Right now you may be experiencing the worst moments of your life. You are torn up inside from conflict, your body is physically sick, someone close to you has been lost, you have lost your job, you have no money, and your car won't start. You feel like no one understands you, no one loves you and your life doesn't matter. That's the bad news.
Hold that thought for a moment. The city of Lilburn made the Shell station take down the cross my son's friend had hand carved for him in remembrance of his death. My best friend here in Daphne and roommate has a rare form of prostate cancer. In the last month my house in Lilburn where Paul's wife lives with the kids has had a septic backup, the furnace went kaput, the side door started to leak and the attic has rodents running around chewing things up.
All of the above in addition to many friends I have who are struggling with health problems and life trials. To top it off I got vertigo a few weeks ago, and through sheer fatigue my body is in full rebellion. That's the bad news.
Here's the Good News: God has better news!
Paul's wife now has that cross that will be saved for generations to come, and so many others have called me remembering him and wondering where that cross went, that makes me feel very good. My friend, Casey and I and his girlfriend have been studying the Bible, talking about spiritual things and he has decided to give his life to the Lord and we will baptize him in the next few days. And, his cancer is curable. That is really Good News!
The septic lines have been cleared, the furnace is fixed, the new door is hung and the rodents are being removed. That's better news. All of this has helped me to start feeling better along with some great doctor's advice and care. Grief can become less, people can heal, lives can be changed, and things can be fixed. And those rodents who continue to chew up our joy can be exterminated. That's really Good News!
But here is the best news of all, if God chooses us and our situation to teach us something about faith, which he does frequently, and we are humble enough to pass it on to someone else, this world will have much more good news than bad news. And our greatest honor is that our lives will change to honor him in how we handle the bad news when it comes our way. People will notice.
That's really, really Good News!
As I walk out on the porch to a temperature swing of better than 40 degrees in less than a day, I stare across a golf course, a lake and miles of beautiful Alabama country woods after a night of near tornado conditions. I see nothing but evidence of the greatness of God's creation.
I see many wonderful joys he has blessed me with personally and I remember.
I remember back in 1992 having literally nothing to my name but a mattress. And I remember having that same feeling of security then that despite the conditions, God had my back. I remember just a few short months ago when I received the news of my son's death, the devastation, the total loss of joy, and I remember God riding in that car with me back to ATL.
Then as now, the same feeling hit me, He's Everywhere, no matter what circumstance we are in.
So often we talk to folks who feel lost, have little or no contact with the Lord, feeling hopeless, afraid and anxious about what comes next. The same news goes for them, He's Everywhere! Despite what looks bad, everything looks a whole lot better to Him. He can see our way out, He can see way beyond what our human, fallible minds can comprehend.
He knows we are human, we can have those feelings of anxiety and fear. But knowing that he is everywhere breeds confidence, that gives you hope that whether we have little or have much, we learn to be at peace with where we are even though we may be really hurting inside.
That confidence only continues to grow as we go through each valley of life with Him, only soon to be back on top of a mountain. Paul said it in scripture, David wrote about it in Psalm after Psalm, and I get it after seeing Him at work:
He's Everywhere....even though sometimes I am feeling nowhere!
Hope this one makes you think, and laugh a little as well.
Today I had to go to Kohl's in Daphne to get a pair of shoes and a shirt that I could not find when I was in ATL this past weekend. When I got back to the car, I put my I-phone down on the seat face up, and changed shoes. If you have one of these phones, you know it searches for a network wherever you are, and much to my surprise this is what popped up on the screen:
FBI Surveillance Van #2
Now, first of all, I looked around to see if I could see a strange looking van. Then I began to think how if they were doing under cover surveillance did they let this public message pop up? I laughed thinking this was not certainly real. But then a deeper meaning crossed my mind. Do we really understand that we are always under surveillance?
Maybe we think that the things we do in private will never be found out. Maybe we believe that we can be double minded, one way in private, another in public. But God always knows, he sees it all, so who do we think we are fooling? And sooner or later, family and friends can tell what reality is in our lives, and is it worth the deception?
