Friday, March 4, 2011

3/4/11 Survival Guide Journal Entry from Dean Matro

Today's Reading:
Numbers 34-36; Mark 11
“When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries...” – Numbers 34:2

“Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns.” – Numbers 35:2

“Select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly.” – Numbers 35:11-12

In the devotional reading today, God describes three instances of boundaries: the physical boundaries of the promised land, the distance boundaries of towns and pasturelands, and the protective boundaries of the cities of refuge. The boundaries define the place where the Israelites were to live. Live inside the space and there is safety. Go beyond them and there is danger.

A new day, a new adventure. A trip half-way around the world. For some of you, this is a chance to see and embrace old friends; for others, it is a trip of profound faith because of the raw and pure uncertainty of it all—excitement and a sense of adventure for both of you, but in totally different ways. Regardless which camp you may fall into, all will be well if you stay within the boundaries of God. Within the boundaries there is life. Outside the boundaries there is danger. Although you may think boundaries define imprisonment, they also define protection. And with protection, there is freedom. It's one of those life paradoxes, where something that seems so totally absurd may actually be quite true.

Your boundaries today are not made up of walls, mountains, shorelines, rivers, or distances like in the old testament. Air travel takes care of those. Instead, your boundaries are much more profound. They are made up of moral codes and character qualities such as compassion, grace, and forgiveness. The Spirit of God is in you, and the fruits of the Spirit are your boundaries. Stay within them for the protection of your heart. Recite them aloud right now as a reminder of God's protection: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Remember them as you serve the orphans. Honor them as you conduct the retreat and chapel services. Respect them as you encounter life in new and far-off places.

Heavenly Father, we need you and the protection you provide. Grant us traveling mercies as we embark on this mission trip to India. May the plane rides be smooth and the border crossings uneventful. And, more than our physical comfort and safety, we pray for protection over our hearts. Allow us to be patient and gracious when things do not go as planned. Prevent us from being bitter when angry. Let Christ's love be evident in all we do. Amen.

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