One Nation, Divided – Part 2…Crooked Sticks and Straight Lines.

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God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.

You may have heard this statement in a sermon or seen it somewhere online attributed to the likes of Martin Luther or Thomas Watson.  Regardless of its origin (my google research could not pinpoint it sadly), it is both a humbling and hopeful statement. Let’s break down the statement in order to see how powerful a statement it really is.

  1. God  –  the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe.  The Faithful, covenant-keeping, Sovereign, doesn’t need anything or anybody, supremely Holy, incomparably Perfect, Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-Wise deity of the Old and New  Testaments.
  2. Uses – chooses to involve in His plans.
  3. Crooked Sticks – broken, deeply flawed, raggedy, undeserving men and women.
  4. To make straight lines – to accomplish His unchanging, unfailing purposes for the sake of His glory (His renown and fame) and good of His people.

Let that sink in deeply…

This isn’t some pithy, feel-good statement, this notion is found inside and outside of the Bible.   Don’t believe me? Read the Biblical accounts of:

  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Saul
  • David
  • Cyrus
  • Nebuchadnezzar
  • Isaiah
  • Jonah
  • The Disciples
  • Judas
  • Paul

This is in no way a comprehensive list, but a sample of names to highlight my point.  There has never been a time in history, outside of Jesus, where God did not use woefully broken men and women.  The truth is, “God uses broken people because broken people are all there are.” – T. Tchividjian

If you’re familiar with the Bible, you know most of these guys are legends. You also know that some of these guys directly opposed and often tried to the thwart the plans and purposes of God, yet to no avail. However, in His wise providence, God used these men in one way or another to accomplish the very things they were trying to stop.

The Problem

This election cycle, two crooked sticks ran for President of the United States.   People on both sides were desperately trying to convince the country of two things: 1) Their crooked stick wasn’t that crooked; 2) The other crooked stick was way more crooked than what met the eye.  This election was no different from any other election in the sense that there was no perfect candidate (as if there ever was or ever will be). However, this election was different in the sense that it wasn’t just about two different philosophical political ideologies, this election had an additional element; fear. As Greg Popovich, the rich white (self-described) Head Coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs (which I hope the Lakers beat every single time this year) frustratingly stated,

“I’m just sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all of the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” (Source: mysanantonio.com)

He went on to say how Donald Trump used fear mongering and race baiting rhetoric from day one trying to delegitimize the presidency of the nation’s first black President, Barack Obama.  I am fully on board with Pop’s comments and where I resonated with him most was regarding his feelings of shock and awe surrounding the loud declaration and silent affirmation of most of the Evangelical Church, especially those brothers and sisters of a lighter hue.  I can’t tell you how many posts I read this election cycle from followers of Christ who blatantly diminished or silently ignored the abominable words and actions of Donald Trump.  Time after time, people pointed to the Bible and abused the notion that “God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.” Time after time, people celebrated DJT’s business accomplishments while glossing over his moral failures.  Oddly enough, a former college mate and fellow african-american made the claim that, “Our God can do more through a King Cyrus (Trump) than He can with a Jezebel (Clinton). Think about it…” Not only is this bad exegesis, but it is symptomatic of a larger issue within the Church of America.  While God did use Cyrus and while Jezebel was a terrible woman, there is no way anyone can justify parading and celebrating DJT as the Church’s “vote” just as much as Israel should not celebrate Cyrus as a man of God.

Let me go on record (again) and state that this is not a pro-Clinton post. In fact, I chose to write-in another crooked stick due to my lack of trust and disgust with the two main candidates.

The point I want to make is that because God uses crooked sticks, it does not mean every crooked stick is for Him and the Church especially would do well not to pledge their allegiance to the Cyruses of this world regardless of what we “think” they might do.  God uses crooked sticks, but we must never excuse or ignore how crooked the sticks really are.  This election cycle revealed just how far the Evangelical Church (and more specifically the 80% of white evangelicals who willfully chose DJT, celebrated him, and called him God’s answer) would go for the preservation of itself and/or America (those two are used interchangeably these days unfortunately).  Some will argue and say they voted for a platform, not a person.  My retort is that this election was much more than perpetuating a particular political platform.  This election was the Church’s opportunity to choose people over politics and I fully believe this was not the case for almost 60% of Protestants in general and 80% of white evangelicals.

