I went to bed last night and woke up this morning feeling some bitterness and “I don’t understandness” creeping back in my heart. I did think about emailing a mentor to “vent” those feelings in the hopes she would console me and give me words of wisdom. I realized thought, there is no conversation I can have with someone that can give me the comfort that praying on my knees can. There is no person to turn to right now that can wrap their arms around me and make me feel better like my Father in heaven can. He is who I need to be turning to. Is He not faithful to deliver that? He is! Every time! Is He not merciful enough to take away my anger and hurt and bitterness? He is! Every time! So instead of calling someone, I went to the text, after I went to my Father on my knees praising Him for what He was about to deliver. Instead of just asking for an answer and asking for comfort I was able to praise Him and thank Him for the answer and comfort He was about to give me! By His grace, I was also able to see my flesh and my disobedience by letting frustration and bitterness and anxiousness come into my heart. Be anxious for NOTHING, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you request be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7. That is exactly what I need; His peace to guard my heart.
I picked up in my Old Testament study and immediately saw where I thought my focus needed to be. May the Lord, the God of the spirit of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd. Numbers 27:16-17. I need to be praying for the man that God is preparing to come be our new shepherd at our church. I need to be praying for the current pastors we have who are stepping up in a more visible role as shepherds and teachers. I need to be praying for my heart to be open and inviting to whoever our new server of God’s Word is so he doesn’t feel like he has shoes to fill that are too big. But then…
He saw a large crowd and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34. We have a shepherd! We have THE Shepherd! He is Emmanuel, He is WITH US. He will and can teach us and change us and grow us as we go to His Word, whether it is on a Sunday or a Tuesday, whether it is by a visiting pastor or a new teaching pastor, God is with us! We are NOT without a Shepherd. We are not without earthly shepherds either. We have the gift of multiple, capable, humble, pastors in our church who are doing just that. The sermon last Sunday was POWERFUL and delivered by a man God used to give us what we needed after a week of goodbyes. He gave us assurance that we WILL receive the Word of God and we WILL receive the gospel message every week. God delivered in a mighty way as we wondered, “what’s next?” They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. Ezeckial 34:5. This is NOT us. Satan wants to scatter us, He wants to devour us. He wants to use the words of others to confuse us. Our Shepherd has not left us. We have faith in the Son of God and He is leading us beside quiet waters. He is guiding us in the paths of righteousness.
Those first lessons when I go to God’s Word are good, but there is usually something more to be done, pruning and refining that isn’t on the surface. As I was led to Job 1:21 I was thinking of the gift I had been given and how that gift had been taken away. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Bless be the name of the Lord. That sums up what I need to wash over my heart. God decides when and what and who and how He gives us blessings. When those are taken away His name is still Lord. Bless be the name of the Lord! We deserve none of the gifts we receive. Yet our cup OVERFLOWS with them. We have been given the gift of eternity! We have been given the gift of a relationship with God! We have been given the gift of His Word, and His presence as we pray and get to know Him through His perfect manuscript. This trial I find myself in needs perspective. This trial of losing a faithful, passionate, gospel-teaching, brother and friend in Christ needs perspective. I in no way want to downplay the loss because I would never want to downplay the powerful ministry and way in which God has used this man in our church and in my life. I am hurting over this loss. I only want to highlight perspective. I was able to have this gift. Though only for a few short years, I still had it. Let him go be a gift to others. This trial needs perspective. There is a young girl in our church who has been diagnosed with cancer for a second time after a year of remission. She is singing God’s praises. My trial needs perspective. I am reminded after an email this morning, there are men in prison, dying from their sin, who have family, who are torn apart, who feel as if no one sees their worth. Our trial needs perspective. There are Christians dying, because they are Christians. They do not back down for one second in their faith and proclaiming Jesus as their Lord. My trial needs perspective. We go to an air conditioned beautiful church. We have faithful God honoring men leading us. We have a community of believers surrounding us. We have any avenue we can think of to dig deep into His Word with fellow believers; Women’s Bible study, MOMS, Lifegroups, Men’s Institute, classes offered for training in Evangelism, Discipling, Soul Care, Well Conferences, we are surrounded by solid teaching and ways to learn and grow. OUR CUP OVERFLOWS with ways God wants to teach us and speak to us through these ministries and teachers. My trial needs perspective and I need to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called as Ephesians 4:1 tells us. We are called to make disciples and be followers of Christ. We are not called to just sit in church and listen to a great pastor. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10. Let’s serve one another with zeal! Let’s serve our church and our community as the City on a Hill that God put us here to be. I love you friends. I love this church. God is Emmanuel and He IS with us!