Monthly Archives: May 2015
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…”
Do you? Like me, do you feel the fierce tug to want to quit or move on to something else?
Sometimes its time to quit and move on, but what we need more often than not is the conviction to stay and move forward. Where do we find the inspiration to grind life out when everything in and around us is saying it would just be easier to give up?
Let’s always start with Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and finished God’s redeeming work of atoning for our sins (Hebrews 12:1-2). But there are others, both alive and dead, who might challenge us to fight wandering and premature quitting.
John Piper points us to such a person and explains why we have need of seeing this example of endurance. Read. Be challenged. Be encouraged.
Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was the pastor at Trinity Church in Cambridge, England for 54 years. In the first 12 years there was so much opposition from his congregation that “pewholders” locked their pews, stayed away, and forced him to preach to a standing congregation who fit in the building where they could. John Piper
I need very much this inspiration from another age, because I know that I am, in great measure, a child of my times. And one of the pervasive marks of our times is emotional fragility. I feel it as though it hung in the air we breathe. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily. We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition.
A typical emotional response to trouble in the church and life is to think, “If that’s the way they feel about me, then they can find themselves another…..” We see very few models today whose lives spell out in flesh and blood the rugged words, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials” (James 1:3). When historians list the character traits of the last third of twentieth century America, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve and perseverance will not be on the list. The list will begin with an all-consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of self-assertiveness, and self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if you think that you are not at all a child of your times just test yourself to see how you respond in the ministry when people reject your ideas.
We need help here. When you are surrounded by a society of emotionally fragile quitters, and when you see a good bit of this ethos in yourself, you need to spend time with people – whether dead or alive – whose lives prove there is another way to live. Scripture says, “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). So I want to hold up for you the faith and the patience of Charles Simeon for your inspiration and imitation.
Rain is grace from God. It is not saving grace, but a common grace that God gives to the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45), reminding us that we too should be gracious to all people and thankful to God.
This wet grace woke me up last night. It woke me because it was heavy and it lasted for an extended time. I was not bitter that sleep was interrupted, rather I was quite glad. This was a good rain and we haven’t had many rains like this in recent memory. Surely, I thought, my rain gauge will be overflowing with the evidence of God’s grace. So I went expectantly this morning to see what God had done.
“Only two inches? That’s all? That’s what woke me up? Just two inches?”
As I stared at the rain gauge, an unexpected thought poured over me: “I am so ungrateful! Why is my heart not thankful? I don’t have one reason to demand a single drop of grace and yet God has given thousands of drops of unmerited favor.
Oh God, help me to have a thankful heart in response to your abundant grace. Thank You, for the rain!”