There were other options.  There are always other options.

I know what some may be thinking at this point, well geez Terry, no one would ever be fit for the Office of President following your train of thought.  I keep going back to my statement that this was not a normal election.  The aftermath of riots and violence (perpetuated by both sides no less) proves that.  The Trump era has kicked off with a bang and not in a good way and the Church has to take responsibility for it.  A friend and fellow Pastor eloquently summarized Part 1 of this series by stating this isn’t about guilt, but responsibility.  Thanks, Steve.  The choice was made and now we must grapple with the consequences that are a direct result of that choice.

Why I’m Hopeful

We have no idea what the future holds for this country or any other country for that matter.  I am choosing personally, not to worry or to be afraid according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-34.  I am choosing to hope rather than despair as Paul encourages believers in Romans 8:28-39.  Ultimately, I am hopeful because God has used crooked sticks before,  like the men listed above, and He can certainly use President-elect Donald J. Trump if He chooses.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there was one name left off of the list above purposely and not because it doesn’t belong there; it most certainly does.  God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines and I more than anyone know that to be true because for some odd reason, He still chooses to use me.

Hoping in Christ,

Terry

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Dear Bathsheba…

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Source: http://oldandnewproject.com

Dear Bathsheba,

I thought I knew your story, until I read your story.  I had heard your story my whole life but I never took the time to fully read and comprehend your story. For that I am sorry.  I am sorry because having finally read your story, I realize that we have treated you unfairly. We have painted a portrait of you that bears no resemblance. We have called you “the adulteress”, “the harlot”, “the seductress”, “immodest” and a host of other erroneous descriptions that do not fit you or tell your story correctly.

I cannot even imagine how you felt the night everything changed.  How were you supposed to know the King was even home when he was supposed to be at war (2 Samuel 11:1)? For the record, I have no reason to believe that you did anything to elicit his attention that night.  You were and are a victim of abuse at the hands of someone you thought you would be able to trust. A man you thought had more respect for himself, his people, even one of his own mighty men Uriah (2 Samuel 23:39), and his God. Who knew that the man after God’s own heart would squeeze God out in order to take advantage of his position and power just to spend a few moments with you? Yet, that is exactly what happened. You were violated, you were raped, then, to cover up his dirt, this same man had your husband killed and was the cause of your baby’s death.

One impulsive, lustful act transformed you from being a law abiding woman (2 Samuel 11:4) into a wounded widow who eventually became another fixture in the King’s long list of wives. You did not deserve that and you do not deserve to be treated like we have done throughout history via Sunday school stories, sermons, works of art, film or any other medium. We owe you a huge apology and I personally want to admit my guilt in having believed (in ignorance) a lie.

Your story is a far too common story and it should not and does not have to be that way. You too bear the image of our Creator and should be regarded just as precious as anyone else. Especially, from those of us who have been given the charge to lead. You are not a second-class citizen of the Universe. You are not collateral and you are not property. You are a woman, created and loved by God for his eternal purpose.

My intent in this letter then is threefold: 1) to apologize for how we have treated you and your story and for allowing David’s “greatness” to overshadow his sinfulness; 2) to affirm your value and your worth as an image bearer of God; and 3) to accentuate the fact that your life did not end that night.

You may feel as if you have nothing else to live for. You may feel that the wound is too deep and the scars to visible. You may feel less than because of what happened to you.  You may question and doubt the goodness of God. Besides, how could a good God allow this to happen to you? You may feel like your life as you know it is over. You may feel like life is not worth living. You may feel like you can never love or be loved again. You may feel like you are alone. You may feel like no one cares about your pain and your hurt. You may feel like there is no justice for Bathsheba. You may feel like it was your fault for taking a bath that night. You may feel that this is all your fault and that you deserved all of it.

