Where Is Your Worship?

The last few weeks have been trying—to say the least.   A young man from my church whom I have known since he was a little boy suddenly passed away.  Finances continue to be strained as more money has to go out than what is coming in.  Our ministry stands at a crossroads as we continue to ask God which  new direction He would have us to move.  These are the ordeals that make up life and they can lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.  But then God spoke to me and asked a very simple question similar to the one He asked Adam in Eden.  The question was, “Where Is Your Worship?”

As people, and yes as Christians, we often shift our gaze off of God because of our failures or distractions, or the circumstances of life.  We not only lose our focus, but sometimes, as Adam did, we even run away from God.  As the Genesis 3 account goes, the all-knowing God called to Adam and asked, “Where are you?”  God didn’t need to learn where Adam was, but He needed Adam to locate himself and realize his separation from God.

Similarly God asked me the question, “Where Is Your Worship?” because as I sat depressed over the loss of a beloved person in my life or over my current life circumstances, the evidence was clear that I was not focused on Him.  There are a ton of scriptures throughout the Bible that express how God cares for us.  Whether in John 3:16 where He sent His Son to die for us, or Jeremiah 29:11 where he holds our hope and future, or where he knows the very number of hair strands that remain on this slightly balding head of mine as per Matthew 10:30.  So we know God loves us and is concerned for us.  But do we hold that same concern for Him.  Does He hold our attention the way that we hold His?

Turning 40

Michael 40

Turning 40 years old is a milestone in any person’s life. Having recently accomplished this feat, I did the typical soul searching and contemplated the last four decades of my life. There are so many goals that I have yet to achieve—career, home ownership, financial independence.   However, I have come to realize that these are just natural things. Yes, they are noble and worthy aspirations which I still strongly desire. But in the end, these are the things that will one day burn. They won’t mean much in eternity.

The work that I am doing in South Africa is lasting. I came to this country when I was 26 years old, and I haven’t really left. I didn’t know when I was 26 that I would turn 40 in a foreign land. Back then, my whole life was ahead of me. I was young, and in my youthful naivete, I thought I would just spend a year or two serving and then move on to the next thing. The next thing was probably marriage or home ownership in my mind. Little did I know that this nation and these children would capture my heart in a way that would consume my service and commitment for 14 years. It has been the defining chapter of my life.

As for Goshen, we are moving along well. We continue to educate and disciple disadvantaged youth, and though it comes with ups and downs, I am proud of the impact we have been able to have over these many years. I recently learned that all of the elementary students that attend our Learning Center program literally form the top tier in their regular classes. Our older students are also flourishing. While some of our high school seniors have been accepted to premier South African universities, our senior college students are preparing to graduate with degrees in Pharmacy, Law, and Education making them all the exceptional pride of their communities. Spiritually, we are teaching the kids to “shift their gaze” from the distractions and circumstances of this world to focus on the Lord and hear His voice. We constantly reinforce that education and achievement mean nothing outside of the will of God, so it is important to always live to please Him!

Living to please Him in the light of these accomplishments has been the highlight of my adult life. My path, whether by choice or design, did not end up the way I thought or the way that most of my friends’ paths have directed. However, I am grateful to have educated these students in a way which has added just a few more opportunities and choices in their lives. I am grateful for the young men and women that I have had the privilege of mentoring—to shape and mold their choices. I am grateful that my life, though not perfect, has been an example in some ways to show others how theirs can be just a bit better. Finally, I am grateful for a Savior, who gave His life for mine, and how His Father’s plan for this life has pushed me beyond my comfort zone to do something amazing and lasting for His glory. I used to dread getting older, but now I realize 40 looks good on me!