Don Goulding - Blog

Bankrupt

Indinka childrenFor who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NETFull)

With five Nigerians stuffed into in a motorcar, I plunged over jungle ruts that became a single-track path. The Peugeot parted eight-foot tall sword grass like the Red Sea. When we came to a wide river, I thought our trip must end but we hailed a dugout canoe and paddled on. Next, we abandoned our shoes and machete-slashed our way through an emerald forest. 

The destination was a palm-thatched village where they had little value for modernization, money, or modesty. The tribal elders informed me no white man had ever before been in their village. They treated me like royalty with long stares and much deference. 

Many are the times when I have observed missionaries playing into the reverence the poor give them. I have succumbed to the temptation of that pedestal myself. It’s cultural-centric snobbery at its worst wherein we claim superiority because of our wealth, medicine, and technology. Western affluence overrates temporal comforts and discounts the unencumbered life seeking eternal blessings.

The children running up to touch my hair and giggle had a beautiful existence to which I could only aspire. The joy in the heart of an African child is far more significant to the universe than the ambition of an upwardly mobile materialist. God applauds the one and temporarily abides the other.

It was only with deepest respect that I could humbly offer the villagers the one treasure that would complete an already rich life—Jesus. I had nothing else to give.

Prayer: Holy Jesus, may I never claim to have anything except you.

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Home

MonarchButterflies LargeIn fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:15-16 NET_FL)

Every eucalyptus twig quivered with orange and black wings as thousands of monarch butterflies rested from their transit in Pismo Beach, California. It’s a natural wonder that should be on every bucket list.

The monarchs’ annual journey is called the “miracle migration” because they fly from the Sierra Madre mountains of central Mexico. Many cross the Gulf of Mexico, devoid of directional markers. Subject to storms and predators, they travel thousands of miles to reach Canada and the eastern United States. Most die en route only to have their offspring metamorpihize, then continue the parents’ journey. Scientists have puzzled for years over this instinct to return to a home they have never known.

God also placed a drive in his human children that makes us hunger for a home we have yet to know. My Christian predecessors moved in the right direction but they never reached paradise during their earthly sojourn. Now it’s my turn to take up the migration. I must reach home with Jesus or die pushing in that direction.

My heart yearns for my eternal home with a desire that neither loss nor earthly blessing can overcome. I watch a loved one dragged off by cancer, and I pine for home myself. I lose my livelihood, and it only serves to pull my soul toward home. I lie on a beach in Hawaii and it’s not enough, I long to go home. The homeward draw is more powerful than all temporal distractions, good and evil.

As long as there is a twitch of strength left in me, I will use it to press after the goal of my heart.

I must get home.

Prayer: Beloved Jesus, I hurt for wanting to be at home in your city.

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Judgment Free

tombDo not judge so that you will not be judged. Matthew 7:1 (NETFull)

Every surface of the cell oozed with self-righteousness. Along with my fellow prisoners, I combed the Scriptures deciding whom to denounce outside our bars. By incremental arguments, we redefined acceptable to mean just like us. We wrote out the names of those we exposed and chanted their infractions. The name of our dungeon was Judgmental.

One morning the door scraped open and a shaft of light cut through the gloom. My grinning Savior strode to the corner with his hand extended. 

“All right friend, enough of this nastiness. Let’s get you out of here.” 

He led me into a world of glimmering beauty. There were bright skies, pounding waterfalls, and space—open space everywhere. My Lord proclaimed me forgiven and showed me  laughter and music.

I knew so little of what free people did that I felt out of place. Seeking the door of my prison, I found my cronies still there. They had my name on their lists. To appease them, I found my old notebook and read some names aloud. But the fetid air began to take its toll and I had to get out.

Tucking the notebook under my arm, I pushed the door until a strong hand stopped it halfway. I peered into the face of my shining Friend.

“Not with that thing you don’t.” He nodded at the list. “You can stay in there to condemn others, or you can live free out here. But what you cannot do is accept my forgiveness, live in my land, and keep that notebook. Not one page or a single accusation, they must all stay behind. Choose.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I choose to let you be the Judge.

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