It's been one heck of a week, the ebb and flow of events and emotions feeling like one of those go upside down roller coaster rides. I am sure you have also experienced one or two of those, but I will do my best to be brief here but also to be descriptive. First these words from our friend Matthew:
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house;
yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock!
Early in the week two of my closest friends lost family members, one a son that I had just spoken to a few days earlier. Another reminder how precious life is, but also a remembrance to me of what I had also lost. In each case, my heart hurt for these friends because I know the impact of their loss. My condolences to the families and friends in hopes that God will bring peace and serenity to their hearts.
Shortly thereafter I began to have symptoms of an injury I had suffered twenty years ago and for the sake of brevity and privacy, I will just call it the injury. One of the most well known doctors here in the Daphne/Mobile area gave me a plan through another friend how to deal with it. That was good, but I ended up in two emergency rooms that night primarily because there was not a specialist at the one, so I had to drive myself to the other at 11 PM after a five hour ordeal.
But during that time I made friends with the doctor on duty who had bought a car for his wife from us, and had the care of some extremely nice ER people. They told me this was a transfer and that at the second hospital I should be able to go right in for care. Sounds good, but upon arrival I saw 25 people in that ER who looked alot sicker than I and my thoughts were that this would be another long ordeal. Not so, they got me in within 10 minutes and immediately went to work to solve the problem,
There was the Nigerian doctor who spoke with me about buying a Land Cruiser from us and the beautiful African-American nurse who wanted to trade her Camry on another. All of this conversation while working on my injury and in fact they had to call in a specialist to deal with it, now at 1 AM. Turns out the specialist was the doctor my original friend had wanted me to see whose office told me I had to wait until August for an appointment, that was why I originally went to the ER. Do you see God working here?
An hour of much pain and diagnosis followed and at times the nurse had to hold my hands and comfort me that all would be okay. The specialist kept at his work despite my almost tearing off the railings of the hospital bed while he worked. But an amazing thing happened that I know you too may have drawn upon in your time of great stress.
My house of faith kicked in as the winds of pain were blowing. I thought, Jesus had to endure so much more pain for me than I am going through now and as if a shot of massive pain killers had been given me, all was calm, the pain was bearable. And the nurse and doctors commented how well I had endured that pain. Not me, but I Got By With A Little Help From My Friends.
In more ways than one, but mostly because God gave me so much comfort and courage in a time of great need. The night was surreal for me and the care I was given was beyond excellent. The injury will require more work after a temporary fix, but what I continue to be amazed by is that it seems that this faith we all talk about, read about and do our best to believe in is real, there is no doubt.
A friend asked me, "How much do you believe in God?" My answer, 100%. Yes indeed I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends!
We the People.......
So begins the Constitution of this great country we live in. I say great because if we were to start all over again in today's society, have a rebellion, a tea party so to speak, and fight against our oppressors, how would we start the new constitution? Maybe something like this...
We the people who are not quite sure who we are or what we believe in...............
Almost 250 years after being united in common purpose, spirit and a general commonality of faith, we come before God and each other very confused about what is truth? What can we say that won't be deemed critical of someone else's lifestyle? How do we protect our children from so many predators? Where is the love that can overcome hate? The takers seem to out number the givers, so who is really on the side of goodness?
I say great because our forefathers are why we have the freedom we have, and that not because we deserve it any more than a water starved tribe in Africa. Someone paid the price for that freedom and this Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on that considerable price. In blood, sweat and tears the ability to be free has been carved out of history and handed directly to you and me. The question is what shall we do with it now?
We the people who believe that God is our father, and Jesus is our redeemer...
Will understand that if we don't share the incredible joy of the Gospel of hope, the ability to experience cleansing and forgiveness, then our future shall not be so great. The only thing standing between total confusion of what freedom is and isn't is the voice of a reasonable and loving God who won't give up on us even if we give up on ourselves. It is up to us dear friends to never forget where we came from, how we got here, and who it was that released us from the chains of self destruction.
