Often in the Christian life we are simply obedient, never knowing why God asked us to do something, and never knowing if it did any good. Sometimes He graces us with a glimpse of its effect, but often not. I remember one time, years ago, when Mary Ann and I were early in youth ministry and we had put on a youth camp for local youth. It was exhausting, and I had been so excited about the teaching, and I was so discouraged because I couldn't tell if any youth had heard a word I'd said. I'd called it, "Accident (big bang bam bish, look mom, I came from a fish), or PLAN?" Over the four sessions I'd taken the word "plan" and broken it down. Friday night was "P"—Planets, space, and such. Saturday morning was "L"—the miracle of Life. Saturday night was "A"—Alive, or in the tomb? (evidence for the resurrection). Sunday morning was "N"—Never had to wonder (all the things science has "discovered" that were already in the Bible).
After each session I would ask the youth, "You decide—Accident, or PLAN?" By the end of the weekend I felt like quitting ministry, but then, a month later, God was kind enough to grant us a glimpse of something when one of the high school girls told me about being in science class that day and the teacher saying that anyone who didn't believe they came from a fish was to get up and walk out the door. She did. The teacher was startled and asked what she was doing, and she replied that she believed God had created her (how many others felt so, too, but didn't stand?). The teacher told her she could stay as long as she didn't talk about it.
It was an awesome spark of encouragement for Mary Ann and I, but the truth is, even if God hadn't shown it to us, she still would have heard and believed at that campout, and just because we didn't know about it, it wouldn't have made it any less effective. I'll never forget the pastor we talked to that afternoon at the end of the campout when we were very discouraged, who simply asked us, "Did you do what God asked you to do?" When we said that we thought we had he replied, "Then that's all He asked you to do. Trust the results to Him."
Writing on this blog is a lot like that. You pour out and try and be obedient, often never knowing if it is making any difference, but just trying to trust. Then, at times, you'll get a comment, or meet someone, who tells you how blessed they've been by it and it feels so good. It's like the affirming nod or "amen" from someone when you are preaching that says, "I hear ya, and keep going, you're right on, brother." We shouldn't need that, but, then again, we are human, too.
Well, the other day I got one of those and I've asked permission to share it with you because it is so encouraging to me, and I believe it will be an encouragement and an example to you. I had made my post, "What's Been Stolen?", about how the enemy gets us to focus on the negative and not see the blessing in things, and I'd used our home and property as the example. I'd recommend you read it if you haven't. A friend and reader who is the moderator of a large Christian website asked me to post the same words on that site. I did so reluctantly, not very confident, and I got one of the most awesome replies I've ever gotten. With permission, I've put part of it below:
Thank you! It was like you were speaking directly to what my husband and I have been struggling with. We've got so many things to do here at the house that it's become daunting to us. We have acreage to mow, weeds to hoe, fence to mend, etc. We've been bogged down by so many things on our "to do" list that it seems so defeating at times. Your post was like a glass of sweet iced tea on a hot day. It made me stop and think. You're right. We are blessed, and back when we were first starting out twenty years ago, we would've loved to have a place like we have now. It really is a dream come true. It made me sad to realize that I've let satan creep in and make taking care of this place feel burdensome. That starts getting corrected today! Thanks for a word in due season!
I replied to her comment and said, "Wow! You made my day . . . my week! I called my wife in and said, "You've got to read this! It makes it all worthwhile!" I am so glad I went ahead and posted this, though I almost didn't. I feel like my blog is a place people come to by choice, but posting a post now and then from it here [the other web site] feels like I am shoving my stuff out there. When ___ asked me to, I fought it, but didn't want to miss what God wanted. I am so, so glad I did if it blesses you and your husband and helps you grab the devil by the tail and kick him in the teeth! Feel free to stay in touch. You'll find some pictures of our place, my family, our cows, etc. on my blog if you want to visit it. I look forward to hearing more about your new victory!"
She then replied:
I read your post to my husband, and we talked about it. He felt the same way I did after reading it. We went outside and got busy with the project we had for this weekend. We got the pool up and running from the winter layover and raked, hoed, and spread weed killer. After we sat down, we started talking about the work we'd done, and the talk started to go down the path of "but we still haven't gotten the roof finished (we're re-shingling), or this, or this", etc. It was like the lightbulb went off, and we shut it down and said, "No! That's exactly what God showed us today, and we're not doing this anymore!". Immediately we changed our tune and talked about what we had accomplished. After that, I had a very long talk with God. It was filled with repentance and a lot of tears. Then, I looked around in awe. How amazing is God!!! He has given us such blessing in our lives that I never would have thought possible before; and not just the material things, our kids, our marriage, and the most important - our salvation! And from there just worshipping Him for the gift of salvation and His love and mercy and grace. I feel better than I've felt in a while. We're going to continue to kick satan in the teeth, and battle to get rid of that root of negative thinking.I hope that you are as encouraged by this as I was, and that it helps you see how to recognize what the enemy might be trying to steal in your life and heart, and how to take that captive to Christ and turn it around. Thanks, so much, for reading, and for those of you who subscribe by email or follow, you won't know how much that encourages me. I treasure you all and I look forward to that perfect cup of coffee in Heaven when we can sit around, get to know each other, and worship the Lord in pure spirit and truth. Until then, you all are welcome to drop by for an imperfect, but still good cup, here.
I will definitely check in on your blog, and keep you posted on what's going on. I can tell that you have a very humble heart before the Lord. Please don't ever feel that by posting here that we will think you're saying "look at me". You have messages to give that we will love and need to hear, just like this one today! God has given you such an awesome voice to speak His truth! Please shove away!!!!