I plead with you to not believe the lies and fight through the doubt.  You are not less than, you are a daughter of the Creator of the Universe. You are not alone; we see you and stand with you (I am not the only one who feels this way and acknowledge the others who share my feelings). There is a countless number of people who know your pain (experientially) and feel your pain (compassionately).  It is not your fault, none of it.  I do not know why God allowed it to happen to you, but I can say that God has a way of turning tragedy into triumph.  I say that not to downplay or trivialize your experience, but to offer you hope. Your life didn’t end that night. David did not put the final punctuation mark on your life when he hurt you. He is but a man, but God is one with the pen in his hand and I can assure you that the night you were raped, that was not the end of your sentence.  In fact, this is truly how the sentence of your life reads, “And on that night Bathsheba was raped, but God.”

Who knows what will happen next?  Perhaps you will get the justice you deserve.  Perhaps, you will continue to trust God in and with your time of grief and healing . Perhaps, God will use your story to show others His goodness despite the tragic circumstances they face. Perhaps, God will even use you to usher in a greater a Kingdom; a Kingdom with no end.  I can see it now, “Bathsheba, the great-great-great-great-great…grandmother of the King of Kings!”

Hold on to life, hold on to God. It won’t always be like this.

Sincerely,

Terry

God Will Judge with Equity

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Rainbow Bridge – Odaiba Island – Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Kon ni chi wa (Hello!) from Tokyo, Japan.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would visit this country, but I’m here anyways and it is fantastic.  However, Tokyo isn’t the main subject of this post (I’ll do a full post of our adventures some other time).

Being in a far away, foreign land isn’t as bad as I imagine it was “back in the day”.  In fact today, with the presence of social media (and healthy wi-fi) you really don’t have to miss a beat. Since being in Tokyo, we typically end the night going through photos taken throughout the day and maybe catching up on things back home.  Social media then, has been a gift because we are able to keep up with all sorts of cool things taking place across the water.  However, the flip side is that because of social media we get to see all of the terribly dark and horrific things taking place back home as well.

With all of the election drama going on and starting (but not yet finishing) the new portrayal of “Roots”, I was actually glad to be able to get away from the States for a bit. As a result, being in Tokyo has been the reinforcement I needed to remind me that the world is much bigger than the US and in the grand scheme of things, our problems, my problems are but a blip on the global radar. Yet still, because of the pull of social media and my (sometimes unhealthy) attraction to it, I can’t help but to have one eye on the amazing sights here and another on my home country.

As I lay on this Shiki futon in Tokyo while dark clouds have formed and are about to bring forth seasonal rainfall, a dark cloud hangs over my home country. Sadly, these days this is a recurring theme.  Once again the nation is hurting, families are hurting.  Once again, there is this thunderous sound of voices all jockeying for position to be heard.  There are no shortages of commentary and opinions on the recent events in Orlando and other headlines. People are talking, people are arguing, people are asking questions, people are providing “answers”; everyone has something to say.  The temptation for me is to throw my voice in the imaginary ring and vie for a space and opportunity to be heard.  Yet, I fight to restrain myself and refrain from being a part of the noise especially in times like these.

Contrary to popular belief and practice, in times like these it’s all the more important for us to be:

“…quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

Why?

“For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)

Instead, I will simply remind you of what my wife and I were reminded of this morning as we read a chapter from the Psalms.  At the end of day, when we don’t have the words to say or when there are too many words being said, we ought to take a step back and hear the voice of God.  When all other voices become clanging cymbals and when all other voices eventually fade out (until the next “big thing”), God’s Word will remain faithful and true; it (nor He) never fails. Listen to this:

We give thanks to you, O God;
    we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

“At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”

For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
    with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
    and all the wicked of the earth
    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will declare it forever;
    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up. – Psalm 75 (ESV)

May His words (Word) be the foundation upon which you stand.  May they fill you with hope and peace. And finally, may they even be the basis for the words you choose to speak and the life you choose to live. For Christ’s sake, amen.

Listening to and for Him,

T.

