This week I had the privilege of receiving the manuscript of a book to be published by a spiritual giant. The author offered to accept my thoughts to be added to the publication, which was a real honor to me personally. The book was a fascinating read which I couldn’t put down. It detailed the questions, the struggles and the affirmations of faith from a man who is known and loved by thousands of believers around the world.
I have to admit that after reading the first one fourth of the manuscript, I found myself examining my own heart and some of my philosophies of ministry that have been developed over a thirty-year period of ministry. The manuscript actually drove me back to my favorite book (the Bible) to discover truths that I actually learned as a child, but that in the “hustle and bustle” of life may have relegated to another part of my mind than the part that faces daily struggles.
I found myself staring off into the distance outside my office window, remembering the truths my mother had taught me on her knee, and remembering my earliest years of ministry; years filled with a boundless faith and unbridled enthusiasm for the work of the Lord. But then, the ringing telephone jarred me back to the present moment, and I sighed as I reached over to answer it.
Like all good books, this manuscript created a stirring inside to read more of the contents, and see how the book would end. So, after a short conversation, I returned to the manuscript and picked up where I left off before my daydreaming.
Almost as if the Lord had directed me to it, I stopped reading and reached for my Bible to read a Scripture the Lord had touched my heart with…now, the Scripture was not in the book, but the Holy Spirit quickened me, so I turned to it and actually read it aloud.
“We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.” (Isaiah 59:14)
Now I have to be honest with you, I was a bit stunned by what I read. Of course I’ve read the verse before, but I just really didn’t expect to be seized with the moment of the Spirit gripping my heart. Think about it, and tell me if this is not an apt description of where many have found themselves in recent days?
Our world is in turmoil and there seems to be one crisis after another. The news media touts their experts on exactly what it is going to take to bring an answer to our social issues, racism is just as blatant as before, peace eludes us around the world.
If it were just the secular world experiences the contractions of pain and suffering that would be one thing…but in the church? Yes, we have struggles around us, we don’t know which way to turn.
It seems as if every week brings another book from the “experts” on the varied and sundry issues facing modern Christianity, everything from intra-church governmental issues to doctrinal questions being raised that will boggle our minds. Who has the answer? We are the most opinionated generation that ever existed (in my opinion) and the questioning of long-established truths has taught us that when the questions start, no one knows when to stop. We are indeed groping in the dark.
Again, I leaned back in my chair…I gazed out the window…my mind wandered back to the earlier years of ministry. It seems as if I had all the answers at 23-years-old, but now at 54, I struggle to give solutions to hurting, struggling, confused people.
Then it dawned on me that the answer is the same place now as it was then…the answer lies within the pages of God’s revealed will for mankind…the Bible. In it’s pages are goldmines of truth, an overabundance of wisdom that is there….just for the asking. (James 1:5)
I read a little further down the chapter and found comfort. Read it with me;
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion.” (Isaiah 59:19b-20a)
This was a Scripture that my mother quoted to me when I was young and feeling overwhelmed with life…when the trials seem to flood over us, THE STANDARD….THE REDEEMER will be lifted up against the enemies.
Yes, we have struggles. No, I don’t have the answers. But I do know where to find them. In the same place they’ve always been, tucked away between the bonded leather covers of my Bible. And Who raises these up? “The Spirit of the Lord.”
Whatever the struggle is today…if the answer to your problems feels like an eternity away…if you don’t know where to turn; turn the pages of your Bible. Therein you will find the comfort for your soul.
I am so thankful my friend and my father in the faith shared that manuscript with me. It reminded me of just how good the Lord God is to all of us, and that He loves us so much, He will send a reminder to us from the most unusual places…and if we are wise, we will let Him catch our attention…so we will stop “groping in the darkness,” and allow the “Daystar” to arise in our hearts! (2 Peter 1:19)
God bless you.