Take the opportunity to reassess, readjust and realign your heart to Jesus this Lent as we take you through a series of devotionals on 'courage' from our MAF Bible study workbook, Recalibrate. 

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As you read through the story and Bible verses, allow the questions to guide you into a conversation with God – using the time to reassess you current condition and, where necessary, change direction.

 

TO WAIT

Not Yet

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Words by Linda Ringenberg

‘I’m ready to go back overseas,’ my husband confided to me after seven years of working at MAF headquarters. I felt an immediate rush of fear; we both knew God was calling us to go again, but I wondered if I was ready.

We had previously been living in Kalimantan, Indonesia, but returned to the USA in 2002 when our five-year-old daughter, Hannah, was suddenly diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. After God took her home in 2003, we accepted an invitation to work at MAF headquarters and, throughout that time, God brought us much healing. But, after battling with bouts of depression, I was scared to go back.

I began to pray, ‘Lord, if this is the time You have called us to go back overseas, please show me. Even show us where You want us to go.’ Dave came home from flying a few days later. ‘I saw something weird today,’ he said vaguely, ‘It was a cloud.’ Then, after a pause, he added, ‘It was perfectly shaped like Papua, Indonesia – with the bird’s head and everything.’

Was this an answer to my prayer? Encouraged and challenged by this miraculous sign, the next day I told my husband that I believed this was a sign from God for us to return overseas. If he was ready, then I was too!

We waited expectantly for an invitation to serve in Papua, but none came. After some time in intense prayer, we realised that He had given us a vision for the future and that it was not yet time.

Six months later, we received a short-term invitation to return to Kalimantan. We were able to spend a year in what had been Hannah’s home on this earth, which brought us healing and closure. Whilst there, we received another invitation to return to overseas ministry full-time — in Papua!

That was seven years ago. We know now, that without that year in Kalimantan, we wouldn’t have been ready to face ministry in Papua. God’s timing may not make sense to us at the time, but it is always perfect. The work God did in our hearts, to prepare us for future ministry, was certainly worth the wait.

Heavenly Father, sometimes Your timing doesn’t make sense to us. You have told us in Your Word that Your ways are not our ways, but they are higher. Help us to trust in Your perfect timing and be willing and courageous enough to embrace it. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

James 5:7-8 (NIV)

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

  1. What can we remember each day about God’s timing?
  2. What situation can you bring to the Lord today, trusting in His perfect timing?

Take this opportunity to hear what the Lord might be saying to you and to make a personal response.

Father, show me the areas in my life where I need to stop striving and rushing around. Help me to have the courage in You alone, to be able to stop and wait.

About the author

Linda Ringenberg, her husband Dave and sons CJ and Ryan, serves with MAF in Papua. Dave is Director of Operations, and Linda is a homemaker. The family, which has also worked in Kalimantan and Idaho, has served with MAF since 1997. Although most of Linda’s time is spent caring for her family, she also enjoys writing, painting and studying God’s Word with other women.

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TO LET GO

Three Jonahs and a Plane

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)

Words by Jenny Davies

‘Hello, my name is Jonah,’ said a warm friendly voice. I turn from the window to see someone manoeuvring carefully into the seat beside me. I introduce myself, chuckling inwardly. I’m on-flight, bound for my first overseas trip with MAF, and I’m seated beside Jonah!

‘Have you heard of Jonah?’ he asks, with an accent I can’t quite place. ‘He’s a prophet in the Bible, and a traveller just like me.’

My smile broadens, and our conversation begins. Jonah, it turns out, is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who has led a fascinating life. By the time we land in Paris, I think to myself how little this personable fellow resembles his biblical namesake – the peevish, disobedient Old Testament anti-hero who was swallowed by a fish.

You have to peel back the layers of history to understand where the prophet Jonah was coming from. He lived at a time when Assyria was terrorising the nations within its reach. Jonah would have heard the bloodcurdling stories even before he received his assignment.

We don’t know exactly what happened, just that Jonah was carrying so much emotional baggage that it sent him off in the opposite direction, a journey that ended in the belly of a fish. Three days of unplanned submarine travel was enough to bring him to his senses. Jonah ends up fulfilling his assignment, Nineveh repents, and God turns a disobedient detour into a story of redemption.

