Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Inquiring of the Lord

I selfishly write this blog more for myself than for readers. It's a way for me to process some things and especially to keep a record of how God works along the way--what He does and doesn't do; what He says and doesn't say.

These large packing parties often have difficulties and the challenge for us is to decide what God is saying in the midst of those.  It's been a few years now since I've had this much problem discerning whether God wants us to proceed with a large packing party this year.

You've been reading how He's provided a storage container full of items to fill boxes, and He's still providing. You'd think that would be confirmation that this packing party should happen in September, but I'm still not sure.

The past week has brought three major challenges that make me wonder. The first is the report of relationship strains in our team.  Only God knows how to fix that and we'll be talking about it at our next meeting.

Second is the announcement that the boxes provided for the packing party will be the ones pictured above--traditional GO boxes without the printing.  There's a good reason for this.  The pop-up ones we've been using the past few years, though easy for us to handle, aren't as strong and make it hard for the children who receive them to reuse them to store their items. The GO boxes will be stronger BUT we have to go back to folding them, and that creates a huge logistical challenge.

Third--I just learned there is a scheduling conflict on the September 22 & 23 dates we set for the packing party and the church where we hold the party may not be available for us.  We'll know in a day or so.

Here's the thing.  IF God wants us to hold this packing party and IF we are united as a team, then none of these issues is insurmountable.  God will always make a way.

This morning I opened my Bible to 1 Samuel 23 to continue reading. I certainly didn't expect to get any wisdom from 1 Samuel to apply to this packing party issue.  But, wouldn't you know--God spoke to me through this chapter.

As 1 Samuel 23 unfolds David is in hiding from enemies--fearing the Philistines but fearing even more his own king, Saul, who wants to kill him.  When David hears the enemy Philistines are attacking again, the first thing he does is "inquire of the Lord" asking whether he should attack.  And the Lord said, "Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah."

But David's ragtag army of misfits and malcontents were afraid to go to battle.  So...what did David do?  He didn't berate them or listen to another leadership TED talk, or give them a motivational speech.  David "inquired of the Lord once more."  And...the Lord answered him (again) and said, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand."  The next verse (23:5) matter-of-factly states, "So David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines...thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah."  It doesn't say how David got his army to follow him or what his battle plan was, but once He knew God was ordering him to go David simply went into battle and won.

The chapter's not over yet, though. After his great victory David hears that his king, Saul, is plotting again to kill him. What does David do? He asks Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and He asks God, "Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell your servant."  And God tells him that Saul will come and that David will be surrendered to him. I'd love to know how this happened. Did he hear God audibly speak to him? My inquiring mind longs to know but Scripture doesn't say  So...following God's advice David left Keilah and stayed in the wilderness "And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand."

David had foreign enemies and domestic enemies and God had a plan to protect him from both.  In one case God clearly led him into battle and victory.  But in another God had him retreat into the wilderness and protected him there.

We need to go back to inquire of the Lord. We need to ask Him if a large-scale packing party this fall is a battle He wants us to fight. Because, my friends, it IS a fight.  Will you inquire with me?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Back At It

And...we were back at it again last Wednesday with another packing party work day.  Though the temperature dropped to twenty degrees at least it was sunny and dry and we were blessed with more than forty people from the community who came to help sort and count 10,300 cups, fold and rubber band 10,000 belts and make 2,000 or so jump ropes.

It's always amazing to think how the items we touch will end up months from now in the hands of children in other countries one way or another.

We accomplished an amazing amount of work and it was exciting to see the storage container brought to a sort of temporary organization.

I was feeling great until a few hours later when a team member called to tell me in a roundabout way about feelings that were hurt.  Why do human relationships have to be so challenging?  I mean, I'm close to sixty-five years old and I still can't figure out how to admit to and resolve conflicts.

So, we're going to delve into that subject at our next team meeting and decide if we can all commit to work together as a team well enough to even attempt another large packing party in six months.

I'm trying to look at Jesus' ministry and see how He taught about and modeled relationships.  I'm only half way through Matthew and I already have so many examples.  His very first teaching that we call the Sermon on the Mount is full of direction about how to live with and relate to one another.

I'm not too old to learn how to clearly express my feelings, confess my faults, and ask for forgiveness.  I just need to get back at it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


I haven't been connecting very well through blogging but God has been bringing lots of connections into my Operation Christmas Child world nevertheless.

The picture above was taken at the end of January at our Mid-Atlantic Area Coordinators' planning weekend. It was a true honor to pray for Dania after she shared her full-circle shoebox story with us. How wonderful to connect with her and hear again of the impact these simple shoeboxes can have.

Meanwhile, God's been bringing us connections with so many volunteers to provide items and manpower for our packing party.  We had a work day on February 22nd and are planning another one in March.  Over 40 people came, including more than a dozen students from Bethel Christian School.

Myron cut the rest of the rope we had and hundreds were tied into jump ropes.

The students worked hard to unbox shoelaces and belts to get them prepared for the packing party while other volunteers stapled paper into packets.

A few new friends from Erie Homes for Children and Adults came to assist us, too...

And in the midst of the chaos there was time to stop and connect in prayer...

Last Saturday brought a really sweet connection when my friend Lisa from Virginia stopped in with these fabulous donations.  She and her three grown children, her sister, and her niece drove up in their minivan for her grandmother's birthday party.  In addition to their luggage they brought nearly 600 beanie babies (all washed and sorted) and over 500 washcloths.  Lisa said her children didn't mind riding with bags of animals under their feet because they love Operation Christmas Child!  This special connection is a real blessing from the Lord.

And the connections continue.  We haven't had any new applications for our team this year, so we're asking God to bring us some new members--especially on our prayer team and our church relations team.

And we're praying for all the countries where so many boxes have already been delivered and for those still waiting to get boxes through customs and into the hands of children...

Because every box is a connection to show a child and family God's love.