 

 

Let Us Pray…

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“Prayer is our Christian duty. It is an expression of submission to God and dependence upon Him. For that matter, prayer is arguably the most objective measurement of our dependence upon God. Think of it this way. The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own.” – H.B. Charles

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say my prayer life needs some work; like a lot.  If I am alone, then well, that sucks.  At any rate, I was driving to my hotel after work (out of town) and I may or may not have come across some Facebook posts while in traffic and something (OK, the Holy Spirit) struck me.  Most of us are guilty of posting and expressing our emotions (for better or for worse) on social media in an effort to release and reach out for the attention of others (for better or for worse), yet there is a far better medium/platform in which to do so. This medium/platform however, isn’t for the masses or seeks the attention of many, it is for an audience of One.  I am talking about prayer. If you’re like me this was an “oh yeah” moment. You see, prayer is that thing most of us turn to as a last resort and even then we do so hesitantly and/or frustratingly.  Rhetorically, what if prayer wasn’t designed as a last resort?  What if instead of releasing and expressing our emotions publicly (on social media mainly), we expressed ourselves to the One who is always present, always listening, always active and never-failing.  When I read through the Psalms, this is what the likes of King David and others did throughout their lives.  Though used in public and private settings, the Psalms often contain prayer language directed toward Yahweh.

Could it be that the ills and frustrations of life weigh us down so much because we choose to talk to everyone else about are problems except God?  Could it be that the reason we experience little to no peace in our circumstances is because we have left out the One who is our Peace?  Could it be that prayer is just not asking God for stuff, but more of an ongoing conversation between a loving Father and an ultra-dependent child?  Could it be that our first response (joyful or mournful) ought to be to fall on our knees in prayer instead of our final response?

I know for many of us that our prayer life isn’t where it could be due to distractions (sinful and not sinful) and we are due for a much needed prayer overhaul.  If you are like me, you probably don’t need to buy or read another book on prayer although books on the subject have proven to be useful.  If you are like me, you don’t need to look up anymore famous quotes on prayer to be inspired.  If you are like me, neglect in prayer is probably due to a neglect of Scripture that teaches and admonishes us to pray.  So don’t take my word for it, here is is what the Bible says (emphasis mine):

  • 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. – Romans 12:10-13
  • 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –  Phil 4:6-7
  • 8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. – Psalm 62:8

There are countless other passages on prayer and even entire teachings of Jesus devoted to prayer  like in Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13.  The point is to let life’s circumstances fuel your prayer life and even more than that, allow Scripture to fuel your prayer life.  If you are like me, you just need to pray.  There is really no excuse for any of us and we are the ultimate losers because we miss out on fellowship with God and the peace He promises to give.

So since we live in a world of #(insert)challenge‘s, I challenge all of us to pull away from the enter/send/post button and draw near to The “present help in time of trouble (and victory)”. #LetUsPray

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

– Joseph Scriven

In Christ,

Terry

 

Real Hope for Real Grief (Part 1)

Every day we are faced with the reality that people die.  I know that’s probably not a good way to start off a post, but I have to believe that the best way of dealing with reality (bad, good or indifferent) is to face it head on.  So this post is my attempt to go right at it…

The Lie

I have become increasingly disheartened as of late with how people respond to the death of others; whether it be those of a “high-profile” nature or close family members whom the majority of the world never knew existed. I have found that the common coping mechanism used to combat death is false hope.  Here are a few phrases that have become increasingly popular these days:

“I now have a guardian angel (insert deceased person’s name) to watch over me.”

“God must have needed an angel.”

“He/she is in a better place now (regardless of how the person lived).”

“He/she left such a lasting legacy of good words and deeds, surely our lost and heaven’s gain.”

The list goes on…

However comforting or soothing these words sound, they are (for the most part save the third one) built on lies and unfounded in Holy Scripture.  At best, they can only provide false hope.  That’s not the worse part though; the worst part is that as I scroll down my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, these words emanate from the hands and mouths of professing Christians.  Christians who have the very words of God near them.  Christians who claim to have the Spirit of God in them.  Christians who pledge their allegiance to the One whom declared Himself to be (and rightfully so) the Truth (John 14:6).  Yet, perpetuate lies that may temporarily ease the pain caused by grief and loss.  It is evidenced by statements like these that many ignore sound doctrine or aren’t being exposed to it as they should.  As a Pastor, it pains me.  It pains me that instead of offering and communicating true hope in Christ, we settle for lies; lies that do more damage than good.

