Sometimes, we think of heaven as a better version of here. And we regard Jesus as ourselves, only kinder, stronger, and generally better. We speak glibly, claiming that our sight of mystery’s visible edge equals understanding. Actually, the revelation He permits nearly drowns us. More would destroy us. He warned Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” How then can He promise that the pure in heart will see Him? After death? Sure. But what about exhortations to seek His face now? Sounds like telling kids to play with matches in the fuel shed.
All posts by James Rush Manley
28. Course Correction
The pilot stared hard at ambiguous gray overhead. Systems like this one—from the south—often meant two to four weeks of rain and caught-up maintenance. Their route lay to the south, towards deteriorating weather. Could he get this missionary there before the jungle closed down? Then, inspiration. Instead of flying the regular dogleg route south to Huasaga and then a hard left for the quick descent into Surikenza, he could go direct. Finding it shouldn’t be that hard, just hold heading like a Pharisee and keep track of time.
27. Remodel or Die
Remodeling takes work. Pull up flooring. Pry off molding. Remove cabinets. Cut through wall sheetrock. Curl hands around the exposed edge and pull hard. Large chunks fall with a satisfying crash, and lots of dusty pieces. The walls’ bones lie bare and exposed. Remove the wires and stub off plumbing. The quick, fun, brute-force method uses the inelegant but effective sledgehammer. Swing hard. Knock the studs free; remove the nails later. Run wires for new lights and fill gaps in the ceiling. Then tape, texture, and repaint. Install new flooring and cabinets. Clean up the mess, and, behold, an open, fresher, much nicer room. Your sweaty effort earned a place of rest and beauty for friends and family.
26. Graceful Attitude
We pilots train to recognize and control three aspects of ‘attitude flying:’
- Nose position above, on, or below the horizon
- Wing bank left, center, or right of vertical
- Amount of power between idle and full
We quickly learn that even small attitude variations produce large performance changes. Exceed the specified pitch angle for a maximum-angle climb, and the airplane stalls and falls. Exceed the critical bank angle in a tight, level turn and pull the wings off. Discerning the difference between a maximum performance attitude and disaster demands hours of practice.
As successful missionary candidates, we demonstrate attitudes with focus, determination, and diligence. We consistently control our time, finances, knowledge, skill, and natural impulses. But only a few degrees separate this maximum performance configuration from calamity. The counterfeit distorts the correct attitude ever so slightly. Our old nature embraces the lie, then religion rewards us. The subtle forgery adds the thought, “God owes me something for services rendered. I deserve His favor because I’ve been good. I should be blessed because I’ve followed the rules.”
25. Glory Hogs
“There’s no manna!” Tira burst into the tent, breathless.
“What do you mean, there’s no manna?” she asked, annoyed, without looking up. This girl would tell her the sun was missing if she could get out of work.
“I looked everywhere. We all did. It’s just not there. What are we going to eat?”
Her daughter’s trembling question sank doubt’s claw into her own heart. What’s wrong? They walked across the river, and no one got wet. As soon as they were out of the channel, back came the water, high and furious. Then, all the men… What a bloody, messy affair. At least they’d quit moaning and were walking again. They ate the Passover the day before yesterday. Surely that would satisfy Him. What now? She sighed, turned towards Tira, shook her head slightly, and then looked down again at the roasted grain. Wonderful stuff. It was so good to taste something new, different. But was God mad? Weren’t they supposed to eat it? The Levites said it was okay … What was going on?
24. Pointed Illusion
The pilot pushed the Saberliner throttles forward and relaxed only a little. The Army’s Commanding General stayed too long. Now he, the aerial chauffeur, had to turn this jet into a time machine. Okay, what can I do? he asked himself. Let’s see … skip the fuel stop; there’s enough. Forget the airways; fly direct. They could still make the meeting if everything went right. Later, still making it and only twenty-three miles from the capital city, he called approach control with his deepest, in-complete-charge voice. Earlier, the en-route controller had mentioned something about weather. But he didn’t need any holding delays. And, he realized, he didn’t have enough fuel for a missed approach or flight to an alternate field. This one had to count.
23. The Right Tool
Right tools bring joy, but wrong tools fail. Dust china cabinets with feathers, not brooms. Pound nails with hammers, not screwdrivers. Wash dishes with sponges, not grinders. Eliminate flies with swatters, not shotguns. God’s kit includes every tool we need for life.
So, for example, we manipulate creation with strength, not wishing. Twist a lid, open a jar. Burn gasoline, fly a plane. Keep running, complete a race. Work hard, make money. Outmaneuver the competition, win a lover. If we change things by strength, can we change more things with more strength? Christ our Lord is strong, but so is our enemy, Satan. If the stronger devil beats us, does Christ beat him by even greater strength? Even God says, “Go in the strength of the Lord.”
Announcing My New Book!
My new book, The Perelandra Paradox: Discovery will see the light of day on April 11th. This is the first of a 3-book series that explores what happens when ordinary people are confronted by extraordinary circumstances. The eBook can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. After its release next month, it will be available in paperback through Amazon, other online channels, and bookstores near you. I look forward to hearing how you like it. Click here to learn more…
22. You Can’t Get Lost
Life seems simple when you fly. Takeoff, turn to 135 degrees, and climb to 5,500 feet. After thirty minutes Copataza slides under the left wing. Turn right, follow the river, and in another five minutes, pass over Mashient. Gently lower the nose until the vertical speed indicator settles on a 500-foot-per-minute descent, and clock nine minutes more. Voilá, Charapacocha appears magically out of the jungle with the plane at pattern altitude. A clear lesson emerges. Fly straight enough to hold heading, climb high enough to miss hard things, keep track of the time, and you will reach your destination. You can’t get lost.
21. Hiding Places
Hiding places abound. Samuel anointed Saul as king of Israel. God gave him free rein saying, “Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” Saul clearly saw God’s certain ability and purpose. Did Saul hiding among coronation-day’s baggage reveal humility or unbelief? Neither. God gave Saul victories, but also granted the deepest desire of his heart—his own way.
Rahab hid three times. She covered the spies and then concealed family while her Jericho life fell around her. She, too, saw God’s plan, when she confessed to her guests, “The Lord your God is God.” Then, He gave her freedom to expose her heart. She rejected her experience with fierce, lusty warriors and the solid, unassailable might of their stone walls. Instead, she chose to hide in the promise of a God she’d never seen.