6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermons

Summary: God makes use of good and bad times to mold and shape the Believer so that they can have an intimate relationship with Him.

Throughout my marriage, I continually struggled with the many constraints imposed upon me because of my wife’s health and multiple medical issues that required constant care and the time needed for meeting those needs. I made a legion of attempts to find a job that would provide the income necessary for her care and allow me the time to be active in the church. It was difficult because the demands of my time and focus continued to increase at home, and work in the church decreased. It was as if I had two full-time jobs, and I was just tired…period. As a result, I had to learn how to truly live in the moment and take no concern for tomorrow. This is still the only thing that gets me through each day.

I do not have the nurturing thing in me, so I had to fight my claustrophobic frustration and the root of bitterness daily for a long time. It was extremely difficult for me, and as time went on, I just didn’t have the patience or strength I once had to deal with it all. I lived in the zombie zone and stayed there.

My emotions, feelings, thoughts, and reactions were all extremely troubling to me, and that compounded it all. So, I was in a persistent quandary… my ministry was my wife, and I was failing miserably at it.

I am a pragmatic realist, and my wife was a melancholy dreamer. In the face of overwhelming reality and facts, she would hold firm in her determination to beat the odds. That helped her to stay alive as long as she did. She had been through far more than anyone I have ever known or heard of. She used a type of hope that things will get better if she just staid determined enough via faith.

I came to understand that hope is not a ‘thing’ but rather a person – i.e., Jesus – and that He wants us to trust in Him more than we trust that things will work out. All of the nonsense we went through only forced me to come to the place of daily re-energizing my trust in Jesus – most of the time I still do it kicking and screaming – which is why I coined the phrase ‘trusting-faith’ to describe what having real ‘faith’ is.

At the time, the thought of continuing in this journey for years to come was beyond my ability to consider. I wanted it all done and over with NOW! That had been my mantra for three-plus decades. Things did not improve, and life did not get better even with all the prayer and fasting. What happened is that I was forced to go deep into Jesus – trying to understand His character and nature, His love for me – so that I could cope- and not heed the nagging desire to run away from it all.

I could spiritualize it all and say ‘saintly’ things, but the truth is that I was not, nor had I ever been, a cheerfully willing participant in any of this. The daily challenges tore and clawed at me like a trapped animal trying to free itself. I had been forcibly brought to having a deeper relationship with Jesus. All of my dreams and aspirations have been brutally dashed upon the rocks of reality.

The Gethsemane prayer has been uttered time and time again as a result of a seemingly coerced confession through the torture of my old nature. I willingly chose to sign on the dotted line and had a supernatural glimpse of my future back at the beginning of it all. The truth is, I didn’t sign on for this because I was a faithful and fully devoted follower of Jesus, but rather, because I had visions of grandeur as ‘my’ ministry would flourish once Jesus healed my wife and I would reap the worldly rewards – and of course, God would get ‘all’ the glory.

Over time I had grown weary of talking about all the things I learned through these ‘faith’ challenges because I was constantly confronted of my LACK of love, mercy, patience, and trusting-faith. In spite of my delusions, I was forced to come to the place of abject surrender. In the midst of my anger, my despair, and humiliation, Jesus continued, and still does to this day, to ambush me with His love and capture my heart – yet it was more like a casualty and prisoner of war than a willing, submissive servant.

The amazing thing throughout my life is that I am constantly being overwhelmed by His majestic beauty and ravished heart for me. Jesus continues to become the center of my existence and the focus of my desire. That has forced me to long for nothing else, and no one else, but Him alone. He has ruined me for anything else, and all the emotional pain, heartache, and physical exhaustion I feel will ultimately fade as my real desire has slowly shifted from the things of this world and instead to be found in the Glory Realm, lost in the intimacy of divine embrace with Him. As one writer has so aptly said, “The more I seek Him, the more I find Him, and the more I find Him, the more I love Him.” The brilliance of His beauty always illuminates the darkness when we get out of the way.

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