May 26, 2018

God Tests Us Through Difficult Decisions

Of all the decisions I've made through out the years, and many of them have been life-changing, the one to surrender to God's will for ministry has been the most difficult. I've walked that way before. I've struggled with the choices before me. I've agonized in prayer. I've reviewed all the options facing me a thousand times. And it always comes down to taking that simple step of faith, the one God has given me to at the time. God tests us! Never easy, it's all about allowing Jesus to work His will out in my life. It's all about saying "Yes" to the Lord, then acting on our faith.

About a year ago I came back to the Church of God (Anderson), the "prodigal son" coming home (from the United Methodist Church) to his roots in God's church. Such a blessing it was for me to be welcomed back into the fellowship, completely forgiven and joyfully recognized by my brothers and sisters in the faith. I've been so blessed during this time to have a pastoral visitation and discipleship teaching ministry almost immediately supplied by my home church (Shartel Church of God, Oklahoma City), as if I had never left in the first place. I am happy in the ministries I have now. 

But there remained a question in my mind - the possibility of serving another church. Having had various vocational ministries in the Church of God (Home Missionary, Senior Pastor, U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain), and still having some strength and presence of mind in this 70-year-old body to offer the Lord and His church, I had been thinking about another stint as a Senior Pastor or Interim Pastor. I make all my ministry decisions with my wife, Barbara. She has always been a main-stay in my ministry decisions. Without her, I simply wouldn't have made it at all in any ministry. So, we were thinking about it.

The decision to act on faith is what Jesus has always wanted from me. The Gospels are full of instances when Jesus marveled at the faith of those who came to Him. Time and again Jesus asked His disciples, "Where is your faith?" In every situation, and through out Jesus' life on earth, His question for us is always "And when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?" My answer is still,"Yes Lord, Yes!" Here I am! I will go wherever You want me to go and do whatever You want me to do. The further test, though, is whether or not we will actually do His will.

A time of prayer ensued after Barbara and I decided to go. Then, just as we were ready to call the realtor and put our house up for sale - to actually do what the Lord was calling us to do - He opened our mind to remember father Abraham and Isaac. God tested Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. He bound his son, placed him on the altar, and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord stopped him from killing the boy and said, "Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son from me." (Genesis 22)

Barbara and I looked at each other and realized together that what the Lord has always wanted from us is still what He wants today. More than anything, God wants to know that we "fear" Him and will hold nothing back from following His will for our lives. That's the most difficult decision. The test, though, is whether we're willing to act on the decision. It's not until God knows that you will act, that He will give you His blessing. And I am thankful to say today that Barbara and I are blessed!

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