Tag Archives: storms

As You Were: Remain IN GOD

I get so restless lately. And for me, maybe not everyone, but certainly for me, restlessness is akin to faithlessness or hopelessness. So my devotion this morning kicked me right in the stomach. 

“So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” I Corinthians 7:24

Paul is speaking to the church at a dizzying clip here. Sandwiched in between some fundamental principles on marriage and deeply challenging thoughts on singleness, Paul throws in our calling. It’s honestly a little confusing, because the illustration Paul uses for calling is NOT marriage. He uses enslavement and being bound to serving someone else. It’s not a pretty illustration at all, especially when commitments to marriage or singleness are such a seemingly easy segue to our calling in Christ. But no… slavery. 

But I do think that there is a subtle truth to be grasped for here: Sometimes that calling to Christ is not a pretty calling to paradise. We can be called to things or people or seasons of life that do not encourage. Or we can be called to Christ, but not out of the weird darkness we were facing the day before. 

I have been there. Following my last brain surgery in 2014, the cloud over my head and heart felt more real than anything else at the time. I was still called to be a pastor. Still a husband to a great wife. And within a few months of surgery, our son was going to be a big brother, so the call to fatherhood was obvious. But the cloud was all I saw. It was all I felt. If you’ve never experienced that, I don’t think I can explain it any better. There were lives being lived all around me, but I woke up every day to meet a cloud that would stay all day and keep me up all night. Sometimes I would panic, thinking I was done ever being productive again. Sometimes I would be so deeply sad that I felt unlovable and worthless… things I knew weren’t true. But that cloud was everywhere.

If you’ve ever been there or your are there right now, here’s the best advice I have: Keep getting up. Louie Giglio has a great book called The Comeback. Read it. And, as he instructs, find a song to sing in the darkness because if we can sing in the darkness, we can worship God anywhere.

But Why Slavery?

I like to think that if I was born in the 1800’s, I’d have been the white guy fighting against slavery in America. I’d like to think that I would see the evil for what it was and fight it. I’d be holding my Bible close, and doing whatever was appropriate to advance individual freedom and national emancipation. That’s what I like to think.

Because slavery is heinous. So when Paul tells a bondservant to remain in that place and to “not be concerned about it.” [I Cor. 7:21] I lose my lunch a little. Why would they stay in that place?? Why would God want that for them? What’s the point of remaining in an awful place?

Oh. Sometimes, you can’t get out. 

2014 was a painful year in my life. We bought a good house, had a beautiful son, started a new business using a talent I didn’t know I had, and ended up back in a familiar and encouraging place by year’s end… but there was that cloud. And I would love to tell you that God lifted it all at once or there was some grand miraculous thing that happened or that there was a turning point to the darkness, but that’s not true. It required a long, hard walk in an obedience that I often despised. It took a lot of people praying for me, even when I wasn’t praying very much myself. It took a good church. It took family. My wife was a rock. And all I could do was fall back to the basic things that I loved when I became a Christian. I read books I hadn’t opened in years, and I read them slower than I’d ever read in my adult life. But I read. Bonhoeffer and Sproul and Piper. And I sang old songs. I remember coming to Christ not long after hearing Jesus, Lover of My Soul, and I sang it to myself quite a few times during that darkness. And I talked to people when I could find the strength. No plan, just confessing my hurt and hopelessness. 

So Today, I’m Restless

Some people are called to hard things for their entire lives, but I don’t believe those places are intended to define us. The depression of 2014 does not define me. The comeback doesn’t either, but there was a comeback. I’m simply defined as a Christ follower. In the darkness, in the comeback, in the sadness, in the joy, at the pulpit, or in private… Jesus. Jesus and loving people. 

In my last blog, I talked about throwing darts and trying to maintain the hope of my calling in Christ to preach and teach and love people. And I’m still throwing darts. And I’m admittedly restless. I love being a pastor and I miss it. 

But in this place, there’s a memory of 2014 and that darkness. Keep calling on Christ. Read. Pray. Speak the truth of my heart to trusted people. Sing my song to God. Love my family. Above all else, remain IN God.

Maybe a lesson to learn from Paul’s writing here is that if we are married and happy, remain in God, if we are married and unhappy, remain in God. If we are single, remain in God. If we’ve lost the person we were walking through life with in marriage, remain in God. And yes, even if we are enslaved, to men or to darkness, remain in God. Because anyone can remain in God when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but can we lift our hands when the clouds begin to form?

Here’s a good reminder from Psalm 3:3-4…

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.”

Lift your head. Sing your song. Talk to someone you trust. Remain in God. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, depression, Discouraged, faith, Goals, Growth, Leadership, Ministry, Storm

Bad Weather, Beautiful Location

Location, location, location!! Right?

Well, what if there’s a hurricane at your location? I’m sitting on the front porch of a beach house in N. Myrtle Beach, typing to you, watching sideways rain (a la Forest Gump) under a canopy of grey skies… it ain’t beautiful by any stretch. But it’s the beach!

Yesterday I was in 4 1/2ft of water working on my 5yr old’s swimming excellence, covered in sunscreen, enjoying the beauty of true beach-living. Same place. Different weather.

Ain’t that life? Sometimes where we stand is all beautiful & easy to embrace. When Grace & I are communicating well, & my boys are happy, no one in my small group is suffering, & my folks have had a good week… that’s an embraceable scenario. And I do have those. And I thank God for my house & my city, my family & my church in those times. I celebrate the broken road that brought me here. All is well…

But then it rains. And when it rains, it pours. And sometimes the downpour comes with torrential patterns that knock me over. Strong winds from the wrong direction, hail that serves me no good & just messes things up, flash floods & blizzards… & if I pray… I’m not grateful. I’m mad. I’m doubting the Master’s plan. I’m on an island… a sad, desperate island where I get occasional deliveries of empathy, but not one solution dawns my door. God has forgotten me. And even taking my angst to social media is unfulfilling!! All is lost.

I do that. This is not a rant to bring conviction to someone else. This is not a, ‘I sure hope they read this’ kind of a thing. This is me. Forgetting that weather changes all the time. And that sometimes, forecasts are accurate. Sure, I get shocked by an occasional cloud or drought. But for the most part, the gray cloud coming my way means rain. And it’s on me if I ‘brave it’ & leave the umbrella at home.

But I’m at the beach. And Arthur, as formidable as he is today, has turned away from me. It’s been gross today. But our baby is sleeping. Our oldest needs my help with his computer game. I love my wife. I’m down here with my folks & sister. And God… Matthew 14:22-33 reveals some odd truths about our storms. I won’t get all preachy, which is my nature! But read it. And then read this… Jesus left them to be alone. He knew the storm was coming. And he… left them. And he went & prayed. And he knew the storm they were in. And then… wait for it… on the 4th watch, he came. The 4th watch!?! The fourth follows the first, second & third watches. And he waited through all of those. And then he just walked by. Didn’t announce his presence. He allowed them to get a glimpse of him, & he waited for their faith to provoke them to act. And yes, he saved them. But it wasn’t all on Jesus. It was about faithful people riding out a storm that hit while they were simply living out their lives. And Jesus even scolded them for not having more faith. And in the end, the storm was about worshipping Jesus. Not surviving. Not getting through. Not anything… just Jesus.

So here’s to your impending 4th Watch. I hope you’re near the end of your storm. And I hope you’ve got the faith & wherewithal to see The Lord as he passes by. He’s there. Maybe he’s praying. Maybe he’s watching you. Or maybe he’s waiting for you to step out & come to him. Either way, storm’s pass. And this is the beach…

3 Comments

Filed under Christianity, faith, Growth, Storm, Uncategorized