Monday, January 19, 2015

It's No Mistake that You are Here

Left to right: Antony de Leon, David Toledo, David Prado, Alan Valasquez
Journey House Band Members
"Wherever you're from, whatever your language, culture, or background, I am sure of one thing; it is no mistake that you are here this morning." Somehow this has become a phrase that I use each and every Sunday morning gathering at Journey Church | Guatemala. 

The world is full of things that divide us and it's so easy to lose track of what we should be about as we concentrate on what we should be against. I think of the powerful prayer of Jesus that is recorded as John 17. It is the heart of Jesus that we all become one in Him, just as He is one with the Father. 
"...pray also for those who will believe in my through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
This thought was present in my mind as my eyes looked across our congregation. Skin tone, language, income, politics, vocation, and denomination divide us. As a group I'd say we could disagree on most any subject. The differences in our gathering of doctrine are enough to split the average church wide open. And yet... we worship together as one.

Somehow in this place, we know that there is value in simply letting the main thing be the main thing. We agree that God loves us and that the Bible is His story of redemption. We agree that we all must yield to Him daily and seek His face. We agree that we are broken without Him. We agree that we all need to love each other: this is how we reflect God's love for us, and besides... we really do need each other.

Being the church is about loving God and loving each other. But it's also more than that. We must keep His commandments. We must be obedient to His calling. We must put others before self. We must be vulnerable and be willing to risk: comfort, security, and happiness. Our thoughts must be in agreement with our stated beliefs, because our actions bear evidence of those thoughts.

And so our group gathers to worship, to lift hands to a Holy God. We drink deep and we carry our worship with us as we pass through the steel gate and step into the mission. It is a blessing to be a part of God's church. Our little group continues to grow. Our partnerships with the local schools are flourishing with shared equipment and facilities. 

Left to Right: David Toledo, Gloria Shearer, Chad P. Shepherd
Journey Church | Guatemala Pastoral Staff
God's timing is everything. My two associates were both in the United States while my family still lived there. At the same time I wrestled with God about a calling to Guatemala, He was also dealing with them. The three of us landed in this place with no idea of what God had in store. This story is echoed over and over and over among our people.

It's no mistake. Where you are... it's no mistake. You are being shaped. Where you are... it's no mistake. God can use you. Accept His love. Become overwhelmed and love Him back. Be blown away by His grace in your obedience and then give that grace and love to others.

Last night I read the passage of the Elder in the throne room of God asking John, "who are these clothed in white robes?" and the answer that was given stripped me to my core as I shed tears at my desk, these are the ones who made it through great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb (my paraphrase).

This time that we are all in together is our great tribulation. We must walk through it together now, so that we can stand side-by-side at that moment. I want to be beside you as one of the white-robed giving praise to the God that is saving us.

It's not about our differences. It's all about us having the same Father. It's no mistake that you are here.

"These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will the humber; never again will the thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eye." 
Revelation 7:14-17 (Ps 23:1, Jn 4:10, Isa 25:8)

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