At that time I was going through some struggles in my family. I'm going to be honest with you. I won't spell out the messes in my life in detail. I don't think you need all that. All of us have issues and messes. The good news is that God has always made beautiful transformations out of chaos.
My faith was so weak back then that I could not have joy when anything was missing in my life. When concerns filled my mind I saw the whole world through my gray lenses.
Momentarily I would have a lift from a book or a message. I would have a burst of joy and I could delight in the Lord again. But my spiritual journey was not blessed with a continual awareness of God in my life. No, a better description would have been "Stop and Start."
Biographies of Christian men and women inspired my faith. While I was wrestling with the need of God's presence continually in my life I heard Elizabeth Elliot speak at a meeting in North Carolina . This amazing saint shared with us when her missionary husband, Jim, was executed by people he introduced the gospel to.
She lit up with joy as she told of taking her infant daughter into the jungle to live primitively with the natives who killed her husband. She was radiant as she told us of spending eight years translating the gospel into their language. Her eyes danced with delight as she told us that the chief of the tribe became the preacher of the newly established church in that jungle.
"Oh, God, You are not one to choose favorites. Fill me with Your Presence and Your Spirit. I want to live fully every day of my life in You. I desire to be vibrantly alive in the middle of life's messes like Elizabeth, " was my plea in those Carolina mountains years ago.
Shortly after that conference in NC I took a day to pray for help with my problems. I took a hike in the Georgia foothills. On the trail I walked along a bubbling brook with a constant sound of the water crashing into the rocks. I was praying for a sign that God was with me. I kept feeling a need to study this brook. I became frustrated that all I could concentrate on was this brook. I finally prayed, "God, are You telling me something in this brook?"
Then it hit me. Elizabeth and the saints in the Bible had a fresh flowing "brook" of living water of God's presence, Holy Spirit with them consciously every moment. This was what I had been seeking. I hoped that this was my day to begin living with the continual presence of God in my life that I could "know" He was in me at all times.
Now some 20 years later I can tell you there is no more "stop and start" with my knowing God is with me. I live In Christ and everything is done with the sense of "us" not just "me." As I realized those many years ago, God does not have favorites. He desires an intimate knowing relationship with all His sons and daughters.
Relationships with others are critical to our good abundant life. My hope is that you will take all your life and relationships and dare to trust God to be Lord of your life.
My pain back then had to do with broken promises. Oh, promises....they get broken, overlooked, or even ignored. It hurts to our core when people don't come through.
In John 16:33 Jesus Christ offers you and me a twofold promise:"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
This journey of life is exciting and some of that excitement isn't always pleasant. So how is it that I can take heart despite my troubles? Because Jesus Christ has overcome it all.My part is to stay "clean" with my sin and living for selfish interests. King David had the answer:
Psalms 51:10 -12 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit.