Things Get Better!
Seriously! But before you think I am off my rocker, or that I have denounced my faith and recanted my salvation (as if I could do that), let me tell you what I mean. The past several months have been a roller coaster of a ride for me spiritually. I have never been at a lower place in my life and at the same time in closer communion with Christ. It all started around the time my parents died last year. Or rather, I should say it all came to a head around that time. I was faithfully serving and my family was suffering as a result. I did not see it coming because I thought, “My wife knew what she was getting into when she married me, and my children know what my expectations are.” Little did I know that resentment was brewing towards me from my wife and my children, and even I was harboring resentment towards them for their seeming lack of faith.
My wife and I counseled for several months with our Pastor and his wife and we made some good progress. It was hard fought progress and getting footholds was difficult, but I think we finally got back on the right track. If life was a book, at least we were in the same chapter. Now ideally we wanted to get on the same page, the same sentence, the same word, the same letter, but that truly takes time I believe. But things started to shape up.
It was during this time that we stepped down out of our roles in leadership and stopped serving altogether. I watched and noticed how after we left that things with the church started to get better. Attendance seemed to rise, the leadership seemed to congeal in a new way, new leaders stepped up, the church building got a facelift, and new and exciting things started to happen in our fellowship. But I also began to notice my family seemed to be, once again, pushed to the back burner and not being used. Now I got a taste of what my wife and kids must have felt like so many months earlier.
So enough is enough right? Lesson learned? Back to work? Not hardly. It is getting closer and closer to a full year without being used in our fellowship. So what is a man of God supposed to do when he can’t serve at church? Well, what I did was pour myself into other ministries that the LORD has given me. I used the time away to prepare for the LORD’s calling on my life and to nurture this ministry here online. I began writing my devotionals here, and recording messages in my online Bible study. It got to the point where I loved doing it every day. And to my surprise, people were reading it. Then one day it happened, my wife in her frustration challenged me about the time I was spending in this ministry. She said that she did not see any fruit in it and that I was wasting my time. I was wounded deeply by her words. But I also noticed at this time she was getting more and more discouraged about our home church and not being used. I can empathize with her, after all, we were called out to where we are now to serve in the church where we were. It is not like we just showed up one day. Our Senior Pastor invited us to come for the purpose of serving. And so we packed up all of our life, left behind all that we knew and moved to serve. And so now that we are away from our family and friends and sidelined in our service, I can understand the frustration, I even share in it. But when my wife said what she said, I was like, “okay LORD, let me see what happens if I stop.” And so for the past eight days, I have not even so much as picked up my Bible, or typed one thing in my devotional. I stopped praying the way I used to pray (not altogether, for me that would be impossible), but I would only occasionally “check in with God” to let Him know I was still here and that I love Him…(He probably thinks I am such a silly man).
And then I did the unthinkable. No I didn’t kill anyone….LOL. I skipped church. I can count on one hand how many times I have skipped church on purpose since I gave my life to the LORD. I told my wife to go on without me. Now I figured that my wife would have taken the kids to church. And she did. Just not our church! She actually went to another church. I was like,”whaaaaattttt?????” But apparently she enjoyed herself. But what I noticed is that over the past eight day, much like the past eight months at my home church, things started getting better.
There was less stress in my home, the arguments over petty little things ceased, my wife and I got along really well, my kids enjoyed company with me and my wife, I even noticed that things at work got better and my business partner and I actually started to agree on things!
SO…you might think that this is a sign that if things are going better when you are not serving, that perhaps God does not want you to serve at all. Perhaps this idea that you have about being a pastor and sharing the WORD of God with people has just been a figment of your imagination. But then God spoke to me. Not in an audible voice, it was more of like a knowing. I can’t explain it but it was like wisdom came upon me. I felt as if God was telling me, “Of course things are easy when you are outside of my will, it is in the fire that you are tested and made to grow strong in your faith.” Complacency is the foothold for the devil. And so I know with all certainty what the LORD has called me to do. I have tried the path of least resistance and I only see in it spiritual death. Give me hell on earth with the honor of serving the LORD for it is far better than still waters and spiritual atrophy. Praise be to the LORD for His mercy, His wisdom and His strength.
And so as the days progress, I am looking to the LORD to reveal to me what is next. Perhaps I am in the wrong place. Like Paul I am looking for that¬†great door of effective work to open for me (1 Corinthians 16:9) and I am certain that there are many who oppose me (1 Corinthians 16:9), but such is the lot for the man who is called by God. I have accepted that I will face this and many other challenges, both from within and without. I have learned that when¬†God calls a man that the enemy has much to lose.¬†I want to fan the flames of believers hearts to make them burn brighter, and fan the flames of hell to make the devil more and more uncomfortable. I want to teach the WORD of God and spark revival. But more than that, I want to please my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now…I plan on catching up with my devotionals over the course of the next several days. It may take a while, but as much as I love the WORD, it will be enjoyable to me none the less. I will keep them in chronological order but those of you who read this will know that the days leading up to the National Day of Prayer were very revealing to me in my walk. Praise the LORD.
Until next time my friends…May the LORD richly bless you and give you the desires of your heart. May His face shine upon you and may He move in your hearts and minds to effectively minister to your families and those in your sphere of influence. And finally, be strong in His WORD and delight in His Spirit. Praise Him everyone!