Seeking and Trusting God

My blogs for the remainder of the year are going to be somewhat different to my normal style of writing. God has been actively working in my spiritual life over the last few months, as I have been going through a process of discernment regarding my ministry. Up until now, these thoughts have only been discussed with a few people whom I greatly trust. I had never thought about sharing these on the web through my blog, until today, as I took my daily two mile walk at one of my favorite walking places.

I usually walk with my wife (whom I greatly missed today). This afternoon, however, it was just me and God. As I began my walk, on a glorious, sun splashed afternoon, my thoughts immediately turned to what God is calling me to do in ministry. So many possible ways to minister have been running through my mind lately, but today, I believe that God gave me some clarity on how to proceed. It’s possible that I have completely misunderstood God and I risk looking foolish for discussing what I believe God is calling me to do. Even so, I have decided to take a leap of faith and find out what God has in store for my ministry. Sort of reminds me of Paul’s “fools for Christ” reference from 1 Corinthians 4:10.

Over the last five years, I have applied for pastor positions at different churches and have been the runner-up in several of those instances. I’ll be honest; all of those “rejections” were painful in different ways. It’s never easy being told that you didn’t get the job and I think that I would rather have been told that I finished eighth or ninth instead of second. To seemingly be so close and not get the job…it’s something that doesn’t get any easier. However, I have come to believe that God did not intend for me to land any of those positions. God must have a reason, a plan for me, other than those traditional churches. So over the last five years I have continued to learn how to trust God and persevere in my faith. Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

I believe the reason that I was not selected to serve at those established churches is because God is calling me to start a new church that draws on the strengths of my own unique ministry. Various ideas about where to meet have been presented to me by others interested in this idea, but as of yet – God – has not provided me with any real answers. So I have decided to take the remainder of this year to write about what God is calling me to do and to listen to God. I will write about the type of church that I envision and I invite anyone interested in this new endeavor to contact me with any suggestions or discernment that you may have. I do not have a timetable or any predetermined plans – I am leaving all of that up to God. As God leads, I will follow.

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

A Prayer For Rest

Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Richard J. Foster, in his book, Prayer – Finding The Heart’s True Home, writes: “Through the Prayer of Rest, God places his children in the eye of the storm. When all around us is chaos and confusion, deep within we know stability and serenity. In the midst of intense personal struggle we are still and relaxed. While a thousand frustrations seek to distract us, we remain focused and attentive. This is the fruit of the Prayer of Rest.” ( Richard J. Foster, Prayer – Finding The Heart’s True Home, p.93). 

All of us could certainly benefit from praying this “Prayer of Rest.” Almost everyone that I come into contact with is busy and struggling with the everyday demands of life. Our lives are filled with many activities and distractions that cause us to neglect our relationship with God and our own spiritual well-being. We have every intention to pause and take time to just be with God but something in our hurried lives always keeps us from setting aside some quiet, restful, and renewing time with God.

I woke up very early this morning and my mind was immediately filled with the many problems and worries of the day ahead. Instead of waking up rested and relaxed, I found myself already tense and stressed about many things that were out of my control. The world that we live in bombards us with worries and problems and sometimes it seems that God is a million miles away. I have prayed to God all week for some peace and direction in the midst of life’s many storms. And honestly, I have complained to God all week because I could not sense His presence in my life. I have prayed and prayed for God to show up for me this week and yet I still felt nothing.

Today, as I woke up feeling a certain separation from God, I decided that I would set aside time this morning to just be quiet and attempt to feel God’s presence. I turned off my phone and the television, and allowed myself to be quiet and still before God. As I began to read my Bible and a devotional book, I began to feel at peace with myself and with God. A feeling of peaceful calm came over me and in the stillness and quietness of that moment; I could sense God’s presence. There was not an audible voice or thunder or anything overwhelming. I was able to simply, yet powerfully, sense God’s still presence in that moment in time and as my body started to relax, my problems, worries and doubts all began to fade away. At least today, I have found some “rest for my soul.”

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29). Amen.

Faith and Hope

Hebrews 10:23: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:8: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Have you been waiting for an answer to a prayer? Have you been waiting a long time for that prayer to be answered? Have you prayed and hoped that God would show himself in the midst of your daily struggles and worries? Have you wondered if God has forgotten you? Is it possible that God has been at work in your life all along, opening up a path that will lead you to where God wants you to go? 

For me, it is the unanswered and unseen side of God that causes me to allow doubt and frustration to enter my mind. I know and I believe that God is present with me, much closer than I probably realize. But it’s the not seeing and not knowing that causes me to struggle with doubt and to question God. The psalmist understood this when he wrote: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5). We all go through times when we struggle with doubt and with God’s silence; however, we must continue to praise God as we persevere.

The Apostle Paul understood the significance of perseverance and he wrote about it in his Letter to the Romans. Paul was familiar with suffering for the sake of the gospel and he certainly gives us a great example of one who persevered. Romans 5:3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

As believers, we have a hope, a certain confidence, that God is faithful to those who profess their belief in him. We may not completely understand what God is doing, but we trust that whatever it is, God is working things out for our own good. God has never spoken in an audible voice to tell me what he is doing in my life, although there are many times when I wished he would! For me, my faith gives me a confidence that in spite of my failures and struggles, God is going to use those experiences to make me a stronger and more capable follower. And so I continue to persevere with a hope that God will lead me where he wants me to go.

