Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I am Thankful for a Word of Wisdom

I enjoyed my first semester at Lee, but I still struggled with uncertainty about God’s will for my life. The question was always on my mind. I spent a lot of time in prayer, but the heavens were silent. For weeks it was as if everything I said to God ascended to the ceiling and was there absorbed into a black hole. If I tarried long enough I would in my spirit hear a faint bell chiming through the abyss, like a gentle fog horn sounding from the shore announcing safe harbor is ahead. I spent as much time as I could in the prayer room but other than the bell, usually late at night, God could not be found. As I prostrated myself on Saturday evening wrestling just to hear something, anything, from God, I asked “what am I supposed to do with my life.” To my surprise He responded, “Do what you know to do.” I was ecstatic; God was speaking again. I rejoiced with enthusiasm; God was speaking to me. Then the question shot to the front of my brain, “what does that mean, what do I know to do?”

I began to prepare a list of the things I knew God expected of me: worship, Bible study, prayer, and witnessing. Those were the core duties I believed He required of me. As I walked back to my dorm I prayerfully reviewed the list, reciting it back to God and then He spoke again, “And fellowship with the saints, daily.” The “fellowship” part instantly rang true, but the “daily” part took me by surprise. It would be easy while I lived in a dorm on a Christian campus. I concluded it could be fulfilled in marriage, but I knew deep down He was referring to fellowship beyond the home, but I also knew this was a descriptive norm and not a legal necessity.

I came away from that encounter with a motto for my life, “when you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do.” I have preached on that subject several times and used it in counseling sessions. Others have come to associate it with me. As a pastor, it is encouraging to have people refer to things I have said as having significance in their lives. Without a doubt this motto is the most quoted truism of mine cited as being helpful. That is nice but for me the significance is that it has sustained me through many dark nights of the soul. When I am lost in the midst of a storm I remind myself God requires only that I be faithful in the things I know He wills for my life. I soon came up with a corollary personal proclamation, “I am going to keep on keeping on until I can’t, and then I am going to die and go to heaven.” Someone recently said they heard this statement as being very pessimistic. I don’t mean it that way. It is for me a declaration of determination and trust. I can do all God expects of me and I can trust Him to complete the rest and consummate it in His presence.

I am thankful God doesn’t put more on me than I can bear. He only requires that I be faithful. I am thankful for this personal word of wisdom that has sustained me through many difficulties. By His grace I will keep on keeping on, doing what I know to do.

Cleveland, Tennessee
January 13, 2010

1 comment:

Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

You have always given me wise counsel, and have been a friend/mentor extraordinaire! I always am ready for "Jackie Speaks"...