One thing you can say about the Christian life is that it is never short of surprises. I guess that is why being a Christian is unappealing to a lot of folks, when you hand your life, body and mind over to someone else, you no longer fully call the shots. When you follow God it is either all or nothing. As a believer things may be hard, but that does not make being in Christ any less good. I recently went through a series of events where I thought I was in control, not realizing something much bigger was at work. This is the story about how the Lord taught me something in what seemed to be so small.
Church and I have had a rough past, so imagine my mind when I was asked to speak at two churches recently. Somewhere around two weeks ago, I received an offer to do something I had not before. A local pastor of two churches had called camp looking for “pulpit supply”, as a need to be in Texas with his sick father in-law had arisen. The person initially meant to do this job was neutralized due to his wife being in labor, leaving camp to put their confidence in me, or to be more accurate Christ in me. Regardless I was asked to take the task. Naturally I agreed to it. How could I not? It was a paid job, speaking two messages, between two churches. I mean this sort of stuff is my M.O., my thing, what I want to do, what I longed to do, teaching, speaking, bringing the Word to people! Think about the spiritual swagger! You know all of those zealous thoughts and feelings naturally manifested with an exciting opportunity. I had those. As the days began moving towards this situation, my mind began to be plagued with feelings of unease. As I spent time trying to find the source for these “feelings” of unease, I finally began to come to a conclusion as to why I was experiencing them. What I had thought were my feelings actually turned out to be discernment, sound reasoning, and that bit of Christ in us when we think in Him.
At this point in the story I had found a number of reasons as to why I could not speak that weekend. I came to the realization that I was not ready to speak in a church. This conclusion was reached based on several points. First of all my relationship with churches has been incredibly inconsistent and at times completely nonexistent. Who was I to speak to a congregation, for one day perform the role of a pastor, when I barely had much investment in any church anywhere? Second I am still young and have a lot of learn. Sure that seems like a very basic reason, but it really is true. I have been a believer for eight years now, and while the Lord has taught and brought me through so much, I still have a long way to go. When I first got this opportunity I was a little too eager, a little too willing, a little too much me and not enough Him, to feel comfortable in preaching. My arrogance had kicked in and I knew that. Among these there were other reasons, but what it came down to, as I said before, I was not ready.
I chose to take the job to a seminary student also working here at camp. I knew he would take it. I had the right spiritual convictions and knew his love for the Church scene. As I approached him he told me that he was happy I took the job because he really did not want to. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! HE SAID NO?!! But he can’t! I had the right convictions, I prayed, I went before the Lord, he cannot say no! My despair did not change the fact that he did indeed say no. There is a John Wayne quote that goes “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” More often or not I think faith is very much the same, faith is being scared, mad, confused, uncertain, and moving forward anyway. All I could do was move forward and saddle up anyway. There was no backing out, no asking anyone else, just accepting the way things were and keep going anyway.
The next morning as I performed my normal chapel duties, I got a message to call that pastor when I could. My face lit up. All I could think was he had called to cancel. While a few around me did not agree that would be the case I proceeded to return his call. The pastor and I began by swapping normal pleasantries. “Hello”, “Pleasant weather around here”, “Fish Days is getting close”, and “OH HOW IS YOUR SICK FATHER IN LAW DOING!” This was not verbatim, I do have more social tact than that. To my relief and I am sure his, (maybe not his either since it was an in-law), but the guy was better, at least better to the point where the pastor would not have to leave for the weekend. This meant I no longer had to preach. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and resumed my normal life.
Why am I telling this story? I mean it is a pretty minor event. I tell this first of all to say you never know how the Lord is going to teach you. Had I been caught up in myself about getting this job, I would have in the end, likely have been let down and left bitter when it did not work out. Secondly, there are times in life where we have to move forward and continue following God even if we do not feel like it. I was convinced beyond a doubt that it was not right for me to speak that weekend, yet I still had to hold to my commitment and move forward regardless the outcome. This leads to my third point, which is God’s timing really is not our timing. Had these events lined up the way I wanted, I would have probably never learned what He wanted. Because of the situation I had no choice but to trust myself or Him. So the last point is how God operates in what seems like the small and every day. I think we often spend so much time looking for “big” things in life that we miss the “small”, forgetting that God’s whispers are just as powerful and important as His shouts. Sure, on the outside this is a very small event in the course of my life as a person and believer, but on the inside it is another step to living and being transformed in Him. What could be any bigger than that? Seek the Lord in the everyday, in the small, and He will make His ways known to you just as He does in the big.