J.I. Packer, as a young pastor, found himself “marginalized, isolated and required to work on unfulfilling and flawed agendas, in a manner that made him think of the Israelites having to make bricks for Pharaoh.” He claims to have lived “like Moses in Midian, with frustration in [his] heart, wondering what God could possibly be up to.” During those years his spiritual education was proceeding. Below are some of the main lessons that God through his Word hammered into his heart.
I personally benefited from these few lessons and I hope you will too.
1. Goodwill — I should not get bitter or lapse into self-pity or spend time complaining or angling for sympathy. God was using my ministry, and I was forbidden to get fixated on my frustrations.
2. Hope — I must not become cynical or apathetic about the vision I had been given or to abandon it because there was no immediate way of advancing it. God is never in a hurry, and waiting in hope is a Christian discipline.
3. Faithfulness — As husband, father, teacher, honorary assistant pastor and occasional author, I had plenty each day to get on with, and I could not honor God by slackness and negligence, whatever discontents I was carrying around inside me.
4. Compassion — Clearly I was being taught to empathize more deeply with the many Christians, lay and ordained, male and female, who live with various kinds of disappointments and thus were in the same boat as myself.
5. Humility — I must never forget that God is supreme and important, and I am neither, and he can manage very well without me whenever he chooses to do so.
Make us Thy mountaineers;
We would not linger on the lower slope.
Fill us afresh with hope,
Thou God of hope,
That undefeated, we may climb the hill,
as seeing Him who is invisible.
— Amy Carmichael, Missionary to India
I am starting to read a book that was recently co-authored by one of the members of our church, Dr. Michael Parker. It is entitled A Vision for An Aging Church: Renewing Ministry by and for Seniors. Here’s an encouraging nugget in the prologue.
The majority of older Christians, by virtue of living so long, have experienced the hopelessness of soul that comes from self-reliance, when everything seems to be perishing and life has rubbed them “red raw.” They are, therefore, more likely to have learned to surrender God-ward than toward self-reliance when the storms of life come.
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill:
Can the boast sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?
Jesus expresses his longing for us in what is called His high priestly prayer. He prays:
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
Here’s how Peter Kreeft describes it in his book Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing:
All of us will know glory flat in the face when we die. We shall be hailed by the Angel of death with the same lightsome glory with which Mary was hailed by the angel of life, because Christ has made death into life’s golden chariot sent to fetch his Cinderella bride out of the cinders of this fireplace of the world through a far midnight ride to his very own castle and bedchamber, where glory will beget glory upon us forever.
If you missed this interview done by Rick Karle of Fox 6 Sports that was shown this past Saturday, let me urge you to take a few minutes and watch it.
I would especially commend to you the words of Ashley Harrison’s mom at the end of the interview. It’s powerful, comforting, and tearful!
Please pray for the Lord to sustain and encourage Carson as well as Ashley Harrison’s parents.
“Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.”
– Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey