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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Why Can't it be Convenient?

Have you ever wished God would make His calls more convenient? In my walk with God, I’ve found His calls fulfilling, peaceful, rewarding, and invigorating, but seldom convenient. I’ve come to the conclusion that my personal convenience, as defined by Cheryle M. Touchton, isn’t of great concern to God. I’ve also noticed that unless I let His strength become mine, His calls exhaust me.

Morning Meditation

Read Isaiah 40:28-31

Isaiah 40:28-31

The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary. NASU

Let God’s strength fill you.

• If you lack power, let Him increase your power.

• Wait on the Lord and listen for His call.

• Feel your self mounting up with wings of eagles, running and not growing tired, walking and not becoming weary.

Morning Prayer

Ask God to give you the courage to say yes, regardless of personal convenience to you or your family.

• Ask God to prepare your family for His calls to you.

• Ask God to prepare you for His calls to your family.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study

Mary’s life was on track. She was engaged to the perfect man. She expected a normal Jewish life and marriage. Instead, she got an angel telling her she would bear the son of God.

Read Luke 1:30-31

Luke 1:30-31

The angel said to her, " Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.


Was Mary’s call convenient to Mary and her family?

• The angel said she found favor with God. Do you think it felt like God’s favor?

• After the angel’s visit, how do you imagine the conversation with Mary’s mother went?

• Have you wondered about previous potential Marys that might have said no?

Noah was happily living his life when God interrupted with bad news and a set of instructions.

Read Genesis 6:13-14.

Gen 6:13-14

Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms,” NASU

What do you think went through Noah’s mind as God said He was about to destroy the earth?

• Was Noah’s call convenient?

• How do you think Noah’s wife reacted to news that Noah was dropping everything and building an ark?

• What would have happened if Noah had told God no?

• Have you ever wondered if God warned others who told Him no?

Matthew was a tax collector. He was most likely wealthy, living a life of leisure, and had servants to wait on his every need. Then, a man walks in and says, “Follow me.”

Read Matthew 9:9.

Matt 9:9

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. NASU

Was this call convenient?

• Do you think Matthew blindly followed the call of the cross or did he ask questions that aren’t recorded?

• What do you think was his family’s response to his sudden departure?

• What do you think his life was like on the road?

• What would he have missed by saying no to Jesus?

One enthusiastic scribe promised to follow Jesus everywhere and Jesus warned him of the inconvenience. Another wanted a hall pass to be late for class because he needed to bury his father.

Read Matthew 8:18-22.

Matt 8:18-22

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, " Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead." NASU

What was Jesus’ warning to the scribe?

• How does that warning apply to us today?

• What was wrong with taking time to bury a father?

• What hall passes do we ask for?

Throughout the Bible, we see examples of people saying yes to the inconvenient but rewarding call of God. They interrupted their life to follow the way of the cross. If these calls were so inconvenient, why do you think they said yes?


Before the most recent Pocket Full of Quarters missionary journey, God sent me a small 1992 camper van. At first, I named this rolling disaster Hapless. Little by little, Hapless was restored until eventually, he went through a name change much like Paul on the road to Damascus. Now “Happy” happily caries me from city to city being a part of God’s call for my life. Living in Happy is less convenient that my large beautiful home but certainly more convenient than the tent of previous journeys. I was grateful for God’s consideration.

Now that I have Happy, I find myself deciding to save money and use Happy for other traveling events. When it was time for the 2006 Florida Writers Conference, I was tempted to stay in the beautiful comfortable lodge but when I compared the cost to that of their campground, the campground saved $200. Begrudgingly, after arguing with God, I signed up for the campground.

I arrived and looked longingly at the people carrying their luggage inside. I drove over to the campground and hooked up the water and electricity, and finally turned on the air conditioner. I looked at my toes peaking from the sandals and realized they were muddy. The grease on my hands was impossible to get off. I worried about the effect of the hot Florida sun on my aroma but turned it over to God. I trudged over to the conference center, noticing how much fresher everyone else looked.

On the second night, I got up at about 5:00 AM to use the tiny restroom inside the camper. I collapsed into the bed for another hour of needed sleep before beginning the day. At 1 minute before the 6:00 AM alarm, I jerked awake to the sound of running water coming from the toilet. Oh no! I thought desperately, knowing this couldn’t be good.

I opened the door and sure enough, the foot pedal had stuck and the toilet was full and overflowing. Unfortunately, in that last hour of peaceful sleep, the flowing water steadily filled the black water tank. I tried flushing the toilet (not one of my better ideas) and flooded the carpet with more water. I jiggled the foot pedal, stopping the flowing water, but the damage was done.

