17 January, 2014

Refreshment: social and spiritual

Yesterday I went to an inter-mission women's prayer and fellowship day. That doesn't sound very enticing, just blandly put like that, does it?

I've gone to this meeting in January every year for the last four years and I never fail to come away from it blessed and refreshed. The organisation who runs it is called the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). 

This is the group who publish the magazine I manage. They are a voluntary gathering of various missionaries and mission organisations who work in Japan. Not all the missionaries in Japan are part of JEMA, but the major missions are. It is an unusual grouping of people. I wonder how many other countries have such a group? Can any of you tell us of some?

In any case, I've become more involved in the group as my boys have gone off to school and I've been editing Japan Harvest magazine. They hold several women's gatherings in the year, the biggest being the retreat I go to each year in early March.

It was on my calendar, so I went yesterday. But later I realised that there were two good reasons to be there:

1. To connect with friends from this network who I never see at other times. 

My job is fairly solitary, so I need to take the time to connect with like-minded others when I can. Yesterday was a great place to do that.

2. To refocus on the bigger purposes in my life. More specifically, to get a closer-to-God-sized perspective on what's going on for me. 

Regular daily life for us is pretty crazy busy and it isn't easy to step out of that to see the bigger perspective beyond the busyness. 

I was particularly encouraged by a focus on Psalm 23 and time to meditate on that and other Scripture. What's on my mind particularly is the LESS THAN six months until we're leaving for Australia. But in reading Psalm 23, my attention was drawn to one word, "Prepare". In this Psalm we read that God prepares a table for us.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (vs 5).
That lead me on to other verses about God preparing things for us:

John 14:3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1 Corinthians 2:9However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And later on an old favourite passage that reminds me of how huge God is, and that He hasn't and won't forget me, nor will He leave me powerless to do the things that come my way, including moving my family internationally.

Isaiah 40
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God’?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
So, I came away, refreshed in my soul. I was reminded again that God goes before me. He's not surprised. In fact He's preparing good things for me. And even the bad things that will come my way, He's right there with me, as we're reminded back in Psalm 23.

1 comment:

Tim and Susan said...

glad you were blessed