I have been re-reading the book, Discipling Nations: The Power to Transform Cultures, by Darrow Miller.  I first ran across this book a little more than ten years ago and was captured by the simple yet comprehensive why Miller explained the differences and effects of worldviews. This is a great book to help in our becoming “rooted” as Jesus mentions in the parable of the seed and the sower.

Here is a fascinating passage from this book:

“When I first came to Food for the Hungry, I visited some friends who were working in a beautiful, almost alpine valley called Costanza in the Dominican Republic.  It has many farms and a temperate climate year-round.  As we drove in, I remarked, ‘This almost look like paradise.’  The people we were working among were some of the poorest in the country, yet I saw some beautiful villas on a hill with a majestic view of the countryside.  ‘Who owns those houses?’  My companions replied, ‘There are some Japanese families here.’  It turned out that these Japanese had come to the Dominican Republic right after the war, with nothing.  Like the locals, they labored as poor farmers.  Yet after just a few decades they were prosperous, while the Dominicans still struggled to eke out a living in the midst of a breathtaking setting.  The difference was not physical; it was worldview.  The Japanese settlers have a social value called ganbare, which roughly translates, ‘Try harder, don’t give up, never give up!’  The local farmers were fatalistic, believing ‘whatever will be, will be.’  A lie.  Ideas have consequences.  As the Bible says, ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’”

Everyone possesses certain desires that describe the life they were created to live, the effect and offering of their life.  Some men and women simply go for it, with or without God, while others dream but never dare to move toward those desires.  Why?

I think Miller’s story gives us a partial but significant answer – a person’s worldview.  He says, “A worldview, like a road map, sets our direction and guides us through life.  Like wind blowing through the trees, it cannot be seen, yet it enlivens and animates.  Worldview infuses a community [or individual] with life and establishes its dynamic.  It says, ‘This is who we are [or I am].’” Parentheses mine.

This book has really made me think about my worldview.

In the deepest part of me (my heart), do I believe that there really is no transcendent purpose for my life, for my desires and abilities, for my relationships, my time?  Do I believe that life is about doing the best with what you’ve got, making the most of it, life is what you make it, if it is to be it’s up to me?  Therefore, if my life is to be meaningful at least to me, I must create my own purpose statement, my own meaning, my own destiny.

Or, do I believe in my depths, that this earthly life is unimportant at best and evil at worst, so God is displeased and staying uninvolved until judgment day?  Do I believe ideas like “whatever will be, will be”, God will do what He wants and He does not care about the things of this world, effort is of no consequence.  Therefore, there is no use in investing my life in anything of this world – community, nation, business, government, education, entertainment, environment, law, science, technology, etc.

Do I really believe, really believe that I am made in the image of God, that He deeply loves me as his son, that He wants me to rule, subdue and bring to fruitfulness His creation, that He is producing in me both the desire and ability to do what pleases Him, and that He is with me in every aspect of my life?  Do I believe that He is a loving father or distant taskmaster?  Therefore, I am fully engaged with this world and my heart because God has created me, rescued me, is restoring and releasing me as His intimate ally in the creative enterprise of life on earth.

The first belief is Secularism.  The second is Animism.  The third is Theism.

“Biblical Theism says that if you want to understand man, you must first study God, because man is made in the image of God, and his primary identity comes from God…God has many personal roles we can infer from the design of the universe.  God is Creator, Designer, Artist, Mathematician, Architect, Composer, Poet, Lover, Communicator, Developer, and so on.”

As an image bearer, you and I have a role in this world, which God cares about.  Let us pursue the development and deployment of our glory (our particular weightiness, splendor, beauty, strength, abundance) because we know that we were created for a great, transcendent purpose in which God is lovingly and intimately involved.

Gary

The world sets the agenda for the professional man; God sets the agenda of the spiritual man.” John Piper

I want to share a remarkable story that involved a friend of mine, John Moorhead.

I invited John to attend a Calling Intensive in Colorado this past month.  Though he wanted to come, he was unable because he was taking a friend to a Wild at Heart retreat that same weekend.  At the last moment, things changed.  He emailed me a week before the Calling Intensive to say that he was now available.  With sorrow, I had to tell him that there was not room.

Two days after the Calling Intensive he wrote me this email:

“As you might recall, a good friend and I were waitlisted for a Boot Camp, and he dropped out, leaving me terribly disappointed.  I then tried to catch what I previously missed in your offering last weekend.  That didn’t work out, either.  In the midst of my frustration and confusion, while seeking God one morning, he moved me to turn on the TV and watch a re-run of Gunsmoke. Yep…it was as clear as pulling me to a Scripture, a book or a movie.  It was weird, but I did what He asked.

The story was about Doc Adams, who was kidnapped, in danger, then emerged risking to trust a young man who was involved, but whom he believed had a good heart.  Doc began mentoring the young man in medicine, and at one point the young man asked him why, at his age and with his experience, he did not return east and join a medical school to teach.  Doc’s response went straight to my heart.  The words were for me: “I believe you should stay where you’re needed and do what you can.” I immediately thought that had something to do with dealing with family issues, which are big.  I was wrong.

Three days later, a man I have known for over 30 years, one of my best friends, previously healthy and only 59, had a cardiac arrest at home.  The EMT’s could not get a pulse for an hour, and the ER doc failed for another half-hour, and came to tell us (family and friends) that he wouldn’t make it.  I have never been more convicted of God’s assignment for me…in this case to lead the family and bring healing prayers to Jack (my friend).  Jack finally got a pulse, was found to have huge damage to his heart, and almost died that night.  He was shocked 4 times, and was stiff, white, cold, and lifeless, except for the blips on the monitor.

Today, 8 days later, he is sitting up in a chair, fully awake and oriented.  He is expected to go home on Friday.  Gary, as a physician, I used to take care of patients like Jack.  They almost never survive something like this, and if they do, there is brain damage.  The power of Jack’s healing has shaken everyone around him, including me.  In my 34 years of practice, I’ve never seen anything like it.  To state the obvious, if there had been room for me at your retreat last weekend, I would have had to cancel.

One of the names God has given me is ‘Compassionate Warrior, faithful and true…apprentice to Christ, called to bring healing in his name…’ As a physician no longer seeing patients, he nevertheless is calling me up.  I now believe it; I now will live out of it; my best days are ahead of me.”

One disappointment leading to yet another, in which God speaks in an unexpected way, positioning him unknowingly in a critical moment that would require the glory (weightiness, splendor, strength) of his life, and revealing at a deeper level the effect of his life – his calling.  Wow.

Sometimes the genesis of disappointment is actually the origin of deeper joy, clarity, restoration and release.  Many times I am somewhere between puzzled and upset with God when something I think ought to have happened doesn’t.  Though I still often respond poorly to my plans and desires being blocked, I am becoming more and more patient, curious and attentive to God in the midst of changing circumstances.

This email from John Moorhead and the personal reflection he inspired reminds me of something we hear from God’s lips frequently:

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on our own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.  Don’t assume that you know it all.”  Prov. 3:5-7 Message Version

Becoming more patient, curious and attentive to God with you,

Gary