So then, it is my responsibility as a Pastor and brother in Christ to point to the truth.  To find this truth, I turn to the one place where the truth remains unchanged; the Bible.

The Truth

In a world where we experience gut-wrenching pain of loss and grief, we find these words in Scripture:

13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep throughJesus. 15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord:We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourageone another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, HCSB)

It was the Apostle Paul who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit penned these words.  He was writing to a church that had experienced great loss, yet did not know how to cope with the reality that the loved ones who once lived among them were no longer physically with them.  Although they may have believed in the coming of the Lord, they thought those that died before the great Day were hopeless.  It was obvious that this young church was in a vulnerable state and possibly (if not probably) under the influence of false teaching about death and the “afterlife”.  Paul writes this letter not only counter the lies that were being fed and digested, but to provide real, life-giving hope; the hope of Christ.

Friends, I cannot stress this thought enough.  Wherever we find ourselves searching and in need of hope (in life or the reality of death), we must always return to Christ. For He is our hope! He is our life! (Colossians 3:1-4).

This is what Paul did in this letter (and the aim of this post), he pointed his readers back to Christ.  As such, there are four truths that I see in the aforementioned passage:

  1. Death is real
  2. Grief is real
  3. Hope is real
  4. Comfort is available

Death is Real

Paul in this letter wanted the church of Thessalonica to know that death is a reality. A reality that many people have faced and will face. Death is the climax of an earthly life. It should not be something we try to escape or try to cheat because it is a natural part of our earthly existence. It doesn’t matter if you grew up in the projects or penthouse, death is the great equalizer. Job fell down and worshipped in Job 1:21 saying,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life.

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of LORD.”

Should Jesus delay His return, all of us at some point will have to come by this way. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed (by God) for people to die once – after this, judgment…”

Death is a part of God’s plan of redemption, though we may not always understand it, we must be aware that it is a reality and our lives should be governed in such that we would be ready to meet our Creator should death coming knocking at the door.

Grief is Real

Paul not only stated that death is a reality, he also acknowledged that grief is appropriate. He told the church that it is ok to grieve, it is ok to mourn. They are natural responses to the reality of the loss suffered. It is not Un-Christian to feel pain and sadness during the loss of a loved one. However, he said something very crucial in the latter part of verse 13. He said, it is ok to grieve so long as you do not grieve as the world grieves; without hope.   He wanted them to be aware that although grief is natural and is common to every man, what sets the Christian apart is that when we grieve, it is accompanied by hope.

Hope is Real

Hope is one of those words that can often be misunderstood and misused. To Paul’s audience and for us today, the word simply means “the desire of some good with the expectation of obtaining it.”

Paul wanted to the Christians in Thessalonica to know that even in the midst of pain, even in the midst of loss, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of tears that there is “some good” that our hearts can yearn for and can “expect” to obtain; that is eternal life in Christ.

You see they thought that at the point a person died, the deceased would miss out on the blessing of Jesus’ return. They thought death was final. They thought death was it. And if that were the case, I could see how they could hope-less. But not so for the Christian.   In fact, death is something God uses to usher us into eternal life. Paul takes it step further and says, that our loved ones who die in the Lord, their bodies are merely “asleep.” Waiting for the cry of command, the voice of the archangel and the sound of the trumpet of God. Waiting for Jesus himself to come and raise them up and clothe them with bodies that will never grow old, hearts that will never fail, imperishable, perfect bodies.

You may be asking how that is possible?

It is possible because Jesus died, to cleanse us from sin; to take our punishment. But He rose again, so that He might defeat death. He rose again so that death would not be the end. He rose again so that He could give us eternal life. That as Paul put it in 1 Cor. 15:54-55:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”

The hope we can have in the midst of grief is that even in death, we have victory in Jesus. He is our champion, he holds the key to life and death and has promised that if we trust Him, we will live even if we die. He’s coming back one day and all of us who have trusted Him will meet and greet in Him in the air.  It reminds me of the old Bill Gaither song,

Because He lives, we can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because we know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because he lives!

