Sorry in advance for this disjointed blog series. I intended to finish this 3-part series in the spring, but I've concluded it's God's leading. This last lesson I will write about is something we've been challenged in recently since part 2 was posted. For reference, click here to read Part 1 - A Thankful Heart and click here for Part 2 - Our Inability.
"One thing at a time" - it's a commonly used phrase. In fact, it's so common we've grown bored toward its meaning. In a time when multi-tasking and efficiency are high values and we've become reliant on technology to increase these values, it's become challenging to apply this phrase's meaning.
Living Stateside, so much of life we can do without thinking. For example, you can instantly think of where to buy band-aids, a shovel, coffee filters or a newspaper with little to no thought. This simply isn't the case as we start over here in Japan.
Though Japan is a first world nation, in many ways it does things differently. It's been a challenge to say the least. Yet, we've become thankful for the challenge. Jesus' brother James reminds his readers, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
Approaching life one thing at a time has helped us:
Becoming More Cautious & Aware
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).
Peter is writing to Christians who are being persecuted and maligned for their newfound faith in Jesus. Earlier in 1 Peter 1, he reminds these Christians of the wonderful salvation they possess in Jesus Christ. He explains how the testing of their faith has proven to be a reward for them in heaven. Their current trial and response to it authenticates their faith in Jesus. With those realities in mind, Peter challenges them to prepare their minds for action and to be "sober-minded". It's easy to become distracted with different things - our hobbies, our jobs, our community obligations - that it clogs up our mind and causes us to lose perspective. Peter does a proverbial "shake and wake up" of these Christians to realize what they have in Christ and be engaged, aware and stewarding that which God has prepared for them to do.
As we go about our daily responsibilities of parenting, language study and church planting ministry, may we be sober-minded and prepared for action. May we not be taken captive by distraction and over-busying ourselves.
Become More Fully Present
"But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).
Two of the ladies who Jesus spent significant time with while on earth were Mary & Martha. They were sisters. And they welcomed Jesus into their home. Mary was captivated by Jesus. Luke describes, "And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching" (Luke 10:39). Mary knew the implications of what it meant to be in Jesus' presence. She couldn't take her attention off God's Son in her midst. The next verse details, "But Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). Martha finally complains to Jesus about the full weight of hospitality being on her shoulders rather than Martha sharing the burden. Jesus' response is startling. "Mary has chosen the good portion..." (Luke 10:42).
As we meet with different families here in Japan and look to help grow His church, may we be fully present in our marriage, our children's lives and our own personal walks with Jesus.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).
What a significant statement from Jesus. As westerners, we're constantly planning, casting vision, charting courses, creating and accomplishing goals. Multi-tasking and efficiency are so important to us for these very reasons. Yet, we have to admit; in the deep recesses of our hearts we're worriers. Knowing God isn't just a deity off in the distance is critical. Rather, He is a loving Father who cares for His children.
As we plan and look forward to all that God would do through our ministry in Japan, may we not lose sight on who's in control.
Taking things "one thing at a time", though challenging at times, is teaching us many things as we look to see God's Glory in Japan!
How about you?