The book, however, does not end here, but with a bitter Jonah still battling his anger and pain. In his reluctant obedience, Jonah struggled with God’s mercy towards Nineveh because ‘to Jonah this seemed very wrong.’ (Jonah 4:4).

As people jostle in the aisles around me, and bags are retrieved precariously from overhead lockers, I ponder the Jonah moments in my own life, where I may have disobeyed God, been blinded by prejudice, or refused to forgive.

I think about the horrific persecution of Coptic Christians in my travelling companion’s home nation of Egypt. Today, bullets and bombs are raining down on worshippers, and it’s horrible, tragic and wrong.

I wonder at how God always roots out our true motives with a heart that is so much bigger than ours. And how He reminds us – even through plant eating worms – that we are His chosen vessels in order to reach people in a broken world ‘that cannot tell their right hand from their left’ (Jonah 4:11).

We can journey through life trying not to injure anyone, as we heave around our baggage. Or we can let go of anger, control, bitterness and pain. We can let go of the right to flee from God.

Lord, help me to let go of any thoughts or feelings I have that are not of You. Help me to lay them down at the foot of the cross so I can step into Your calling without any baggage. Thank You that, through difficult times, I can cling to You, my heavenly Father, because You Love me and always have my best interests at heart. Amen.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

  1. What can we do to let go of things that are outside of our control?
  2. While reading the passage, are there any ‘Jonah moments’ in your life that come to mind?

Take this opportunity to hear what the Lord might be saying to you and to make a personal response.

Father, we were never meant to shoulder our burdens alone. Help me to be honest with You about how I am feeling, and show me where I can let go and ask for help.

About the author

Jenny Davies came to faith at the age of 18 through the witness of a missionary in Chile who introduced her to a Jesus she had never previously known. After eight years of faithful service as the Communications Officer for MAF UK in Folkestone, Jenny has taken the next step on her exciting journey and is now based in Juba, serving as the Communications Officer for South Sudan and Kenya.

 

 

TO LEAD

Stepping Out

Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10-11 (AMP)

The Bible often tells us not to fear, so it must be a natural reaction! In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, several times. He also says to keep the ‘book of the law’, his Bible, in front of his eyes. In other words: ‘Keep looking at it!’

I believe we need to do that because this is how and where we can get strength. And then there is that wonderful reminder, ‘for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’ He is with us — He goes with us!

I grew up in a Christian family. I knew about God and I can truly say that I have never doubted His existence. Even when I wasn’t walking closely with Him in my teenage years, I never doubted He was there. But I really came to know more of Him, and experienced His guidance, encouragement and direction, when I read the Bible for myself.

I love the many promises of encouragement in the book of Isaiah. They have spoken to me directly and in many personally challenging situations. They have stood out from the page and been just the thing I needed to read or hear at a particular time.

His promises can steady us, help us, guide us, calm us, direct us and give us courage.

I encourage you to read them, then re-read them. Let them speak into your heart and your present situation. In Hebrews 4:12, it says that the Word of God is alive and active. It is fresh every time we go to it — it is never stale!

It tells us that He is with us. He has promised to go before us and to go with us. It is such a reassurance to know that whatever assignment He gives us, He will not leave us to struggle alone.

He promises to take hold of our right hand to help and strengthen us. Wow! That’s so encouraging, so affirming. It gives us the courage to face our challenges with peace, trusting in Him.

But we need to do this by faith and in faith. God tells us to be bold — to look forward and move forward. I have heard it said that sometimes we need to step out on to what seems like tissue paper and, as we step on to it, in faith, God turns it into solid rock under our feet.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and You know how we are made. Thank You for Your Word and the many promises we find in it. May we be faithful to read Your Word and be strengthened by it. Thank You for the deep assurance which comes from knowing that You are with us and that You have promised to never, ever leave us. Amen.

Joshua 1:6-9 (AMP)

Be strong and confident and courageous... Only be strong and very courageous... This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

  1. Which of God’s promises helps give you courage in difficult times?
  2. How can you remember this promise to guide you?

Father, show me where I need to rely on You for refreshment and protection, and reveal how I can better lead those for whom I am responsible.

About the author

Ruth Whitaker is CEO of MAF UK and has led the team there for 13 years. Her interest in aviation started at a young age while visiting air shows with her father. She later studied aeronautical engineering and worked in the aircraft manufacturing industry. Joining MAF enabled her to combine a passion for God’s Word with a longstanding interest in aircraft.

 

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