Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Keep Me In Prayer-Are the Lights Out?
It’s a beautiful cool Wednesday morning. I know that you are expecting a new Wisdom Wednesday, but sometimes I, and more importantly, God has different plans for us.
To tell you that the last two weeks of my life have been thought provoking would probably be an understatement. There has been a lot happening. If you’ve been reading lately, you know about the drama of real life that Kim Burry has been going through. One of my favorite elder stateswomen has been sick as well after a stroke landed her in the hospital. My friend Kevin’s grandmother has been a part of my life since junior high and knowing she is hurting has made feel for the situation as well.
While these events haven’t demanded a lot of my time, they have made me spend a lot of time thinking. I have three great kids and they do demand a lot of my time. Since my daughter Megan started pre-school, my youngest daughter Maggie has missed her and wanted more time with her daddy. I don’t mind that at all, but the morning time that I used to spend writing is now devoted to my little about to be 18-month darling and my two year old son, James. Without their bossy leader (see, sometimes it’s not a bad thing), they are needing a little more direction from me. So when I have written, usually in the last month it has been at night, after they go to bed.
Most nights that isn’t a horrible thing, but it does leave my wife alone with the TV. And while the TV is nice and puts out some shows she loves to watch, she misses me some. So I do fight feelings of guilt occasionally.
That has stepped up over the past week with some admissions. I had told you last week that I felt an overwhelming feeling of depression, which I thought was totally caused by the intense and heavy prayer of all the sickness that has surrounded me. However, I found out over the weekend that the sickness is a little closer to home than I had imagined.
My wife Mindy finally told me that she has a couple of health concerns. First, she had to begin chiropractic treatment this week because of a degeneration in her right hip and severe pain in her back. She told me that the hip is supposed to work like a ball and socket. Well, her socket has a curve in it and it is causing pain and new unintended growth in her hip. There is also tissue rubbing in between two bones that is also almost gone. With some treatment, it will get better. That was the good news.
Then, she shared that there was a growth behind her thyroid. While most people tend to notice swelling around the neck, I tend to be totally oblivious. It concerned her doctor enough to schedule a follow-up appointment with a specialist to see if it needed removed, or taken out as a biopsy. Cancer does run in her family, so it is a red flag of concern.
Now while this will probably not kill her, and with seeing Bill handle his wife’s near death experience, these things have made me appreciate and want to make a little more time for her. We never know when our spouse or anyone else will be called home and this has given me new eyes on how I need my wife. On October 26, we will celebrate seven years of marriage. I think we’d both like to have many more years.
With this going on, I did start another new venture that has already paid off. Many of you have read interviews from blog tours thanks to a group headed by Karen Power. She sends out books to read and give some thought on and we’ve had some very good books to look at because of it. Well, I started a new relationship with another promoter. Her name is Kathy Carlton Willis. She sent me a new book yesterday written by Cecil Murphey called When God Turned Off the Lights.
Admittedly, when I saw the title, I thought that the book would be about struggling churches closing and how the people have dealt with it. I’ve seen a couple churches close their doors and it is tough to witness. Dedicated people lose their community when this happens and it changes lives. People end up going to different churches and have a hard time giving into the new community out of fear.
However, that had nothing to do with this book. Have you ever read a few pages into a new book and realize you’ve been nailed? Happened to me with this book. The real theme of this book is for Christians who are dedicated, doing their best to serve and be open to God, but not really feel him moving with power in their lives.
After reading the first two chapters of Cec’s words, I knew I needed this book. I want to share a couple thoughts from Chapter 2 of his book.
He writes, “For years, my friends used delightful adjectives when telling me about my Christianity, and I loved hearing them. They called me faithful, committed, serious, generous, and devout. They lauded me for my zeal and enthusiasm for God.
But one day, none of those terms fit me; I felt like a spiritual fraud. I kept trudging onward, and at times, I wondered why I bothered. My Christian experience felt as if I were driving on two flat tires.”
I understand the feeling. I feel like I’m there myself. It’s not the fault of my local church. I flash the smile of Godly contentment and truthfully, it is nice to be in a church that gives more than two craps about me. Before New Hope, I hadn’t felt even wanted since leaving Bible Baptist seven years ago. But I’m falling through the cracks. Looking happy, there are a few that can tell. They are the ones who have spoke into my life in the last six months that I’m on a collision course with depression, exhaustion and inevitable failure. That’s a road I don’t want to be on.
Murphey says something else, “I wasn’t playing the role of the hypocrite. I wanted my life to be vibrant, joyful and committed. I wanted God to smile on me. I cried out constantly for a sense of the divine presence and it wasn’t there for me.”
My feelings feel validated here. I think all of us want a healthy, loving relationship with God. It’s been over a year that I’ve worked on One Man Revival. I want God to bless this ministry and He has. I get letters occasionally telling me how what I’ve written has blessed their lives and helped their situation. These are true blessings to me. They put a bounce in my step.
But I want to be able to keep that bounce even if the letters aren’t coming because if I live in the moment of how people feel about my ministry, the direction will be more performance based than where God really wants me. I enjoy bringing you encouragement, but I want God’s best for you and for me.
The back cover of the book tells us that we really have three choices when we feel the lights go out: 1) to give up, 2) we can examine ourselves for sin or failure, or 3) we can accept that God has hidden His face from us for a purpose. Number 1 is not an option to me.
However, I think taking step 2 could be healthy for me in this time of trial. That’s why I’ve decided to take 2 weeks starting today to step back. The first thing that you’ll see is the interview and materials for this book on October 15. It’s going to be hard not to write, but I need to take this time to achieve a few things. These are things that you can pray for, if you would like.
First, I want to take some time to spend with my wife and family. Let it be quality time and that everyone feels loved, accepted and appreciated. Second, I want to take time to pray about the direction of this ministry (even more), pray for the direction of my family and pray about how I need to be spending my time. Third, I want to spend time reading God’s word and the rest of Cecil Murphey’s book. I think that God has much to say during the time and I want to be focused and hear it. Fourthly, I want to make sure that I am there for Mindy’s doctor appointment on October 13th to discuss this growth on her neck and what course of action needs to be taken.
Finally, I’ve had one criticism of late, at least by the community of friends that I’ve made on Facebook. A comment I received was that I was making so much effort to write the messages of One Man Revival and of the 90 Day Bible series that I wasn’t really taking time to talk to people anymore. When your friends tell you that they miss just talking to you, you tend to think that maybe, just maybe, that you are spending too much time making the stars shine and not enough time amongst the people. I’m still not playing the games on Facebook. There are just way too many viruses going around on them. But I will come and comment and talk to people a little more. Real growth in people occurs when your friends have enough courage to tell you when things aren’t exactly right. Maturity comes in people being able to take those comments and make them count.
So I’ll be around. But please do pray for me. I want to be the best servant of the King that I can be. Be it at home with the wife and kids, being a friend, being a leader on OMR and in my community and making a difference in this messed up world.
I love you guys!