Apparently, my post last evening resonated with a great number of you. While I was writing, I didn’t think of it as being all that intense, but based on the feedback I received from many of you, it must have hit a familiar chord with more than a few of those people who read this blog. Those of you who know me well can tell that the last several days have been a severe trial. In fact, when I think of being on overload, I was about as close as I get to being at the limit. And I really appreciate the fact that so many of you care enough for me to offer words of encouragement, hope and prayer.
You know, there are nights when it can be difficult to write and other times, like last night, when the words just flow out of my mind and onto the page. The more authentic I am with God, the easier it is for me to share my deepest thoughts to you. Sometimes that happens to us, as Christ followers, when we are at our wit’s end and finally cry out to God for help. Or, when we are so consumed by the things in our lives that we don’t even know which way to turn, God sends us a little surprise by allowing those around us to come alongside and help us through the rough parts. That’s what happened to me earlier today.
For more than 20 years, Janet and I have followed a pattern of dedication to Christ. Oh, we have believed in Christ since we were little children in church together, but for almost as long as we can remember, we have really lived our beliefs – not just on Sunday, but everyday. In fact, we have patterned our lives recognizing that a God centered existence is the most important relationship that we have. But I wasn’t always that way.
For years I was a closet Christian. I believed on Sunday and then pushed through the rest of the week in my typical high powered executive way – doing what I wanted when I wanted – to achieve success. Eventually I realized that God expected far more from me than that and I decided to change my behavior. After all, it’s difficult to profess a belief in Christ when you only live a certain way on Sundays – that’s about 14% of the week.
What I am trying to say here is that the behaviors that I used to have are buried deep inside, but they aren’t dead. I choose to live a God centered life, thanking God for all the blessings that He has bestowed on me. But when things get tough, the way they have the last several weeks, I have to fight to make sure that the old ways stay buried and don’t unexpectedly return to the surface. After all, it would be easy for me to fall back into my old patterns and revert to the kind of person who isn’t so likable. That would be dishonoring to God; and an embarrassment to me.
The truth is that I know that I am an ambassador for the kingdom of God. But, like each of us, there are times that I fight to stay the course. Sometimes people think that just because I have been to seminary, I am immune from the temptations that everyone faces. Nothing could be further from the truth. I struggle mightily when the pressure mounts and I am tempted to resort to the ways of the world as opposed to the way of the Father. And these last several weeks have tested me to the limit.
The good news is that I spent most of last night, and I mean the middle of the night, in communion with God. Sometimes, I just need God to tap me on the shoulder in the middle of the night to share what’s on His mind with me. The encouragement and prayer time was great – even though I was tired today. I felt renewed – the time with God was healing and strengthening to me. And it allowed me to approach the day with a new sense of purpose and anticipation of fulfillment.
The verse for the day was sent to me by a dear friend who knew that I needed a word of encouragement. From the NIV version of the Bible, 2 Tim 4:17, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed…” I needed to hear those words this morning and God’s timing was perfect. My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God will surround you with fellow believers to speak into your life when you need it – just like He did today by sending so many of you to write me. My prayer is that you will persevere and make sure that you ask God to direct your steps. None of us is as strong as all of us. So thank you again for your words and prayers. It’s a part of how this whole God thing works. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…