Motives can be tricky things: they are usually complex and hard to pin down. Sometimes I think that I don’t even understand or fully recognize my own motives, and it can be easy to excuse things, even unwittingly, under the guise of “good intentions.” Knowing these tendencies, these realities of being human, has helped me to consider carefully and intentionally our motivation for going to Kenya this summer.
There are lots of things that come to mind as good reasons to do this: Ryan is an effective teacher, and has been looking for a way to be of service using that gift. We think that experiencing another country and culture together will be invaluable for us as a family, and will help us to understand God’s world more fully. We know that our situation here, in the middle of a prosperous and free nation, has given us many opportunities and many resources that we are equipped to share – and more than that, resources that we are responsible to share. Perhaps the familiar phrase “blessed to be a blessing” can speak to some of the “why.” I am continually amazed and grateful for the way God is speaking to my heart through the Psalms as guided by Tim Keller’s devotional. Particularly meaningful lately have been Psalm 57, and 65 through 68, but Psalm 67:1 sums it all up:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us — so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (NIV)
It is our deep desire for our primary motivation now to be no different from that of anything else we do here on earth, which reflects our very purpose for existence: the glory of God. We are seeking ways to make that tangible, and we intentionally pray for God to be glorified, no matter what – not only in big dramatic answers to prayer, but also (and likely more often!) in quiet reminders that He is enough. There is always something coming up that we hadn’t thought of yet, or some new “worry” or circumstance that feels too stressful to even think about how I can glorify God, and the past few weeks seemed to bring these one after another, some pertaining to our trip coming up, some just part of life in general. The reality of leaving our church home for 5 months is hard. It is compounded by knowing that our co-pastor and his family (who are also our much-loved and greatly-appreciated friends) will be moving to a new place and new ministry while we are gone. Having what seemed like the ideal housing situation come up (for us in Kenya), and just as quickly seem to vaporize, is hard. I know that in light of so much else going on in the world, these are not tragedies, but they can certainly be distractions, if I lose focus. Tim Keller’s meditations on Psalm 57 put this into words for me the other day:
“Deeper than disaster, danger, and distress is the desire for God to be glorified. If that can be accomplished by saving us from our circumstances, then praise God! If it is better accomplished by our circumstances remaining unchanged while we continue to show our confidence in God before the watching world, praise God as well.”
(Keller, The Songs of Jesus, p. 121).
And why do we give glory to God? The Psalmist explains that one reason is God’s great love! See 57:9-11: “I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” (NIV). So this is our prayer, especially as we go out to a new nation and new people for this season: that God’s great love for us, for His church, and His people would be powerfully evident, would be life-giving, and would allow even our fearful, wavering hearts and lives to glorify Him in everything! As Keller explains in discussion of Psalm 67, “true enjoyment of God must lead naturally to mission,” and so we ask this of our Father:
“Lord … If you – in all your lofty beauty – have delighted in us and blessed us by grace, it should remove all fear and all lethargy so that we can speak to others of your glory and goodness.” (Keller, 146).