Sunday, August 25, 2013

No room for boasting

The LORD said to Gideon, 'The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'" Judges 7:2

Gideon is one of the guys listed in the Hebrews 11 "hall of faith" and his place in God's story is found in Judges 6-8. When he is first called by the Lord to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression he is addressed as a "mighty man of valor." The verses that follow, however, would incline one to view that as a rather facetious statement. Gideon seemed anything but valiant.

But, who am I to talk? I'm not the ideal missionary. I'm not nearly as brave as I'd like people to think I am. My trust in God is not equivalent to what I know it should be in light of all of His faithfulness to me. In the midst of the political anxiety that had recently gripped Cambodia during & after the recent elections there were times that I had felt fearful and anxious. Of course, it is not bad to be wisely cautious, but, I had to wrestle with questions like, "What am I really willing to risk for the sake of the Kingdom?" And even when things are relatively normal, I wrestle with wondering how effective I am. Is my effort going to have an impact? I'm an idealist and in my idealistic imaginings I am the kind of disciple who is willing to weather any storm with steadfast faith; the kind of follower of Jesus who would do anything He asked without question or complaint. But in my emotional response to the recent political tension, as in so many other things, I find that my real self does not measure up to my ideal self. But maybe that's okay. Maybe it's not about what I can bring to the table so much as just my being willing to show up, knees knocking as they may be.

Because as I was talking a few days ago with a fellow sojourner, I was so encouraged to be reminded how much God is doing through my being here which has been totally beyond my control. It's just one of those paradoxical ways that God works. I can see that there are some really good things happening here through the ABLE ministry that very likely would not be happening if I had not come, and yet I can take virtually no credit for them. A prime example of this is our hiring of Savorn, ABLE's community rehabilitation team member in the village. Being so culturally and linguistically distant from the village, I was completely dependent on our other village staff to find someone to fill this role. The way it all played out, I didn't really even have a chance to explain to them exactly what we were looking for, and so, when she started, I kind of had to just hope for the best. Well, as I've seen Savorn at work, I have been blessed beyond all I could have hoped for. She has been a very receptive learner in all that Srey Ny (our Khmer physiotherapist) and I have been teaching her, and she really seems to have a heart for serving these children and families. The other village staff have commented on how impressed they are with the improvement they are seeing in some of the children we've been working with, and we could not have had this kind of impact without Savorn's consistent follow up. In God's providence, the dream I had for this ministry is starting to take shape and I have no room for boasting, only gratitude. 

Savorn, ABLE's community rehabilitation team member