We The People...if we forget this will be nothing more than puppets on a string who cannot speak unless it is with someone else's voice. I say to all of us who have helped pay the price of freedom, or have been given numerous chances to get life right, don't sit back and be the silent majority but stand up to be the majority that is not silent!
We the people...must never forget that we are the people of an awesome God. The only real Bill of Rights that we have was tacked on to a cross at Calvary, and we must hold that truth to be self-evident!
Life has a way of not making sense some times. I remember reading the book Why Bad Things Happen To Good People"written by a Jewish rabbi whose son was suffering from a rapid aging disease. His conclusion, things just get ugly sometimes and happen to the just and the unjust, but in all cases our faith must pull us through. Listen to these words of Jesus:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
There are days where it seems nothing turns out right, and we wonder if we have done the right or wrong thing. There are days we have prayed and prayed, but it all went against us, and there are prolonged times when we wonder if God is even listening. The easy answer is that's life. And life on this planet is neither easy or promised to be safe.
The words above show that there will be trouble, and those words don't mean that God will always save us from it in the middle of what we are going through. When things get ugly, God wants us to turn to him for peace, calm in the middle of the storm, and to build our faith with him in the trenches of real life with its ups and downs. He is not there to prevent life, but to get us through it and to the right place in the end.
Through Him we can overcome anything but there are things such as death, consequences, divorce, life changing diseases (such as the rabbi's son who eventually passed away), and other things that happen that just happen. To think that God will bail us out of each situation, or correct everything is a hopeful dream not a real faith. Real faith is that somehow, despite any tragedy, it's all going to work for the good of those of us who serve Him.
Hard words to swallow, but truth. Truth is when it gets ugly, it may get uglier for awhile before God provides us with a way out or a healing. To understand that is what faith is all about, that through Him we can overcome anything. I know this first hand. Life punches you in the gut and takes your breath away momentarily. But just as quickly God breathes his grace and mercy into us so that we live to fight another day!
And when we get through the ugliness, the hurt and the pain, we become stronger to fight the battles of life ahead, led by the only one who has ever overcome the world!
This past week a good friend sent me a message and asked a great question that has had me thinking for the past few days. Always dangerous to get me thinking too much, but this was very compelling. Here was the text:
"The word for today is EDGE. It means you are no longer in the middle and no longer at the beginning. You are out of the comfort zone and on the edge of jumping off into an unknown but confident you are supposed to jump. What is your edge?"
The answer would not only vary from person to person but would also be misunderstood depending upon on one's audience. As examples the thrill seeking addicts we once were would always think that this meant to look for the next shot of adrenaline or something a lot stronger. To the womanizer or "man-izer", this might mean the next romantic conquest.
To the salesman, this might mean reaching an enormous sales goal, and to an achiever, this might mean more workouts, higher climbing, farther running, more acquisitions. But the question to us, those who have come to the Lord, those who have tried all those other things only to come up empty, is simply asking another question of God.
"Lord, what am I on the EDGE of?"
There are a lot of simple answers, but the more complicated ones need to be translated through prayer and meditation. Am I on the edge of doing something new for God? Am I on the edge of falling away in my faith? Am I supposed to be encouraging someone specific or a group that I am not doing now, and is that someone or group something that terrifies me?
Truth is if we were Christians back in the 1st century they were always Living On The Edge. The call of faith meant that you were tracked, hunted down, persecuted and stoned for your beliefs. Now we have freedom to find that edge because of the price that Jesus and the forefathers of our faith paid. They didn't need to ask because their destiny was to be martyrs of that faith.
So anytime we ask that question Lord what am I on the EDGE of? the first response must be that if I filter it through the will of God does it conflict with that or am I looking for the will of Glenn to be done? After that answer, it should be pretty easy to filter out the truth.
The real question is will we pay attention to the answer?
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.