Trust Amid the Storm

My family and I were directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. More accurately, we were impacted afterward when the US Army Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates of the Barker Reservoir sending a deluge of flood waters into my neighborhood and many, many others in the City of Houston. For thousands of Houstonians, the impact of Harvey began as the storm itself moved from our area.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 13:5 NASB

The days, weeks, and even months after we evacuated our home are somewhat of a blur, but I remember them vividly. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but the statement is accurate. Evacuating with no advance warning, we had to make quick decisions about what we took with us, heeding the instructions of the boat pilots to take as little as possible. We didn’t have time to worry about where we would go or what we would do; we just knew we had to leave.

You know what? As I look back on what I call our “Harvey Story”, my heart fills with gratitude. For through everything, from evacuation to fostering pets, from accepting vehicles on loan to a fully furnished home to live in as we cleaned ours out, from dealing with the federal government for a low-interest loan to managing through repairs (which still aren’t fully completed), we experienced God’s provision. God worked through the volunteers who helped us evacuate and later clean out our home. He worked through so many who donated cash, gift cards, cars and even a house. He honored the prayers of many friends as He offered clarity to my sometimes rather dazed mind. Indeed, amidst the tumult of the storm, God never left us. He was always there, and more importantly, He was directing everything.

As David wrote this psalm, and many others, his life was in turmoil. He sometimes felt that God had forgotten him, leaving him on his own to deal with his thoughts and circumstances (Ps 13:1-3). But, while God sometimes allowed David to experience trials and tribulations, He never left Him. And through it all, David was reminded of that which is truly important: “…my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”

I wish I could tell you that my attitude throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was always positive. I wish I could tell you that I consistently maintained my disciplines of study, worship and prayer. I wish I could tell you that I never worried, never doubted, never feared. I wish I could, but I cannot. But here is what I can tell you. I can tell you that through my lows, through my lack of discipline, through my worries, my doubts and my fears, God was always faithful. He met every single need we had as the need presented itself. God directly intervened in our lives to see us through the disaster.

Now we are faced with a sizable loan that must be repaid. I drive part time for Uber and Lyft to help make the payments. I’m sometimes tempted to worry about our financial future. Then, in the quiet of the morning, God gives me His Word. He offers this reminder that, no matter what, my eternity is sealed. My salvation is sure, thanks to His grace and mercy through His Son, Jesus. And, with that reality and His blessing, I can face anything.

What storms are you facing today? Is there turmoil in your life that you’re struggling to manage through? Do you wonder where the next paycheck will come from? Is work stressful and overwhelming? Take a moment today and read Psalm 13. It’s short, but packed with meaning. Let God remind you of that which is supremely important. And know that He hasn’t forgotten you, nor has He abandoned you. He is there. He loves you. He cares. He will see you through.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

Get Some Rest!

I went to bed at 9:00 last night. 9:00! On a Friday night! I remember “back in the day” just getting ready to head out for the evening at 9:00 and now, here I am, hitting the sack! Truth is, I’ve had a busy week and I’m tired. I need some rest. I need to sleep.

By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Genesis 2:2 NASB

I find it rather fascinating that the concept of “rest” originated at creation with the Creator Himself. Here, in Genesis, at the conclusion of His creative work, God takes a whole day to rest. What did He do on that day? Why does God need to rest? As I ponder this, my mind fills itself with questions that Scripture does not answer. And I know that the fact that Scripture does not answer them means that those questions really aren’t all that important. Which leaves me with…God’s action. His example. His rest.

Do you ever feel like our society has dismissed the notion of a day of rest; that society considers taking a day to rest a waste of time? I do, sometimes, and that is a huge mistake. Scripture does offer some additional insight:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11 NASB

So now we have God’s example and we have God’s command. We are told to rest and to keep the seventh day holy. So, what does that mean? In this busy, 24/7 world in which we live, what are we to do with that?