Comfort is Real

Paul concluded this section by admonishing his readers to comfort one another with these words.  Why would he say this?  Because these words are true.  The promise of Jesus’ return is real.  God is faithful; which means “God will always do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised” (Wayne Grudem).  There is hope; for the Christian.  True strength is not found in fantasy or fairy tales, but in the truth of God and hope of Christ.

What shall we do with this then?  I believe their are two appropriate responses:

1) Spread the Gospel and the Gospel alone. For it is the Gospel that points us to our only hope in this world and the world to come; Jesus Christ.

2) Rejoice in knowing that those who have died “in Christ” are not lost, but are merely sleeping. Their hope is our hope; Christ and Christ alone.

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Embracing Overwhelmed-ness

First off, I’m not sure overwhelmed-ness is a real word but I am rolling with it.

Like most people I go through seasons where everything is going smoothly; work (auditing) isn’t too hectic, ministry is clicking on all cylinders (for lack of a better phrase), relationships aren’t too dysfunctional and I am tiptoeing through the tulips. Then there are times when I wonder why my employers even hired me? Why would God call me to Pastor? Why would these people let me Pastor them? Who decided down is up and up is down and left me out of the loop? Why aren’t there more hours in the day? Why is my metabolism working at a snail’s pace? Why is everyone enjoying relationships except me? Why am I so overwhelmed?

As of today, I’m not sure if I am going into the latter season or coming out of it, but I sense something. I may even be right in the middle of that season; in fact, I know I am. I am overwhelmed. Yes, I just full on processed my feelings in the middle of writing this.

So yesterday I drove from San Diego to La Mirada and back to San Diego in a matter of six hours for two of my jobs. I know that sounds crazy, but this is my life. I’ve done it plenty of times, but yesterday the thought of it made me feel anxious, slightly depressed and angry. I wasn’t so much upset at the fact that I have multiple jobs, but simply because it was just bad timing. There is so much going on – on one hand, and not so much on the other hand, but I’m still required to do both.   Yesterday, however, it really got to me and in my massive amounts of alone time in the car, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages:

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” (Psalms 61:1-8 KJV)

For the sake of this post and for the rest of this post I want to draw attention to the first four verses which end at “Selah”.

This is a Psalm of David that focuses on having and finding security in God (as noted by the heading in the HCSB translation). My aim is not to fully exegete this text, but to share how it ministered to me yesterday. As I read it multiple times and read multiple translations I kept being drawn to the word “when” in verse two. I’m not so sure that David’s heart was overwhelmed or weary or faint (words used in the different translations) at the time he wrote this. I honestly believe that he was stating a fact that there were times in his life when that was his reality and when it was, he wanted to be pointed or led to or directed to the One that he could lean on. Yes, David knew and understood that sometimes life can happen in such a way that it causes one’s heart to become weary, faint, overwhelmed or just plain weak.

It happens. It is natural. This is mankind’s plight.

In a fallen, broken world, everything is not going to go smoothly all the time. Everything is not going to go as planned all the time. There are going to be times when we are rendered powerless and confronted with our finite-ness, and that is ok.

I realized yesterday that I was beating myself up because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed as if being overwhelmed is a bad thing, or, as if I have total control over my life. Pride is so deceitful. Often times when I am overwhelmed by either throw on my superman cape and try to do everything on my own, or I become paralyzed and do nothing until the storm blows over. Both of which are terrible responses because in each case I end up handling things my way, in my strength, using my logic. Instead of being proactive like David, often times I finally turn to God when I am burned out and/or the poop has hit the fan. That’s not a good way to live and that is not the life God wants for me.

So today, I am embracing the possibility and the reality of being overwhelmed. Instead of waiting until the last-minute I am praying that in this moment and in those moments, God would continue to draw me to Himself and that He would give me the courage to rely on Him, the One, the Rock who is higher than I.

I can do this because I know from past experience, as did David, that He always delivers. He always shelters. In Him there is security. He never fails.

Selah.

Leaning on Him,

Terry

Lead Me to the Rock

Ps.  I absolutely believe we can be overwhelmed by things that are foolish and unhealthy.  This post does not speak to those things although I do firmly believe that even in those situations God invites us to Himself.