Wow! Would you just look at that view!! Looking at the above picture, if we were standing there with that view, the “awe” factor would set in. Many times when we see glimpses of God’s handy work, we share similar expressions. However, not all of God’s handy work is seen as an “awe” moment even though it is Him working.
Over the past few months, God has been doing some extremely obvious work, yet through the depth of pain. How do we decipher that our pain is a work of God? Why does pain have to be our motivator?
It began with a goodbye….from a new family I had grown to love and find a place within. Reality said that it couldn’t last do to circumstances neither party wanted to part from. A destiny that was only for a time; yet an experience that kindled a fire deep within. I never wanted to leave, yet I fought to accept the things to which I could not change. The courage to grow from the experiences to which I could; and the wisdom to know when to start a new chapter faithfully.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 NIV)
The desert moments tend to follow the feelings of loss. David experienced it a lot during much of his writing of Psalms. I went two months without a chance to preach; a time that had me questioning my calling again. Yet God, in His awesome way, opened multiple doors at different places that kept me busy for a month solid. It brought back the passion, it brought back the intensity I feel to share my Savior’s love, and it brought me a desire to do nothing else but serve Him full-time. The problem?? My interpretation of full-time service and His wasn’t the same. My desire has, is, and always will be to serve Him from a pulpit or within a ministry’s walls FULL-TIME. Again, the problem here is I already am in full-time ministry….I’m just not calling it that enough!
It was an interesting observation, when a friend told me that maybe God was already ready for me to serve Him full-time; it was ME who wasn’t ready for the service HE wanted me to do. Until I was content with when He was having me serve through Terminix, I wouldn’t be ready for what my heart desires! Something stuck….it’s was like my heart opened to the lives He has helped me affect in the past 3 years. It was then that David’s continual verses in Psalm 63 rang real in my heart:
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Psalm 63:2-5 NIV)
Since then life has been a roller coster ride. People I hardly know and people I’ve grown close to kept approaching me non-stop with heart wrenching stories and needs for prayer. So many I helped by praying, listening and empathizing; others I felt helpless except to just give them hugs. One customer greets me at the door with her eyes bloodshot and the glistening of tears at the corners of her eyes and says, “I lost my Gary!” I was in shock….and quickly felt my tarts well up and my heart sink. This was man that I enjoyed time with and they together brightened my service experience. I even had to treat his usable outhouse!! “Gotta keep them spiders from biting me in the (butt)!” he would say. And now, unexpectedly due to pneumonia and lung cancer undiagnosed, he is now dead.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT)
Interesting how these words now ring like an infinite-pulsating alarm that cannot be shut off! He and I at one time planned on having a “God discussion,” yet that never happened. Guilt and inferiority races through my mind as I let a good man go who was perfect for the Kingdom of Heaven. Was it my fault? Of course not! I know that God and he only know that, but it still bothered me! But alas, as God only does and does so well, this isn’t the end of His point to be made.
The next day, while pumping gas in my work truck, I received a call from another customer to whom I’m close with and she tearfully told me of her uncle Larry had passed away the night before; PLUS HER 8-year-old daughter had just got out of Riley Hospital for a mild heart attack!! Are you kidding me?? Another death of a close friend/customer and then a young girl with a HEART ATTACK??? What in the world is going on God??
Larry and I began our friendship with a duck. A beautiful white duck with a magnificent orange bill….that loved to follow me around. It was the most hilarious encounter to date; and because of that duck, Larry and I grew closer as friends. The knowledge of his sooner-than-expected passing sent my heart into a near state of shock. He was battling lung cancer and was last told he had less than a month to live from the original time of six months. He and I did begin the talk about Jesus and never got to finish. He expressed his desire to talk more and we stated we would….our next visit. That visit never happen.
It’s hard….not to take these losses of precious life to heart. If Christ is the center of my life, then why do I feel that these people I claim to hold close to my heart didn’t see enough of Him in me? Why didn’t I share more of Jesus with them to where I KNEW that they knew Him too? Why do we hesitate as Christians to share what we say we love so much? I cried so much the next full day.
All this added to the faith jolting that I’ve had following the journey of my new friend Brent from Nevada that was watching the unexpected life passing of his wife Jennifer occur. So much pain and so much redirecting; yet as stated before, God is showing us He’s in control! The observation of all this in my life was profoundly mimicked by my Sunday School lesson today from Romans 9:14-21:
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:14-21 NIV)
No matter what I want for my friends, my ministry, or my family; one thing is for certain, GOD IS IN CONTROL AND HIS PURPOSES ARE HIGHER THAN MY EXPECTATIONS! What are you observing right now that God is working you through? What is His next unexpected move gonna do to solidify your faith in His trust of your life?
Live like there is no tomorrow! Don’t let any other moment pass you by to share Jesus with someone! And believe that no matter what the unexpected will bring that He is drawing you closer to His glorified purpose….IF your faith will endure the sculpting!