Responding to God's Initiations

Last night p. Schaller read this in a prayer time we had right after our Wednesday night church service regarding prayer:

"There were many blunt-edged, self-centered, subjective prayers hammering at Heaven's door clamoring for answers. But God was teaching us, and no school can compare with God's school of hard knocks. Mostly our prayers were stimu­lated by our fears and the desperate desire to escape from the hands of the communists. From our little corner on the periphery of things we were distracted by the tension of our circumstances and the pressures of duress, to say nothing of the accusations that were being cooked up against us by hate-filled men. Because of all this, our praying focused on our fears, our empty cupboard, and our uncertain future. And while this is the natural impulse, that does not make it the will of God for our praying.

"Our constant struggle was to pull God over to our corner of things until we learned that self-preoccupation in prayer leads to discouragement and depression and that the more our prayers turned inward on our circumstances, the more they became subject to the law of diminishing returns. We were like the disciples when they were caught in a terrible gale while Jesus lay asleep in the stern of their swamped boat. Their pre­occupation spilled over in their frenzied shouts, 'Master, carest Thou not that WE perish?' (emphasis mine). Their only thought was about their predicament and the Master's apparent uncon­cern. For us there came a day when our prayers changed. Worshiping together one morning, we came to see that the story of the storm and the sleeping Savior had a lesson for us on the availability of personal faith for the emergencies of life and that there was really no need to disturb the Lord with our troubles. So as we went to prayer we said, 'Sleep on Lord, for we are not going to waken You.'

"However, after a year or more of other strains, and realizing that nearly all the other missionaries were out of China, we lost our recklessness, and fear began to pile up again. In this pre­dicament God taught us to pray in the spirit of the prayer of the Son, '"I delight to do Thy will, O my God," and since You have placed us here in Communist China for some good and accept­able purpose of Yours, we joyfully abandon ourselves to stay on here as long as You need us here.' We found our strength, not in dreams of escape, but in complete surrender to whatever God wanted to do with us, realizing that God's claims are absolute and that we must accept them without bargaining. When God seems to come into our lives like a sword-blade, it is only that He might separate us from ourselves and draw us to Himself.

The thunder-clouds that we had dreaded so much were suddenly transformed into sweet blessing. Like John Bunyan, we almost wanted to pray for greater troubles because of the greater joy they brought in God's assurances. At last our praying had ceased to be an egocentric quest for personal deliverance from trouble and had become a Theocentric tryst that sought first and only, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' We ceased trying to relate God to our problems because we wanted to relate ourselves totally to God's purposes, opportunities, and victory.'' (Used by Permission of Overseas Missionary Fellowship).

It's a joy to be back home in Baltimore for 10 days now already. In a few short weeks we go to Eurocon and then on to Ukraine. P. Morrison will visit L'viv and do a leadership conference for the Ukrainian pastors. Then we return to Kyiv. We covet your prayers...

in the Way...
P. Chris & Gosia