I remember watching a movie years ago in which a Christian family of 1800’s vintage spent a Sunday afternoon sitting in chairs staring at the walls. They had gone to church, and now they were trying their best to obey God’s command to rest. They were not allowed to speak. The children, if they fidgeted, received a stern look from their father. And there they sat. All afternoon. Is that what God wants? As well intended as I believe these parents were, I think they missed the mark.

Jesus, Himself, was criticized by the Pharisees for “working” on the Sabbath day. First, His disciples had the gall to pluck heads of grain and eat them as they walked through grain fields on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1ff). Wait – Jesus and His disciples are walking on the Sabbath! Jesus rebukes the Pharisees’ rebuke and continues on to the synagogue. Inside, He encounters a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus answers with a question (I love it when He does that) and proceeds to heal the man’s hand which, of course, sent the Pharisees straight over the edge. (See Matthew 12:1-14)

I think the Pharisees would have liked that 1800’s family. But we see here that, like the 1800’s family in the movie, the Pharisees missed the mark. What we see here is so much bigger than my decision on how to spend my day of rest. Here, we see Law and Gospel. Sin and Grace. Condemnation and Redemption. Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the Law, provides the answer to my dilemma.

One of the commitments I’ve made for 2019 is to be deliberate in seeking rest; Taking one one day to unplug from work and give my mind a break from what it spends so much time doing most of the week. Just as God gave Himself a break from His work of creation, I am committed to taking a break from the toils of my daily work. I’m not staring at walls. I’m not maintaining silence. I’m doing something different.

You see, I am best equipped to do my best work when I show up in the morning well rested and reenergized. And so are you. Do you get enough rest? Are you able to unplug? It is important. When we rest from our work, everybody wins.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019

“What is it Like…?”

The question stopped me in my tracks. It was January 6, the first Sunday of 2019. I was sitting in the pew next to my wife listening to the first sermon of the year. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when I read the title in our bulletin: “Living Under the Influence: Resolve”. Great. A sermon on New Year’s resolutions. Not exactly what I came to hear. But as our pastor spoke, I realized that my prejudgment was (as it often is) way off the mark. Preaching on a portion of Acts 14, Pastor was speaking of how critical a proper attitude is to living a life that glorifies and honors Christ as we seek to make Jesus visible to the world around us. Then he suggested we ponder this question:

What is it like to live with me every day?

Rev. Dr. Trey Little, Grace Presbyterian Church

Wow. I have never considered that. Glancing at my wife seated next to me, I wondered how she might answer that question. After all, I’m not always the easiest guy to live with. Then I thought about my coworkers at Sysco. If I were to ask them what it is like to work with me every day, how might they answer? Am I supportive? Am I approachable? Am I respectful? Am I trustworthy? Next I considered people with whom I do business – insurance brokers, claims professionals, attorneys, and various consultants. How might they answer? As I’ve pondered this over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to realize that these answers are important, but their importance is less about me than it is about Him.

My chief mission in life is to conduct myself in a manner that honors God while seeking to be salt and light to the world in which I live, just as Jesus Himself described.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

See why I say the answer to the question is more about Him than it is about me? I do not seek the “right” answers to these questions so I can puff up my chest and be proud of the great man everybody thinks I am. No. I seek the “right” answers to these questions because I want to be a beacon in this dark world. I want to be different from the world so God can use me to draw the lost to Him through me – by whatever manners and means He chooses to use. I want my life to glorify Him.

Ever since Pastor posed this question I’ve sensed some change. The question is written in my prayer journal to remind me to ponder it each morning. Indeed, I am God’s work in progress. I stumble every day. I say stupid things. I make mistakes. Thankfully, I know that God will not give up on me. And neither will I.

So, what say you? Does this question give you pause as it did me? If so, what are you going to do about it? As I go into my work place this week, I pray that God will equip me to conduct myself in a manner that draws others to want to know Him. How about you?

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com (2019)