Conflict, suffering and pain are doable because of God’s presence. God can take them away, but many times He communicates to us what He communicated to Paul. “Look to Me in your suffering, and not only will you be able to persevere through it, but My glory will shine through you despite the pain.”
These thoughts are inspired by yesterday’s Jesus calling (October 5).
My brother and his family traveled back to their home yesterday, and he has to go to work today and tomorrow. Their trip was not a short one. He’s worn out, and they have four kids!
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will walk and not grow weary. They will run and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40, from memory)
Obviously you know life is hard, but when you have people to journey with like my brother Jeremy, his wife Crystal, and their four incredible kiddos it makes the journey worth traveling.
We aren’t promised a smooth easy road, but we are promised the presence of a God Who never leaves us nor forsakes us no matter how desperate and fearful we become. He continues to deliver me in the face of this debilitating mental illness, and I cannot underscore the gratitude I have for the perseverance He grants me.
We serve a God who put us here, not to torture us for His own pleasure, for His desire to be with His children the way I want to be with my daughter.
My love story with my wife is also a powerful pointing to the fact that as a member of His church we are the bridegroom of Christ. Marriage and parenthood are more powerful than a college degree, graduate degree or a million dollars in the bank. When country artist Linda Davis asked me about my graduate degree her question assumed I was going to make a lot of money. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of money, but if I’m not seeking Him first then I will be empty with anything else. The things of this world, suffering, success, affluence, comfort and narcissism will drag you away from God at the drop of a hat. You must be intentional about drawing close to Him because He does not force anyone to come to Him.
Jesus Calling is a good place to start.
Prayer, the book of Romans, finding a church family, getting involved there, forgiving those who have hurt you and forgiving yourself for not bringing your A-game are also wonderful ways to find Him.
You need Him. I need Him. I need Him more than this cup of coffee I’m drinking.
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.
You can have millions in the bank. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can thing you’re the bee’s knees, but if you don’t have Him you have nothing. You can have multiple graduate degrees, the ear of presidents and a private lear jet to travel anywhere in the world, but if you don’t have Him you have nothing.
Fear, anger and desperation run rampant in our world because we’ve made comfort, stability, money, sex, freedom to do whatever we want to do our gods. And we wonder why we aren’t satisfied. We are leaning our ladders against the wrong wall. It’s time to lean our ladder against the wall that won’t collapse.
Love is the single most important thing we bring to the table because God is love, and it was the driving force behind the single most important thing that was done in the coming of Christ to earth. Love does not condone bad behavior or sinful behavior, but it is also kind and gentle. It’s the most paradoxical aspect of life we put into practice. It is the greatest equalizer of bullies, terrorists, male chauvinist and female chauvinist pigs out there. When love fails, hate, bitterness, revenge and condemnation become reality. That is not what God had in mind when He put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. How appropriate that it was a garden where salvation began to come back into play at the betrayal of Jesus.
Jesus continues to amaze me in that He is God, but as a man I know that He was the son of man here on this earth, and every experience He went through I will eventually experience as well. I do not have a High Priest Who is unable to sympathize with my weakness, but I have One Who was tempted in every way without sinning.
And He did not stop there. He followed the Father’s plan to completion. He made the sale’s pitch, He bought it hook, line and sinker, and He continues to show me what it means to lean into that kind of life.
John 3.16 says God loves the whole world. It also says if we want to live forever we have to believe in Jesus.
Please put Jesus in your heart. Let Jesus and the Holy Spirit keep your heart soft. There is literally nothing you have done that will keep Jesus out of your heart and mind. He loves you. He loves me, and if we were the only two on planet earth He would still do what He’s already done.
Jesus take this heart of mine. Make it pure and only Yours. You have bled and died for me. I will always live for You.