We are left with little choice but to wait upon God to provide us with answers and guidance. Waiting does not come natural for many of us, especially in today’s society. We easily become impatient, even while waiting on God. Hebrews gives us the answer to how we must wait and it is an answer that I am not completely comfortable with. The writer of Hebrews tells us of the certainty of God’s promise as it related to Abraham. God told Abraham that he would bless him and give him many descendants and Abraham believed God and took him at his word. And then we are told: And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised (Hebrews 6:15). As children of God, we too must learn to wait patiently upon the Lord.

During this time, we have this “hope” that is given to us, so that we may be encouraged while we wait upon God to act. Hebrews 6:19: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. That hope is found through our belief in Jesus Christ, who has become an anchor for our soul, keeping us safe and secure and giving us hope. The storms of life will come our way, but we can take hope and comfort in knowing that God is faithful and he will bless those who remain true to their faith, wait patiently and persevere.

Even though I have never heard or seen God, I believe that God exists. Because of my confident belief in Christ, I choose to persevere and have faith that God is already at work on answers to my prayers, even if the answer is “no”. I don’t have to “see” proof in order to believe that my God is alive and real. I have faith and hope!

God, I’m Waiting

Habakkuk 1:2a: How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
• How long have you waited on a word from God only to be met with silence?
• How can we learn to wait patiently upon God and trust that he will respond?

This morning, as I find myself searching for answers from God, I turned to the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. I often feel different emotions, as I read Holy Scripture from the prophet Habakkuk. Certainly, I can relate to the prophet’s feeling of frustration, as I also wait on God to provide me with answers to my many questions and concerns. I continue to voice my frustration to God that I have been calling to him and seeking answers, but it seems that God is not listening to what I’m saying. However, I also find hope in the nature and character of God, who promises to be faithful to those who are faithful to him. We will all experience periods of hopelessness and anguish but God’s mercy and love will be made apparent in due time.

Frustration often settles in as I realize that God is working within his own timeframe and not mine. We live in a society where we are accustomed to having answers quickly because of technology and often we expect nothing less from God. We demand that God should reveal his plan to us immediately; we don’t like to be kept waiting on answers, even from God. And also like the prophet Habakkuk, I continue to wait on God for answers to my mounting questions. And I wait, and I wait…..

During my reading of Habakkuk and my quiet time with God this morning, I am reminded that all I can do is to continue on in my life of faith and to trust that God’s way is the right way and the only true way. If I believe that God exists to only provide me with immediate answers to my many questions, then I am guilty of reducing God to some sort of magician that only exists to serve my needs and concerns. God, as the creator and sustainer of life, refuses to allow us to reduce him to our own image of who we want him to be. Our way and our plans are often quite different from God’s will. Habakkuk is certainly frustrated as he awaits a response from God, but he is willing to wait for however long it takes for God to provide him with answers to his concerns.

Habakkuk 3:18: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Do you rejoice in God and praise God even on days when you don’t feel particularly joyful? Habakkuk reminds us that we should offer praise and thanks to God in good times and in difficult times. We must find the inner joy that compels us to praise and thank God no matter what our circumstances may be. We must look beyond our current situation in life and have the faith to believe that God is working behind the scenes to lead us into a fuller life that ultimately gives all honor and praise to God our creator. I needed this reminder today as I continue to struggle with and seek to understand God’s call upon my life.

 

God Reigns

Psalm 93

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – the LORD on high is mighty. Your statues stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD.

The book of Genesis tells us that on the third day of creation, God said “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:9-10). From the beginning, as God created this world, he was in command of the powerful waters that covered the earth and he set boundaries that the sea could not go beyond. By making dry ground appear, God set forth the foundation of the earth and all kinds of plants and vegetation began to grow. And God saw that it was all good.

This world has changed quite a bit since that third day of creation but the one constant is God, who remains in control. As wars rage throughout the world, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the world was in a perfect state before the fall of man. The God of eternity past created this world out of a dark and formless state which was devoid of any life. And the God of the present and eternity future continues to be in complete control over the events of our present time. We may not understand why some things are allowed to happen, but God has a plan in which the events of our day continue to play out, until God declares the Second Coming of Christ.

As I was out walking last night just before dark, I witnessed a beautiful view of the sun setting against the clouds. The late evening sky was a canvas in which God painted the most beautiful scene that I have seen in quite a while. I gazed in awe at the beautiful heavens and the brilliant colors that God created. God’s magnificent handiwork helps me to recognize that the same God who created this world is still in complete control. I give praise to God for the glorious beauty that we can discern every day in this, our temporary earthly home.

Prayer: Thank you God for proclaiming your beauty in this world that we live in each and every day. Open our eyes to help us grasp more of the beauty that you continue to create and display so that we can appreciate and comprehend more fully your wonderful presence in our mundane daily lives. God, you reign forever, Amen.