My family has spent the last week moving to a new location. I have had little internet access, and even less time! But I am praying for all of you, and as always, I am counting on your prayers for grace, strength, and perseverance. We are beginning construction of a new webcast studio tomorrow. Due to the workload ahead of us, my contact with you will likely be sparse.
Here is a meditation which has continually ministered to me. It was first published July 31st, 2006. God bless you all.
THREE weeks of holidays… three weeks of one minor crisis after another. From leaking rafts, to overheating engines, to bickering children, to just about anything breaking that could… I found myself exasperated. (In fact, while writing this, my wife called me to the front of the tour bus–just as my son spilled a can of juice all over the couch… oy.)
A couple nights ago, feeling as though a black cloud were crushing me, I spouted off to my wife in vitriol and anger. It was not a godly response. It was not an imitation of Christ. Not what you’d expect from a missionary.
In my grief, I fell asleep on the couch. Later that night, I had a dream:
I was pointing eastward to the sky, telling my wife that stars were going to fall there someday. Just then, a friend walked up, and I was eager to tell her this “prophetic word”. Instead, my wife exclaimed, “Look!” I turned around, and stared into the clouds just after sunset. I could make out a distinct ear… and then an angel, filling the sky. And then, within the angel’s wings, I saw Him… Jesus, his eyes closed, and His head bowed. His hand was extended: He was offering me the Crown of Thorns. I fell to my knees weeping, realizing that the word the sky held was, rather, for me.
Then I woke up.
Immediately, an explanation came to me:
Mark, you must be willing also to bear the Crown of the Thorns. Unlike the nails, which are large and severe, the thorns are tiny pin pricks. Will you accept these small prickly trials also?
Even as I type this, I am weeping. For Jesus is right—I have failed, time and again, to embrace these seemingly small trials. And yet, He seems to be embracing me still, just as He embraced Peter who also failed his trials, cursing and complaining… The next morning, I arose, and repented to my family. We prayed together, and had the most peaceful day yet.
Then I read this passage:
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4, 12)
The “crown of thorns” now, if accepted with docility, will someday become the “crown of life”.
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.(1 Pt 4:12-13)