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During the aftermath of a major storm in Houston, the Lord really spoke to me from James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
These trials are all a part of my sanctification process. They come my way not to show God my level of faith but to show me how much I trust Him. He was so faithful to me but I still whined and complained to Him because things did not happen the way I wanted them to happen. Talk about being immature. Talk about not persevering. God, through the difficulties of life following the storm, showed me that I was lacking something and I needed to be willing to persevere to gain those things and be complete.
How about you? How does your “structure” hold during the storms of life? The storms will always show our weaknesses – whether that is in our families, homes or churches. Those little cracks that we thought were fixed are just painted over and as the tension mounts the paint crackles and the weakness is exposed.
But the good news is that if we are willing to do the work, the once weak spot can be repaired even stronger than before. The question is are we willing to do the work? We can keep the blue tarps on our roofs for a long time and just go up and add more nails or more tarp during each storm. Or we can be willing to have the entire roof exposed for a short season so that a deep repair can be made and the leaks will stop.
Many of our residents come covered in blue tarps with a desire to be healed but just like you and just like me – they must do the work. We can lead, guide and direct – even plead – but they are the ones who have to make it happen. Sometimes the residents will do just that and it is wonderful to see. Other times residents choose painful and unwise paths. When this happens we have to let them go and not enable them in that process. Knowing where that fine line is takes much discernment, wisdom and prayer.
May we continue to be faithful when trials come our way so that when trials come to others we can be there with the wisdom necessary to walk alongside them and teach them to count it all joy!
Many of you may recognize the name, Eric Liddell, from Chariots of Fire. Liddell, in the 1924 Olympics, was a 22-year-old Scottish athlete who said no to self and yes to God. He dropped out of his best event—the 100 yard dash—because the qualifying heats were held on a Sunday. He entered the 400 yard dash. Even though he hadn’t trained for it, he won the gold medal. When asked about his running, in his heavy Scottish brogue, he says, “When I run I feel the Lord’s pleasure.”
Upon reflecting back over the last three years, this line continually comes to mind. As I watched almost 100 volunteers from First Presbyterian Church re-sod our yard, I felt the Lord’s pleasure. As I watched the Board discern the future of the ministry – to add services or not add services, I felt the Lord’s pleasure. As I take phone call after phone call from young women needing assistance, I feel the Lord’s pleasure.
Did I have to say no to self and say yes to God through this time? Absolutely. Was I fearful at times? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Weary? For sure. But whenever I stopped long enough to look to the hills to see from where my Help comes from (Psalm 121:1-3), the anxiousness dissipated, my strength was renewed and I was able to do it afraid.
God desires for all to feel His pleasure – for all to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” The “little” things for our residents are their babies. For our staff it is the five or six residents under their care and instruction. For me it is the operations of the ministry. What is the “little” thing in your life that brings the Lord pleasure and will cause you to one day hear “Well done”?
Not too long ago, Anthony, LifeHouse’s operations director asked me about the possibility of getting a piano for the ministry. His wife, Jessica, is a trained and extremely gifted pianist and ministry would be greatly impacted as we experienced “live” worship. I thought this was a wonderful idea but did not see it happening anytime soon. A few weeks passed and I thought I would just call William Taylor, Mission Pastor at Houston’s First Baptist Church and see if he knew of anyone who might want to donate a piano. “Actually, Becky, I just received an email 10 seconds ago from our Deaf Church that they have a piano they would like to donate.”
Well, that sounded a little bit like God might be in on this. Anthony contacted Pastor Arthur Craig of the Deaf Church and as he explained a little bit about the piano, Anthony asked, “How big is it?” “It is a baby grand!” So after lots of lifting by the staff and some wonderful volunteers, the piano arrived at the LifeHouse campus! The favor of the Lord is still upon us!!!
However, that is not the heart of what I want to share. Not too much later after the piano’s arrival, I went to Galveston for a few days to seek the Lord about the future and vision that He has for LifeHouse. As I prayed the Lord so gently spoke to me about the future and that I needed to believe Him for BIG things. He said, “I don’t just want to give you a nice upright piano. I want to give you a baby grand!” Oh how often have I settled for less when God has so much more for me.
As C.S. Lewis says, “…it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are halfhearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
My friends, may we not settle for mud pies but be obedient to Him, ask Him for HUGE things and believe Him to fulfill it in due time. What HUGE things are you believing God for?