the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Walking without Crutches

On this past Sunday I was somewhat surprised to find that I was supposed to preach. This is one of the joys of living in a foreign linguistic environment, even when I think I am following a conversation there is often a subtle phrase that slips by my understanding. Then I find myself caught unaware and totally unprepared... well in this case almost totally unprepared.

In the moments before church on Sunday morning I had a suspicion that a previous conversation might have led my pastor to believe that I was going to preach one of our next sermons on James, so I opened to the passage and jotted down a few notes "just in case".

Those notes were grace. I showed up, joined in worship and was only slightly shocked to hear the announcement that I was preaching.

This has now happened to me twice since my trip to the USA last fall. Twice!!! But I wasn't surprised either time, because I know God is working on me getting rid of my crutch.

Crutch? Yep.

Do you know how it happens when you hear that life-changing lesson and your heart is challenged and you spend the next 2-14 years living it out? It's one of those, and it's about crutches. Here's the lesson:

When Moses was in the wilderness God told him: "you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." (Ex 17:6)

Moses had seen God do some pretty amazing stuff with that walking stick of his. So he struck the rock with his walking stick (crutch), and out comes water. Many years later God tells Moses at another place of thirst: "Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water;" (Num 20)

But this time Moses didn't do what God asked, he went back to what he knew and struck the rock with his walking stick.

God wanted him to use his voice - even from the beginning (see the burning bush), but in the beginning He literally allowed him use his crutch instead of trusting the voice God had given him. In the end, God called him to a new place of trust, growth and maturity. To put down the crutch. Moses couldn't do it.

So I asked God as I listened to that sermon "What's my crutch?" and His response was immediate and shocking: "English."

oof. Yep, that's what my soul said, oof.

See, I knew what that meant. It meant I was supposed to begin doing more things - like preaching and teaching and praying - in Akha... without a translator and (even more terrifyingly) sometimes without even being prepared. 

God wasn't asking me to stop preparing for sermons, that is a tremendous mistake with large consequences, but He is asking me to trust Him more.

So I preached in Akha last Sunday, and I butchered things linguistically and theologically. But there is grace for both of those errors, and I saw that grace in the eyes and words of my amazing Akha church. Beyond that, God was glorified because of obedience, and another Akha sermon without translation help is behind me.

These are some of the many crutches and braces that were left behind at Angelus Temple during the time of Sister Aimee currently on display at the Aimee Semple McPherson Parsonage, Los Angeles, CA.

I believe that by the end I'm going to be able to walk without my crutch. Actually, I have great hope that I'll be able to run. 

So, my friends, I ask that you would please help me in physical therapy, and pray for me as I undertake without crutch these tremendous burdens as our school term begins next week:

  • Old Testament Survey: I will be teaching this core vocabulary-intensive course weekly for our ABS-4 full-time students
  • Computing for Pastors: I will be teaching this course monthly for our pastors and ABS-B Bachelor's candidates.
  • Live Translation: I will be translating for Dr. Steve as he teaches his series on the Holy Spirit to our ABS-3 students.
  • Script Translation: I will be translating some of the God Provides scripts from English to Akha for our Akha Outreach Media productions.

Thank you for walking with me!

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