Upstairs the tune Because He Lives is playing for the memorial service of a beloved and famous NC High School Athletic Coach that...4 years beyond what doctors told him...lost his battle to cancer this week.
He was 86 years old.
His testimony is one of faithfulness to God and humility of himself. A winning combination for any player...
The past few months have been a little darker for me than normal...and I don't mean in the manner in which you probably are picturing right now. I've not been sullen or depressed or even really sad at all. In fact, over these last few months God has done some amazing works of deliverance and mercy over my life, and I'm so humbled and grateful to him. I haven't deserved an ounce of it, and if you knew the whole story you would agree with me without a doubt. That's just the truth. What I mean by "dark" is that I have not seen or felt the presence of God in the way that I have become accustomed to in some time. He's been more silent...more mysterious...just a little more elusive to me than He has been in several years now. The Truth that I have known all along is that He is still as near and as present and as concerned over me than He ever was...He never leaves or forsakes me, Scripture assures me and I believe Scripture. So...I have continued with my Quiet Time with Him, even though it has been harder and they have been often less fervent on my part, because I know the dangers that lie behind neglecting my time with Him.
Night before last I pleaded with Him...I had an overwhelming need to feel His presence again. I was lonely, really. I missed Him...knowing all the while He was right there I just wanted him to show Himself.
Let me stop here and provide a disclaimer for a moment. There is a danger in needing to "feel" too much where our Savior and our faith walk is concerned. His Truth is THE Truth whether we "feel" it or not. Even when I don't "feel" Him or "see" Him or "experience" Him in the way I want...doesn't mean that is "the" truth. If we begin to equate OUR "feelings" with the truth...we're in a mess of trouble. Listen to me...I have to remind myself of this constantly...if what we are feeling or doing or believing or choosing contradicts ANY part of the Holy and inerrant Word of God, the Bible...we are being deceived by the Enemy. Plain and Simple. The world we live in is fallen, and SO OFTEN we are subjected to situations or victimized in terrible ways or led astray by those who claim we can trust them, because let be honest they're just mortal men living in a fallen world just like we are, and our minds get...well, let's just called a spade a spade...our minds get all kinds of screwed up. In the end, bottom line, we start self-protecting and controlling and set out for nobody but ourselves because it seems as though no one else is...and we make a mess of this one chance we get at life. We can't trust our own minds to make the best decisions. None of us.
I'm not talking about any place I haven't been myself.
We need Him. More directly, we need His Word. It is that Lamp unto our feet that Scripture calls it. It is unchanging and perfect...like NOTHING else on this earth. It is our only Hope to live the lives we long for. If we spend time with Him inside His Word and we ask Him, share with Him our need and desire to know His perfect will over our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit...He will deliver. Might it involve repentance? Likely. Will it involve sanctification... a patient journey of God to be make us more holy as He is holy? Yes. Will involve an abundance of joy and mercy and sweet grace, the wonderful unmerited astounding favor of God Almighty? Oh yes. Plenty of it...
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. " Romans 12:2
End of Disclaimer.
So, anyway, night before last I pleaded with Him to show Himself. I wanted a real and refreshing taste of Him, like a tall and cold glass of water on the hottest day of the year. I missed His presence, and I told Him as much. He then led me to some places in my heart that needed to be cleaned out. Some resentment I had been harboring, some folks I needed to change my attitude towards, some pride I needed to let go of. He showed me some places I had been judgemental where I had absolutely no right. These sins had snuck up on me! And I had been justifying them. I laid on the floor prostrate and asked His forgiveness. I asked Him to please come alongside and help me to change my heart...
The next day...He showed up.
Last night, as I pondered it and prayed, I told Him, "I just want you. All I need is you."
Bingo. There it is. I finally arrived.
For years I have been saying that, "All I need is You," knowing it as Truth but not necessarily always "feeling" it myself. Sound familiar? (see Disclaimer) I have tried my best, most of the time, to live in that way...in obedience to the only one who would never lead me astray..the Perfect One.
Yesterday...I got it. I owned it. I know it.
I don't NEED a bigger house or a nicer car...I don't NEED a new degree...I don't NEED the perfect church or the perfect family...I don't NEED a bunch of money...I don't need a husband or a house full of kids...I don't NEED my dogs (gulp)...I don't NEED great friends...I don't NEED that new outfit or your approval...I don't NEED control.
All need is Him. He's got me, and He's proved it over and over...
I can risk it all and lose it all. I can put my heart on the line and trust anybody and everybody. For one reason alone...
I can't lose the one and only thing I simply must have...
My Savior Jesus Christ.
"My beloved is mine, and I am His..." Song of Solomon 2:16a