Being a volunteer Area Coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child ministry in Northwestern PA brings many leadership challenges which I find daunting.
I call this my Operation Christmas Child journey and it truly is a journey. Sometimes I struggle with knowing the destination. Will there come a time when my packing of boxes is over? When will that be? How will I know? There are so many children waiting that it seems like there would never be a reason to stop.
And maybe that's true. But lately I've been hungering to know that I'm definitely following His will--especially in this large endeavor of mounting a community-wide packing party to pack 20,000 gift-filled shoe boxes for needy children around the world.
Several things have come up lately that make me wonder. Are they just obstacles to overcome or is God trying to push a door closed? I get confused about things like this a lot, which I partially attribute to my perfectionistic nature.
So yesterday I was reading in Genesis 15 and Abram's desire to know seems to have a strong parallel with mine.
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old,along with a dove and a young pigeon. ”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.
So God tells him to get his offering and lay it out, and I feel like that's what we do with our shoebox offerings. We collect them and we lay them before the Lord.
Then in verse 11 the birds of prey come against that offering and Abram has to spend all his energy protecting it. Would it be a stretch to say that the discouragements that come our way are a bit like those birds of prey? I feel like I've been fighting off some vultures lately.
In verse 12, exhausted, Abram falls into a deep sleep and a dreadful darkness (the NAS says 'terror and great darkness fell upon him) which doesn't sound like a very restful sleep at all.
But after all the struggle and the darkness, THEN he hears God's voice telling him, "Know for certain...." and detailing the promise that will come. Even though it will come for his descendants after 400 years of more struggle. Yikes! Maybe I don't really want to know the promise for the future.
But I do want to hear God's voice for me in this time. So I'm going to lay out my offering and I'm going to fight to protect my offering and I'm going to wait to hear Him even out of the terror and darkness.
Because I want to know for certain....
(To find out more about Operation Christmas Child, go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )