Friday, February 28, 2020

Making Sausage

Rendering plants take dead animals and turn them into useful products.  Hot dogs and fertilizer are made from rendered meat.   
Smells associated with the mix of bone, carcass and offal are overwhelming.  Working in a rendering plant is, according to Mike Rowe, one of the seven dirtiest jobs on the planet.  No one likes to see the blood, hides, intestines and bones.  Everyone likes the pet food, makeup, lard and leather.  We can't have products  without process.

Process is preferred unseen and unmentioned.  Rendering isn't the only process we eschew.  Children are celebrated but childbirth is cloistered and anesthetized.  Blood, water, sweat and tears are nowhere to be found when the first baby pictures are taken.  Without the awful, there are no offspring.  I am discovering the necessity of process as a support-based missionary.
My wife does not like to hear me ask for support; not by phone, nor in person.  She plugs her ears and leaves the room cringing.  It is only a full eighteen months after I started raising support that I realize what I am doing to her.  A healthy ministry support team is a product that requires a process.

Name storming, written communication, phone calls, appointments, follow up and periodic updates are parts of the support raising process.  Most of the continuum occurs in the missionaries head, outbox and calendar.  If the process of support raising were a rendering plant, phone calls would make us run for the exits.  When someone tells me 'no' on the telephone, it makes my wife cringe.

She dislikes when my voice wavers with the fatigue of leaving another voicemail message.  We've been married long enough for her to recognize doubt in me.  Calls are fraught with fearful doubt.  Will they pick up; will they have time to talk; will they be able to set an appointment; will they reject me; will they cancel when I call to confirm an appointment?  Telephones are part of the process of raising support. 

God is using telephones to turn me into something useful.  Prayer closets, fasts and worship are tools God uses, but they require my participation.    Keystrokes are being used by the Savior to foment this confession.  Some tools are more effective when I'm cloistered.  Telephone calls are being revealed as opportunities for sanctification.  My wife isn't with me in the prayer closet but she approves the product of prayer.  She doesn't always know when I've fasted but can suspect when I haven't.  Our marriage is stronger when I worship with and without her.  Phone calls, without her present, expose my unbelief.

Steve Shadrach counsels, "The thing that will make you or break you will be whether or not you have really studied the Scriptures and gained a rock-solid conviction that continuing to personally ask others to invest in you and your ministry is good, is right, and is biblical! Have you put in the time to objectively, inductively, and thoroughly study the Scriptures on this topic prior to forming your beliefs and approaches? If not, you need to decide what is going to control you before you embark on this adventure. Will it be fear of rejection or failure? Other people’s opinions? Past experiences? Or the Word of God?" (God Ask by Steve Shadrach, location 833 of 6074).

I've studied the scriptures and believe that, in this season, I am supposed to make disciples among first responders.  I believe God uses the people I call to provide prayer and financial support.  They'll test, reject, validate and instruct me.  They'll put me on hold, say 'yes', inspire me or ask me to call at a later date.  More important than their responses, however, is my obedience in entering the room, closing the door and picking up the telephone.

Rendering plants, and telephones, are overwhelming processes leading to desired outcomes. 

The Cross of Jesus was an overwhelming process that led to a desired outcome.

Must Jesus bear the Cross alone and all the world go free?  No, there's a cross for everyone and there's a cross for me.

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