Downs and Ups
As you know, this year has had its share of trials and tribulations, but in all honesty, things are starting to look up. Kristin is getting used to the idea of being a single mom with three children. Jill is at the top of her game with her team out in Oklahoma and the surrounding states, Andrew is doing a great job with his business and Janet and I are adjusting to new routines as she get used to having RA. Both Kristin and Andrew have new homes that were closed on this summer and things are pretty solid with my work. All in all, we are all grateful and rather blessed.
The reason that I am reflecting on all this tonight is that several weeks ago I was asked to step in and be the guest preacher at a small church in Tipton, IN. I looked up in my records that I first visited that church in October, 2006 and have been there many times since. The people are incredibly friendly and Janet and I always feel welcome. Well, today was the day and like always, we enjoyed our time there.
As I thought about all the things that have happened in the past six years, I recalled how Kim, the Senior Pastor, suffered a heart attack in Israel several years ago; and today, we learned that the wife of the one of the church leaders died of a heart attack less than two months ago. Surely, people in that church have suffered like congregations and families everywhere. I had prepared a message about how we all travel through life with its various ups and downs; and used several of the psalms to illustrate how God reacts to our troubles.
Because sometimes we need reminders that God is on the throne and He is there to walk with us throughout our lives. Unfortunately, many of us go through life trying to do it alone, without invoking the assistance of God. But that’s not God’s desire for us. And even if we are staunch believers, most of us encounter times in our lives when we forget to get God involved. Experience has shown me that trials and tribulations either draw us closer to God, or they drive us away from God. And since God is steadfast and would never move away from us, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when our trust in God wanes, we are the ones who moved – not God.
What’s more, God is a patient God. I can’t number the times that I have invoked God’s help through a situation and then when things are looking up, I let God know that I can “take it from here.” Of course, I am usually wrong and then I cry out for God to come to my aid once again. And sure enough, He answers my distress and comes to my rescue. The pattern has repeated itself throughout my entire life. You would think that I would have learned my lesson, but I never do. And if there is any solace to be taken from this, it is that I am not so different from the people of Israel back in Old Testament times.
Psalm 107 tells the story of the ups and downs of God’s people; and how they cried out to Him for help each time they faltered and were disobedient to Him. And then they gave praise when they they were delivered. The verse for tonight is the end of one of the stanzas of the psalm praising God. From Psalm 107:28-31, we are told, “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.” Or stated another way, let us give thanks for God’s merciful loving kindness.
My encouragement tonight is that God wants to walk with you, by your side, every day of your life. Not just in times of trouble, but when things are great as well. And my prayer is that when you hit the trials of life, you will be drawn closer to God, and that you won’t move farther away. Then, when the good times roll, you will still invite God to walk by your side all the days of your life. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…