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          “I will lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in the heaven.  As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.”  (Psalm 123: 1&2 NIV )

          Shortly after we began our ministry in Malawi, East Africa, a happy man came to work for us.  Everyone called him Bambo (Mr.) Whiskes.  He was about my age, but before Malawi’s Independence Bambo Whiskes had worked for the Governor General of Malawi, an Englishman. 

           “We were required to shine the brass buttons on our uniforms every day,” he told me.  “When we served in the dining room, our uniforms were to be buttoned, the tassels on our hats were to hang on the correct side and our hands were to be at our sides.

           “I was to look only at the Governor General.  When he saw that someone’s glass needed to be refilled or a dish of food was running low, he didn’t ask.  We were trained to watch him so carefully that it took only a glance from him or a movement of his hand for us to understand what was needed.  We had to focus our eyes on our master and our thoughts on what he needed and wanted.”

           Bambo Whiskes’ comments made me wonder, “How closely am I paying attention to God?  Does a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit or a suggestion to pray for someone communicate to me the need He sees or the action He requires of me?”

           “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . .” (Heb. 12:2 NIV) the writer to the Hebrews adjures.

           “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right,” (Phil. 4:8 Living Bible).  Jesus is true and good and right.  He will indicate to me His will and His desire for my participation in increasing His Kingdom.

           Persevering prayer, persistent patience and progressive practice will keep our focus on Him.  Our enemy knows it doesn’t take much to distract our inner vision from being fixed on Him.


“Honey, stir your coffee silently -- like this,” Daddy admonished with a gentle, loving smile.  He swirled his spoon in the very center of the cup two or three times, then placed the spoon in the saucer.  No clattering nor clanking!

I grew up in Africa where sugar granules were very large and stirring one’s coffee or tea was either a vigourous or a prolonged business.  I preferred to hurry things up.  However, Daddy wanted me appear to be a lady instead of a girl who came from an end-of-the-road mission -- a from-the-jungle girl who didn’t understand the demands of “polite society.”  He wanted me to conform to actions approved by those I presently lived among.

Although learning to stir my coffee without a clatter hasn’t helped me rise very far on the social scale, a certain amount of conformity is good.  Jesus conformed to ceremonial washing before a meal.  He also attended the synagogue even though He acknowledged that some of the Jewish religious leaders were like “whited sepulchers,” (Matt 23:27) appealingly clean on the outside, but filled with decay and rot.

God asked a lot of people in the Bible to act in non-conforming ways:

Abraham – to go to an unknown destination.  He could have replied, “A place You will show me, Lord?  I have no idea where I’m going!”

Moses – to speak to a rock to find water in the desert.  He could have said, “Speak to a rock, Lord?  The people will think I’m crazy!”

Noah – to build an ark on dry land.  He could have said, “Lord, there is no sea – not even close to here!  And rain?  I’ve never heard of it before!”

Jocabed – to put her baby in a basket in the river.  “God, put my baby in the river?  There are crocodiles in there!”

Ruth – to stay with her mother-in-law rather than return to her own home.  “I don’t know anyone in Israel!”

Rahab – to hide spies when it would have been more politically correct to expose them.  “Hide them?  I could be killed for doing this!”

Hosea – to marry Gomer.  “But Lord, she’s a harlot and I’m set apart to be your man of God.”

The penniless widow of a prophet – to gather many pots in which to pour her dram of oil.  “Yeah, right!  How far will this little bit of oil go?  And then I’ll look ridiculous to all my neighbors when I have to return these pots – empty.”

Radical non-conformity, if God has requires it of us, is right—providing, of course, that we’re sure it comes from God.  Here’s an example:  When we taught in Bible College in Ethiopia, a student came to our school with lumps and scabs on his head.  He had constant headaches because he had been beaten and stoned by his village.  Even members of his own family participated.  His offense? -- preaching the Gospel.  Toward the end of his first year, he stood in chapel and requested prayer for his ministry during the vacation.  “God is telling me to go back to my village and preach.  I know it could mean I will die.”

When we respond in faith, we will be blessed.  It requires a leap of faith.  I read recently, “Both fear and faith believe what the mind envisions will happen.”  Will I cower or consent?

Perhaps I do stir my coffee more silently these days.  However, if God requires us to do something unusual for Him, something no one else has done, let’s respond with a leap of faith.  And a step of obedience.