But when it comes to those one-on-one moments, I find myself the most upset. One of the worst culprits is the telephone and being in a store, at the register, and having to wait for a phone call. THAT is really frustrating. Here I am, trying to spend my money and no! Wait! Even worse is having an appointment and having it interrupted. I tell people who meet with me it has to be family for me to pick up the phone when I have an appointment - this is their time.
During many days of the valley of suck with Heather, as she declined in health, all I could do was listen. And I too needed friends who would do just that: listen. I guess that has been kind of a theme for me only because I’ve learned it is so important. And, it is important for me to say this: God is listening.
You do not have to plow your way through these. They do not contain incantations to gain special privileges from God. Just because someone gives you one for a gift, it does not mean you HAVE to use it now. Just because you have used it in the past, does not mean you need to use it NOW.
What may be the case, is that God is pointing you a different direction. Maybe you need to look for a different devotional you have not read. Maybe it is simply a book you’re being led to read alongside scripture and prayer. Maybe you just need to read from a favorite book of the Bible, drink coffee, and say, “thanks, God.”
It is so hard to hear and see people on their journey of faith come into contact with people and pastors who narrow down faith into such simplistic terms. Put in the right ingredients, bake at 350, and out will come your perfect Christian life. Tell me again which of the twelve disciples got out without suffering (and don’t say John - he was in exile, not retirement)?
I didn’t enter ordained ministry with debt so as to embarrass myself but my wife and I believed God called us to plant a church and do you know what happened? In the end, we lost all of our financial savings, our house, and barely kept our vehicles and home furnishings. We nearly declared bankruptcy. I had my first panic attack and suffered from migraines and depression. I DID dream a big dream and we needed God to show up (and I would do it all again)!
Then came another appointment to a new church and with it, the anticipation of God doing something new in our lives. It was new alright, just nothing close to what we expected. Just 4 months into being at BUMC, Heather was diagnosed with colon cancer and 20 months later she was gone from our world. The only way to get through this is for God to show up.
You keep it simple.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
It is a simple spirituality, this gospel of Jesus Christ but it far from easy. Now, are you ready? Will you learn to run with me in the valley of suck?