The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
“... if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
“It would be really good if you could see how big God is. One way would be to think of something really big and pray for God to do that.” So advised Ed, who was leading the Navigator Ministry in Edinburgh. It was quite a challenge and as I prayed and thought about it, it seemed clear that what I should pray for would be that my whole family would come to faith in Jesus. Then after some reflection I added that they would come to faith that year.
So, began a prayer request that was prayed day in and day out for the next six years. When I look back on it, six years does not seem that long compared to the prayers of others for their families, but I think this one was different. I think that Jesus really did want me to see how big he is, even in this little way. This was not some ego trip of his, rather he wanted it because in time to come I would need that confidence in order to live out the faith he was calling me to. Not that I am in the league of moving mountains, but there have been moments when he has asked me to trust him for things which seem far from likely and have seen him come through as faithful.
Before the academic year was out I received a letter from my mother. She basically explained how she had come to faith in Jesus. I was completely bowled over. It came as a complete bolt from the blue. As far as I knew, I had only ever shared my faith with my parents on one occasion, and that had not exactly been encouraging. In fact though my family all point to me as the one who brought faith into the family, I can only point to may failure, and that for most there was but one occasion when I had a conversation about Christ. It seems that despite the fact that I never said anything, she had noticed a change in my attitude towards my younger brothers. She had been trying to make herself a better person and had felt a failure, but she had seen me change. So she concluded that it must have been Jesus who had done it and she asked him to help her too.
With this encouragement, I continued to pray daily for my family that they would come to faith. In many ways though Mum was the one who from then on put Jesus on the agenda for the family. My prayer had been for them to come to faith that year, and though my brothers and father took longer, I sense that my mother’s faith was a key factor. I could pray, but she could raise the issue and put it firmly on the agenda. It is amazing how Jesus knows our weaknesses and can work his way around them.
Through the next years I continued to pray and one by one they came through. I made many mistakes in the process. There were false starts, there were discussions that left people crushed, there was a lot of silence, ... in the end though they have all come through and are all by the grace of God going on strongly for him.
In many ways this praying has been quite characteristic of the ministry that the Lord has taken me through. There have been many times when he has called on me to pray. I have prayed, but seen nothing happen. Only when I have left the situation has there been any outworking of those prayers. Some are called upon to reap but I think the Lord has given me the work of sowing. It is a quiet ministry with few glory stories. There is a great encouragement to persevere that comes with seeing what he has done in the past through my family.
FAMILY TO FAITH