Dismally, I looked at the pitch-dark morning and knew the holding tank must be dumped. Frantically, I grabbed the flashlight and jerked the door open. Still wearing pajamas, I stumbled out the door only to drop the flashlight into the blackness. I searched the now muddy damp ground but to no avail. Could I dump a holding tank in the dark? I was about to find out.

Blindly I groped under Happy, feeling for the black water hose, and breathed a sigh of relief as I unscrewed the cap. I thanked God for gloves as a tiny bit of liquid leaked. I pulled out the hose only to find out it didn’t reach the sewer line receptacle. Groaning, I went to the other side of Happy in search of the extender to the hose. The compartment was locked which meant I had to remove the gloves and search through my purse for keys. I washed my hands, found the key, put on another pair of disposable gloves, and unlocked compartment. I tried attaching the extender and couldn’t get it to snap. Not sure I remembered how it worked and deciding it would have to do, I pulled it towards the sewer line. It still wouldn’t reach. Groaning was becoming a habit. Wasn’t there a scripture about that?

I didn’t want to touch Happy’s privacy curtains with my muddy hands so I got my keys and sat in the drivers seat with my head peaking out the door so I could see. I carefully backed Happy off blocks and closer to the sewer line. Suddenly the sound of gushing water filled the silence of the early morning.

Oh no,I thought frantically. I’ve rolled over the sewer hose.Thankfully, the spraying water was fresh. I‘d forgotten to unhook the freshwater hose and the coupling connecting the hose to the spigot had snapped into 2 pieces. I thanked God for small favors. At least it had broken off at the spigot and not the end attached to Happy. While annoying, this wasn’t a crisis because I had another coupling. I considered sitting on the ground and crying but decided laughing was a better strategy. At least the “Pocket Full of Quarters Lady” had a pocket full of couplings.

Deciding to worry about fresh water later, I hooked up the black water hose to the sewer. I ignored the loose attachment of the extender and went around to the other side to search for the release to the black water tank. Oh well, I thought as I accidentally dumped the gray water first. I know you’re supposed to dump the black water first but it’s dark and I can’t see.

I went back around, hoping the tank was dumping, only to realize the ground was uphill and I was going to have to lift the hose and help it dump. I carefully held the extender and decided to be thankful that only a tiny amount leaked. Was it empty?I wondered when it grew quiet. I guessed it was time to put Happy back together and clean him and me up.

Was the sun ever going to come up? I asked God as I crawled on my hands and knees, hoping desperately it was fresh water I was crawling in. I slowly fed the hose back into its receptacle and screwed the cap on. I tried to clean off the extender and put it away but decided to wait until I could see.

Carefully, I drove Happy up onto the leveling blocks so the refrigerator would work. I went inside for the messy work of cleaning. As I kneeled on the floor, soaking up what I hoped was clean water; I began discussing my call with God.

Everyone else is sleeping in a nice comfortable hotel room. If their toilet overflows, they call a maintenance person, I whined.

God reminded me that convenience was relative and this was better than a tent. At least I have you on your knees, I felt Him laugh.

I bartered. I’ve done this for a while now. Surely, it’s someone else’s turn. If I go back to work, they pay for the hotel room when I travel. I’ll still talk to people about you.

God reminded me of free will and that I could say no anytime I wished. He offered to give someone else the blessing of this call to America.

I sighed, thinking of all of the rewards of following the voice of God. I remembered the sunsets at the Grand Canyon and the little girl that helped me set up a tent on Lake Michigan. I remembered the children playing with my bubbles as I talked to their mother about God. I revisited the joy on Mallory’s face after she turned her life over to God. I thought about the miracles I’d witnessed and the confidence that goes with knowing God’s will and having the ability to carry it out. No, I wouldn’t miss this call for anything. Following the call of God is sweeter than even holding my grandson and is worth inconvenience.

I washed the mud out of my only pair of pajamas and did my morning devotions. I went to the conference, a little worse for wear and slightly late. I told my story and made people laugh. “I can’t believe you’ve done all of that this morning,” my friend laughed. “I would have just sat on the ground and cried. Aren’t you exhausted?”

I thought about it. “No, surprisingly, I’m not. You’d be surprised what you can do when you have to. God gives the strength to fulfill His call.” It took the rest of the conference for Happy to dry. My life may not be convenient but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Think about God’s call for your life. What exciting and challenging thing has the Still Small Voice whispered to you? Are you willing to follow the inconvenient call of the cross?

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