiar question you ask. I ask this often, but I naturally direct the question to myself. It is a common question in my 'self-(internal) dialogue'. I think this comes naturally to some of us as an attempt to ease feelings of anxiety with life matters. It fails, however, to ease our anxiety since what usually happens is that we end up listening to ourselves, the same self who is anxious. Do you ask the question of yourself, or God? The scriptures teach us over and over to go to God with such directional questions - after all, they are about His will.

I take part in a weekly outreach ministry in a predominantly Islamic neighbourhood. I've heard it said: 'You're wasting your time'; 'no one dares come close to a ministry such as this in this neighbourhood' - similar sentiments were expressed by a pastor who is from an Islamic background. He'd been there. The argument makes sense, I know it. After all, there is a mosque to our right and to our left is an Islamic school and bookshop. Still, we were convicted that this is a move of God and that He wanted us to be there in these months.

The other day I had one of those days where doubt just came more readily than assurance. For me this is when faith in God's direction seems to blur before my eyes and I begin to falter. I felt that perhaps spending a whole day each week on this is a waste of time, time that could be spent in a more fruitful ministry, (or on studying for an upcoming exam). So, while we sat on this quiet day, occasionally getting passed by less than friendly onlookers; a nice older man approached and it turns out he is an Italian Catholic. He asked about a Bible in his language, then proceeded to tell my co-worker and I in a rather whispering voice how futile it is to persist with this effort - 'you ca stay all day long but you would be wasting your time', and it went on for about twenty minutes before he greeted us and left. I was pretty discouraged by then - and the thought came to mind: 'I got it wrong again Lord' - I found myself agreeing with discouragement, perhaps this is a futile ministry. At that point I took a short walk and just addressed God in a silent prayer. 'If you don't want me to be here, just tell me so Lord'.

A short while after, a dark woman wearing the full Islamic hijab approached me and asked in broken English if I could give her a complete Bible, in the English language. She was from Somalia but she could not read or write in her own language, although her English was satisfactory. I have been in this ministry for some months now and it is rare for Muslim women to approach us or accept any Christian literature. Part of the issue is obviously fear, amongst other factors. This woman was different; she spoke loudly, as if not caring if anyone heard her enquiries. She expressed a hunger for knowledge and asked for specifically cassette tapes for 'tafsir' which is Arabic for 'scripture commentary' and I handed her some which we happened to have. I usually don't have English Bibles, our literature is in mostly in Arabic, some in Turkish. That day I happened to find both a complete English Bible and a Bible in the Somali language which she asked for to give to a friend of hers! - never before this day did we have a Somali Bible - someone must have donated it earlier that week. She asked if the Bible had 'the whole story' - I said that it did indeed - from the time of Adam and Eve.

It really isn't about 'me' or how I was spending 'my' time. It isn't about 'them' either, their fears or biases. Even so, it isn't about barriers to ministry or about how sound our human reasoning is. In God's kingdom, it's got to be about more than all of these things - it has to be about God, alone.

So it seems that doubt is part of a believer's life. Sure it's totally ironic; yet it is true. And it is no surprise to God. He deals with us in light of His full knowledge of our unbelief. He knows we have questions and in our current state we will have questions. Think of Moses, Elijah, Gideon, Peter and many faithful others. The disciples had the Lord himself in the boat with them when they feared the storm.

I know there are times when we do get it wrong, or times when we are misled to mistake personal feelings for the leading of the Spirit. But when it comes to the matter of faith, we know that it is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). We lack it, yet He starts it and He finishes it. He is the author of our faith. I know I will ask Him, 'Am I where you want me to be?' - it's just my nature, perhaps even my legitimate need, in the flesh - but I also know that He will meet me where I am and when I need it, He will answer me and even help my unbelief.

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