Have you ever asked God, “How did I get here?” The question is really rhetorical, but it’s a necessary dialogue because you really desire to backtrack through the last season to set marker stones of reminders the way Israel did to remember the great things God did along the way.
Is Our Debt and Desire for Things Keeping Us From Our Destiny?
For those of you who may not know my story, I want to take this week to reflect and remind myself to be thankful for living with open arms. Let me explain, in 2004 life was fairly normal. Living in Southern California, I was faithfully walking out an amazing adventure as I was pastoring a church I planted in 1989 to the unchurched and we had just purchased our dream home. You know, the one we planned to retire in. One day, I read something that caught my attention. It said something to the effect of most believers in America could never fully obey God to do what He really wanted them to do because they are so deep in debt they could never hear him if He wanted to do something different with them. It’s easier to just assume they are where God wants them. That got me thinking and my wife and I made a plan to get out of debt to see if this changed our path. Of course, we couldn’t imagine getting out of debt within 25 years, but we promised God if He helped we would obey.
Well, one year later we were completely out of debt. That alone is a miracle, but it was only the beginning as we found ourselves on a mission trip in Kenya in 2005. One night, while in Kenya both of us had a dream that God wanted us to be missionaries to Africa. As we sat at breakfast amazed by our dreams a man walks up to us and says I had a dream last night that you were to come to Africa. We were stunned and amazed because just as we were in a financial position of freedom God spoke loudly to sell our dream home and move. Thus began an adventure that has now been twelve years running. We have now made multiple trips to Africa and one to Asia. Today we find ourselves living in NW Arkansas and honestly if you had given me a hundred guesses of where I’d be, Arkansas would never have come up. Strangely, this place feels like I have won the lottery and my destiny is unfolding before me. There is no other place I’d rather be right now and God has even given our dream house back to us. Amazing!
Afraid of Losing Something Will Cause You To Lose What Was Meant For Your Gain
To live with open arms means I am embracing and receiving from God all the time. My hands are always open for both to give and receive. I count nothing as my own, it’s all his, so when He says to go here or give there I can do it without fear that He is punishing me or worse that He will leave me stuck there. No, I live with open arms because He has taught me that He always has more and it’s always better! Even when I don’t understand it, if I just trust Him and continue to seek Him, He will bring it together. If I am afraid of what I may lose than I will lose what was meant for my gain.
I have found myself in some of the craziest situations, but God has always shown up in an amazing way. One time I led the daughter of the leader of the town Mosque to the Lord, another time I prayed for a pastors broken down car and it started right up and another time after sharing with a group of people that were known to be the most selfish in the area, a little widow gave her last dollar to the Lord. It brought tears to my eyes, and the town began to proclaim that Jesus is truly Lord when they saw this happen, and yes, one time my team had to get me out of town because the Moslems heard I was winning people to the Lord. I can go on and on with stories that I never may have experienced if we hadn’t made a decision that day to change. God has been faithful and his miracles amazing. I am living an adventure.
You and I Were Created to Live With Open Arms
This week for me is a reminder that I do what I do because I love Him so much and I owe Him everything. I can never go back to closing my arms and hands and living in fear of what may happen if… I am thankful to be exactly where I am, doing what I do and loving an amazing Father! Open arm living is exactly how God designed us to live. Each one uniquely gifted in our own abilities where he is free to use us how He desires and through us He changes the world one life at a time!