Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Will, With God's Help

Life has changed.  I've started my regular bus route--getting up before 5:30 five days a week, getting home at 8:30 or 9, then turning around to go back to the Dassel bus barn at 2:45 or so for the afternoon run, home here about 4:30.  There's a lot to learn--making sure the bus isn't too early or late, learning the kids names and personalities, and getting to know the orderly ways that the buses unload and load at the schools.

I've made the bus driving commitment for the 2011-2012 school year alongside my commitment to Crossroads Community Church.  It's a big commitment.  The new schedule cuts down the flexibility of my daily life.  I've always been busy--I'm almost never bored--but still, already on the third day of driving bus #38 I can see that things have changed.

Commitments are good things.  There is, first of all, the commitment God makes to his creation.  God continues to sustain and bless us with sunrises each day, with sunshine and rain and snow, and by giving us each breath and each heartbeat.  This morning I so much enjoyed seeing the wildlife--two young deer running on a trail alongside the road, staying with the bus for quite awhile.  Beautiful.  And birds beginning to flock together. 

Each season that goes by is a clear sign of God's commitment to us--and we who have had God's love poured into our hearts get a little taste of how much God is committed to us as we are not willing to just "let go" of those who suffer.  Deep inside we know, from God's point of view, we are not replaceable.  God loves all that he has made and he does not change.

In the Bible, we read over and over again that God cares enough to make promises.  He makes promises to his creation in general, and to the human race in particular and to those who have come into a personal relationship with him. Through the life of Jesus we learn that God cares for individuals, even when they fail.  It's remarkable that when Jesus said to his disciples "follow me" that he remained faithful to them too!  He did not replace them when they disappointed him.  He remained faithful to them throughout his ministry and then, when he rose from the dead, he came back to those specific men and women.  Only Judas was replaced, but that, sadly, could not be any other way.

In return for his commitment to us, God calls us to make commitments.  First, he calls us to love him above all things.  Because we human beings are inconsistent in our sinful nature, God calls us to confess our commitment aloud, to say with our lips, "Jesus is Lord."  This means we leave behind other options for "kings" or "queens" of our lives.  God comes before everything else and he will not share that central place.  See "God Won't Cohabit" for more.

But though God's promises and faithfulness to us and our response of commitment to him is and remains the central commitment of our personal lives, and though no one except God has a right to judge that relationship, we are called to make other commitments also. 

On Sunday evening Toni and I went to the Youth Encounter commissioning service in Spring Lake ParkKelly Marie Gilbert, who we at Crossroads heard from in March made a promise to a particular ministry--to be trained and then to serve for one year as a volunteer with a group of young people called "Crossfire."

At the commissioning service, after some exuberant worship, Youth Encounter's president (Pastor Larry Johnson) gave a message on commitment, speaking of the blessings that come to us when we are willing to say "yes" in response to God's call, instead of just coming along with a ministry when we feel like it.  I'm hoping to share more of Larry's message here when I get a copy from him.

This is a season for commitments.  I believe it's a time for those who have been participating with Crossroads Community Church to prayerfully consider what God is calling them to in connection with this ministry.  Larry spoke of the dangers that come when we merely "co-habit" with one another.  I came to believe that was a word for this season of our church.  Perhaps it is God's word for you in this season of your life too, wherever you may be.  Our church is based on partnership--you can read a bit more about that on the "about us" page of our website.
Our members are ministry partners who trust Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, accept the Bible as authoritative for faith and life, and believe God is calling us together for this season of our lives to pray, worship, study the scriptures, serve, care for one another and give financially for the ministry and mission of God through Crossroads Community Church of Cokato.
If you are a partner, this may be a time for you to consider a more specific commitment.  Some of us are unwilling to step out to say "I will, and I ask God to help me."  I can understand that!  Adding this bus driver commitment alongside of everything else certainly does stretch me!  But, for this season, it seems to be the will of God.  So I said yes.  Perhaps you can say yes too.

(A follow up to this is at Commitment and Blessing, written Sep. 14.)

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