This week has been a focus on missions. I always enjoy this time in our church. I love hearing the stories of how people have been used by God in missions. And I am always encouraged by the things that God has taught those who go. The time also brings back fond memories of my own mission trips and a longing to one day go again. This year the thing that I most enjoyed was the missionary sermon.
Mike VrMeer gave the message. He was someone that I knew in the singles’ group at least 7 years ago. At that time he was a fairly new believer with LOTS of passion. There were times that I can remember being overwhelmed by his enthusiasm. Today he brought that same passion, but he has matured in amazing ways. It was incredible to hear him very humbly share the things God had laid on his heart from the book of Philippians. I was astounded at the Biblical knowledge and understanding that he has gained in the last years. It was a very special privilege to see the way God has continued to work in him.
I was also very much blessed by his message. He talked extensively about sanctification. Early on, he made the point that as Christians we often try to achieve sanctification by our works. This results in pride and self-righteousness. Wow, that is so true! And I think that we rarely realize that we are there until God in some way moves us. I think that is what happened for me at the women’s retreat. I realized that in my shame, I was trying and I wasn’t allowing Him in. I was trying to make myself acceptable to Him, when He only accepts us when we throw ourselves on His mercy and grace. It was His grace that showed me the bondage that I was living in and His grace that freed me from it. It is His grace that is continuing to work in me now!
Mike went on to say that when we are being sanctified, we will become more unified with the body. I have seen that so clearly played out recently! I willingly submitted to His work, He did it, and I was (and still am) so overjoyed that I couldn’t stop telling people about it! That has brought about relationships with some that I did not really have before. It has deepened other relationships. And even more than that, it has given me new eyes to see others. There have been several times that I have heard or seen something that might have upset me before. But now, I can identify with it. I’ve said and done similar things and they were in response to the shame within me. Instead of wanting to judge the person right away, I find myself saying a quick prayer that God would release their heart to be free to worship. I know that this time next year, next month, or even tomorrow (maybe in the next five minutes!), I will probably fall back into the trap of trying to gain my sanctification and approval from God. I will think a self-righteous thought. I will judge someone from my pride. But I also know that God, in His grace, is working in me and won’t stop working until the day of Christ Jesus! He will correct me and bring me back to stand humbly before Him. And I will worship! Because He is the only one who is worthy.