And think of this fact that most people believe, what happens to our spouses, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who pass on? Do they become guardian angels who watch over us, and do they not see who we really are if they do? Quite simply, do we really understand how important it is to be who we really are to complete our mission here on earth as humans?
Not being perfect by any means but understanding that the surveillance cameras are always rolling on our lives and we never know who may be watching. When was the last time someone who you barely knew came up to you and paid you a compliment on something they saw you do that you thought no one noticed?
My point? Be the best person you can be, whether in private or public so that you never have to worry about being under surveillance! And, I will make sure I take my own advice, and not frequent that Kohl's parking lot too often.
In years gone by there have been times when all of us have had great faith in our abilities. Those who have great talent seem to have the hardest time letting go of control to find even the slightest bit of faith. Maybe we let go awhile, but we quickly seize back the initiative and do not give faith a chance to take hold.
This is where the real true undeniable God of total understanding comes in to view. He is the one whom we can have faith in who will lead us in directions we have never been able to go in or stay in once we got there. He is the answer to the question, "But if I believe, will I receive what I need?" If we have answered that question with our own solutions for an extended period of time, this is even more difficult to do.
Truth is, the road to faith is a long one, and filled with anxiety and doubt. Right now one of my best friends is battling the news of cancer and he fits totally in the aforementioned category because he has always been in control as a leader in our industry. The pain of having to let go to a God we are just learning about is almost as much as any disease we suffer from. The long road to faith is filled with barriers, bad weather and well intended promises that go astray when things clear up.
It seems for some of us that God has to have us up against the wall before we surrender control and begin to have faith!
Now the good news. There are a whole bunch of us real live folks and biblical characters who have struggled with this and eventually found our way to the foot of the cross. The road of faith leads to Calvary, but if we go back in time and trace the walk of Jesus from the beginning of carrying his cross to its final destination, we see him strong, we see him stumble, and we see him need help to get there,
Take heart, we need some humans, their touch, their words, their prayers, and sometimes even carrying our cross for us until we are able to walk on our own. I can rattle them off, Peter, Paul, the woman at the well, the leper who sat by the water, the apostles who doubted Jesus could feed 5000, should I go on?
Yes I will. I will go on this long road of faith with my friend for as long as he needs me too, and we should go on this road with others who are struggling to get where they need to be. Why? Because the end result if they make it to faith is that another lost sheep comes home, another prodigal son re-unites with his father, another broken person is healed by the grace of God.
It's a long road to find faith, but there is a highway to heaven at the end of it!
Wednesday, after experiencing vertigo symptoms and being told I may need a Catscan, I went to the ER at Thomas Medical Center in Fairhope, AL. For reasons we still can't understand it took over 6 hours until they gave me the scan and before I saw a doctor. Scan clear, got some meds for the vertigo, but my first 2016 resolution:
Never go back to Thomas Medical Center ER!
While spending that 6 hours in ER, I got to share my experience as a Marine with the Dad of a 4 year Afghanistan Marine vet. And then I got to share my faith and response to faith in crisis with my best friend and roommate here who is going through an intense physical and spiritual struggle himself. New Years resolution:
Go back to Thomas Medical Center but bring a bible next time for several reasons!
Our tendency is to think that when things don't work out the way we want, we won't do them again, unless there is a great reward to try again. If we look at it from an earthly perspective, it may look like a hopeless cause, but if we look through the eyes of God, he may have a purpose for our inconvenience. In fact it may be part of our 2016 resolution:
Use any inconvenience for me as a convenience for the Lord!
In that way, we may have some small idea what the apostles had to face to spread the faith. It would also give us a minor feeling of what our modern day missionaries deal with as they go to far away places to serve. It may also teach us that what is important to a Christian, if we are truly serving, is not how we are treated, but how we treat others as ambassadors of Christ. New Years resolution:
A requirement for serving the Lord is learning how to be inconvenienced!
Yes, it can be joyful to spread the message of faith, but the moments that we have that opportunity may happen in the strangest scenarios. Over the years I have learned this, but it is easy to focus only on the here and now rather than what could be, and we tend to conveniently forget.
My last resolution: Remember that the purpose of me now, is to be the purpose of Him!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.