Thursday, November 22, 2012

thankful for the gospel, shoeboxes, and a big God.

When it comes to the Thanksgiving time of year, the list of things for which I am thankful is extremely long, probably because I spend way too few minutes throughout the year being thankful, and therefore I've left one day to dwell on it all.

But the one thing for which I am most thankful is the gospel. The good news. The story of Jesus. Whatever way you wanna swing it. I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful that I have it. That my body is the temple of God, that He makes His home inside of me. That my life was placed in this time period, in this country, and in this family, all of which allow me to freely accept the gospel.

As I think about how blessed I am to have each of these things, I also think about those who aren't quite as blessed as I am. I think about those who aren't placed in loving families that make you watch Steve Green kids' sing along videos. I think about those who aren't fortunate enough to grow up hearing the gospel every single day.

Recently I've attended two short conferences that were focused on missions. And as I sat there listening to these people talk, I became more and more uncomfortable with the thought that there are people out there who don't have the gospel. People that don't have it, not because they heard it and refused it, but because they haven't heard it. Not very many people like to talk about it, but reality is that people will not spend eternity with God for the sole reason that they haven't heard. They don't know the gospel, and there's no one that will take it to them.

"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God....that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved....For 'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:3, 9, 13-15

I'm doing a Bible study with the wonderful Rachel Langston and a few days ago one of the questions was, "If you could serve God and His kingdom in any way, what would it be? Don't think about the roadblocks to serving Him in that way. Just dream." I gave 4 answers, and the first was to go to places that have never heard the gospel, learn the language, and share it with them.

I brought these things before the Lord, telling Him that these are things that I would love to do, but I knew that He might have other things that He wanted me to do. I wanted to want what He wanted, not what I wanted. But I really had a burden for those who haven't heard.

Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of going to the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Charlotte once again. (If you're not familiar with this or with the shoeboxes, by all means, Google it.) When we got there they told us it was a special day because we would be working with the boxes that were going to special areas. There were more strict rules concerning these boxes than the normal boxes. They couldn't even tell us the name of the countries they were going to. It is extremely hard to get the gospel into these places, but the shoeboxes would open doors for that. I stood there inspecting these boxes and I realized that through these boxes, kids who have likely never heard the gospel before would be hearing it for the first time, and that the light of Christ will be going into some of darkest places in the world.

And that's when I felt God telling me, "Here you go! You wanted to reach those who haven't heard, and I'm giving you an opportunity for that." I didn't really know if I would ever be able to accomplish the first item on my list of things to do for the Lord, and I thought that if I could do this, it would most definitely be many years from now. But the Lord is bigger than my thoughts and assumptions, and even though I didn't go to the place and I didn't learn the language and I didn't personally share the gospel with them, He gave me the opportunity to be a part of this special work yesterday.

The Lord is good.

Today I'm thankful.