Boarding our second flight (3.5 hours from Taipei to Chang mai) following the 14 hour haul from Los Angeles to Taipei, I took a moment to change my compression socks to toe socks. I know some people (my wife) cannot bear the thought of cloth between their toes, but for me it’s strangely soothing, especially when my feet feel hot and gross.
Enjoying the inter-digital moisture wicking goodness of my fresh hosiery, I cracked open my first encouragement card from my prayer support group:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepares beforehand that we should walk in them” ~Ephesians 2:10
And the personal note: “You are only able to do what you are doing because of the great mercy and grace of God. May that truth anchor you in Jesus.”
Wow. God has provided and will provide what we need in order to bring Him glory and further His kingdom. This is truth in general, to be sure, but in a specific sense: I am doing nothing to make this plane fly. I am doing nothing to assure my safe arrival in Thailand. God has provided these things so that I can preoccupy myself with the sweat between my toes.
In the same way, I do nothing to earn my salvation and it will not be my specific efforts that may or may not bring the Gospel to the villages we visit during outreach. Fred encouraged and reminded our team that sharing the gospel in Thailand is completely different from sharing it in the states. Our concepts and contexts of spiritual need and salvation are worlds apart.
However, being helpless is not the same as being hopeless. Paraphrasing from the book “Wrestling with an Angel” (thank you, pastor Dan!), God places burdens on us we cannot possibly bear alone so that His power may be made perfect in our weakness. To be saved, we all must be raised from spiritual death, given a new heart that loves and desires Him, given a new mind that treasures the Gospel, and given saving faith in Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins. All these actions are passive. It is a work that we all receive by the great grace and mercy of God while our hearts were/are still dead in sin.
God gives what God requires, no matter how big or small, for each of us who desire to live for Him. For this trip, that happens to include an airplane and competent airline crew to transport our team to Thailand. A team selected by Him since literally forever ago. Loving support from our church. Technology to be able to communicate with you instantaneously. The infrastructure already in place in the form of ZOE’s ministry. The preparation of hearts to hear the beauty of a Gospel that is incomprehensible in its sacrificial generosity...
And yes, toe socks :)