5 F's: Fun, Feet, Fear, Faith, and Following

So, here it is, Monday afternoon in Seoul, South Korea. It is 45 degrees fahrenheit and overcast, and I have just come home from a morning of Bible college classes and three different shopping excursions in search of supplies for this weekend's winter retreat. This weekend, Tain, Dawn, and I have planned to have some fun activities in addition to the sessions in the Word of God with Pastor DeVries and Pastor Sam who is coming from India on Wednesday to be with us. We have brainstormed some games to play that we hope will have people laughing at themselves and others, and enjoying our time together as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Friday evening we will have a couple of games and a service that will culminate in our first ever foot washing ceremony, or whatever you would call that. Having never experienced such a thing before, I searched the Internet for advice on best practices and necessary materials. Last month, I had my feet washed twice when I had a Thai massage, and it was a tad uncomfortable having someone bathe my feet. I knew that these guys washed feet for a living, but it was still a humbling experience for me to have someone else kneel and gently lave water over my bare feet and dry them with a clean towel. Although I was paying for this service as part of the price of the massage, I still thought, "Who am I to have someone else do this for me?" In a strange way, I felt as though I should return this kindness, even though it probably was just part of doing business, earning a living, for the man who washed my feet. In some small way, I think I experienced what Peter felt when Jesus knelt to wash his feet. We're praying that this time of foot washing will have a spiritual impact upon each one who participates.

Saturday night will culminate with a healing service. My part in healing services for many years in Baltimore was to stand on the platform singing with the worship team as pastors anointed people who came forward for prayer. There were times when I thought I ought to go forward for prayer, but I did not, thinking, "I'm not THAT sick. My problem is not SO bad. There are people here who need prayer MORE THAN I DO, so just keep singing." I think that was pride talking, not faith. Earlier this month in China, Pastor Lange anointed people with some special oil that Dr. Eva (who is home with Jesus now) brought him from Israel, and prayed for them. I was one of THEM. I decided that I wasn't going to allow pride or fear or whatever get in the way of faith, and I stood up and waiting for my turn to be anointed. 

If there is one thing I am learning this year, it is the importance of exercising faith in God. The lyrics to a song we often sing in Baltimore just popped into my mind. The song is called The Rock, and the words say, "Your powerful hand is upon me, to live in the light of Your Word. Fear turns to faith in the arms of Your grace. In Your love I'm so secure." How many times I have sung those words without considering the truth behind them. Fear turns to faith in the arms of Your grace... I know that I'm one of those people who hates failure, who even fears it sometimes, and that I don't step out in faith as I ought, even though I know in my head that grace is there to catch me if I fall, even though I know in my head that God's unfailing love is my security. 

Walking away from the security of my job at GGCA, from the home I had bought, from the friends and family who loved and supported me, was like jumping out of an airplane for me and falling from the sky. Exhilarating, but frightening. I had God, the experienced skydiver with a parachute, strapped onto my back, but still the ground was coming closer. When would He pull the ripcord?  And where were we going to land anyway? It's not like we were going straight down. The air was moving and we were moving with it. I knew that I was doing what God was leading me to do, but there were so many questions that had no answers before I boarded my flight to Korea last July. 

God does this to me. He opens a door and lays out the red carpet for me to walk down and through the door, but He doesn't tell me what is on the other side. 

Jesus says, "You'll see. Follow Me." 

And sometimes the answer is no clearer after going through the door. 

He says, "I didn't say the answer would be waiting right inside the door. But the answer awaits you. Trust me. You'll know it when you see it. You'll see it when you're ready to see it. Let's keep going. Follow Me." 

Jesus can be a little infuriating sometimes with all His talk of "Trust Me," "Abide in Me," and "Follow Me." I grumble and drag my feet, but I keep going. What other choice do I have if I really want to find out?

Finally, one day, a day when I least expect it, a day when I've almost given up all hope of ever discovering the answer, there it is.

"Ta-da!" says Jesus as I stand there with my mouth agape, unable to figure where the answer came from, but realizing everything makes perfect sense somehow.

"How...?" I manage to croak out.

"Does it really matter?" He replies. "Now, aren't you glad you trusted and followed me? So, I have another door over here for you to walk through. Step up onto the red carpet and let's go see what's on the other side, okay?" 

And He's on to the next thing in my life, standing in the doorway calling out with lots of joyful energy, "Isn't this walking by faith stuff fun? Come on! Follow me!"

Sometimes I think God is a little crazy, expecting me to be like those Galilean fishermen who dropped their nets and went off gallivanting after Jesus. But maybe I am the crazy one to fear what could go wrong instead of living by grace through faith.

On the Sunday of the retreat, we will have communion together as Christ's body, remembering what He did for us and as us so that He could live in us as through us when we receive the free gift His salvation. Remembering is a vital part of our faith. I can step out boldly by faith when I remember how He upheld me that last time I took such a step. I can cast out fear as I remember the perfect love that gave me mercy when I failed and picked me up with grace and said, "No condemnation. Keep going. You're doing fine." The banner from last summer's East Asia Conference still hangs on the back wall of the Grace Mission Church chapel with the words The Just Shall Live By Faith in large letters. It serves as a reminder to me that, because of what we celebrate in the communion service, I am justified in God's eyes and that I can live a sanctified life by faith. 

Faith can move mountains. There are many mountains here in Korea. I am one of them, I think. By faith I say to God, "Move me this weekend and move in me and all who attend. Amen."

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