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November newsletter: Photograph

You could see the smoke from a mile away, and trouble always draws a crowd
They wanna tell me that it’ll be okay, but that’s not what I need right now, not while my house is burning down
I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay, but not right now

Tell me if the hope that you know is true ever feels like a lie even from a friend
when their words are salt in an open wound, and they just can’t seem to understand that you haven’t even stopped the bleeding yet

I know someday, I’ll be okay, but not right now, No, not right now
Don’t tell me when I’m grieving, That this happened for a reason
Maybe one day we’ll talk about the dreams that had to die for new ones to come alive
But not right now

 

While I wait for the smoke to clear, you don’t even have to speak
Just sit with me in the ashes here and together we can pray for peace to the One acquainted with our grief
I know someday, I know somehow
I’ll be okay But not right now………………(Music: Not Right Now, written by Jason Gray)

 

I have a thing that Jane just doesn’t get.  Actually, she just thinks it’s weird.  That thing is sitting at my desk and watching the screen saver go from picture to picture on my computer.  You see, all the pictures on my screen saver are pictures I’ve taken over the years traveling in Colorado.  They always look new–fresh to me.  In them, I always seem to see something for the first time, no matter how many times I’ve looked at them.

 

Pictures can be valuable things.  They generally contain memories or histories and some, as in this case, just natural beauty.  But, pictures are only a momentary pause and they cannot represent anything more than that one time, the moment, they were taken.  At various times in our lives, we seem to stop and take a mental picture of our life and define our whole life by that single moment.  In a sense, we redefine our lives by what’s happening only on that day, at that exact time.  We get our picture out and show it to people as though, that’s it, that’s my lot in life, the way it’s going to be.  However, realistically, our lives typically don’t stop and stay in one condition.  Life moves, it’s more likely represented as a movie than by a single picture.  Sure, you can stop and look at a given moment and perhaps get discouraged by what you see at that time.  But truly, the Gospel is an agent of change, maybe in a moment, maybe not an immediate/overnight remedy, but a remedy just the same. Look at Paul’s snapshot: ‘…in stripes above measure, in prisons, more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of Jews, five times received forty stripes, save one.  Thrice beaten with rods, once stoned, thrice suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils in the false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness’ [2 Cor. 11:23-27] (Flash)! (Flash)! (Flash)!

 

I’m as guilty as anyone having occasionally frozen my misery, baptizing it with hopelessness and fear.  Over time, I’ve been adjusting that pattern of behavior.  About 35 years ago, I was in the middle of an important decision that, had I followed through at that time, would have turned out to be a mistake and made matters worse.  I thought I’ll just take things into my own hands, rid myself of the situation, the uneasiness and its weariness.  Instead of letting the Spirit of God speak to my heart and follow Him, I came very close to letting my brain rule and reign in that incidence.  Fortunately, that very day, Jane phoned me at work and relayed to me that one of her friends had just called and, while in prayer, she had received a message for me.  Hebrews 10:35 begins, ‘cast not away your confidence which has great recompense of reward.  For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God you might receive the promise.’  From that day forward my picture-taking to define my life pretty much stopped.  I guess the end result is that I started believing more than ever before in Paul’s advice to ‘judge nothing before its time (season).’ (1 Cor. 4:5)  There have been huge, many times overwhelming, circumstances that Jane and I have faced over the years.  Many of those you’re aware of and some no one but she and I have any knowledge of.   Those two scriptures have been the rudder that guided us though the past few years. We simply know, are firmly convinced, that God is in the middle of our lives no matter what’s going on to us or around us on any given day.  There is no day that He’s not with us no matter what might be going on that day.  Knowing that, knowing that no matter what that day’s picture looks like, gives a confidence that will help you through some rough stuff!  Life can be unfair, cruel, unfavorable, or unstable, but the nature of the Love of God is right in the middle of all that stuff.  He is not just present in the beautiful, but in the storm.  Taking thoughts captive, measuring them by what we know about God is the rule of the day.

 

Additionally, when things do go against us, and we all have that happen occasionally, remember you have a Partner in all situations.  And, importantly, He is not a Partner that has to be persuaded, coerced or begged into stepping into the moment, but a Partner eager to hold, to hope, to encourage, and is a true believer with us.  That Partner’s the same One that stepped into the mess of Eden and joined His creatures in order to provide for them in the middle of their agony.

 

When Jane and I were in Chicago in 2012, she was paralyzed head to toe, on life support, had a battery of doctors and dozens of nurses that met each day to try and get her to tomorrow.  We took no mental pictures or defined our situation by any one day’s circumstances.  We weren’t letting the mental or physical picture that we could obviously see with our eyes define our moment.  We didn’t deny that things were serious, deadly even, but we couldn’t judge any of those days by anything other than what we had learned years before – to not evaluate anything before its season.  Four times in Matthew, once in Mark and two times in Luke, Jesus encouraged us not to take thought of tomorrow.  Jesus was not suggesting we should not hope for or should not plan for tomorrow.  Here, his reference to ‘thought’ is for us not to be anxious or paralyzed with fear about tomorrow.

 

The radio station has in many ways confirmed the necessity of having to ‘live by Faith’.  Someone asked me while we were in Chicago, ‘What’s God teaching you?’  Without thinking about it, my response was, ‘I don’t know about teaching us something new but He’s confirming everything good we’ve ever believed about Him. He’s doing that right here in this terrible moment.”  He is strong when we’re weak; He is faithful when ours has softened a bit.  Our journey has been more of a Faith in Him, rather than a faith in our faith.  I read a quote years ago that when paraphrased goes something like this: ‘God forgive me for trying to interpret You so much all the time instead of just trusting You more’.  Many times the question isn’t how faithful are we to Him, but it’s discovering how profoundly Faithful He is to us. Faith is not something we muster up, drum up, or an intellectual process.  It’s not trying to believe something, it’s relying and trusting Someone.  Faith is personal, intimate, the condition of seeing who God is with fresh clarity.  Life’s like a novel, written with a beginning, middle and a conclusion.  We only read it one page at a time, one day at a time.  Much of our life’s journey is hidden and revealed day by day.  Our role is to be embraced and comforted by His Comfort this day.

 

Paul once described himself as being the same, or constant, no matter his circumstances. Paul had confidence and contentment even in all of those terrible moments mentioned earlier in this letter.  Paul knew the essence of Isa. 59:19: ‘when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’  As Jason wrote in his song…’I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay’.  Maybe not in this day’s snap-shot, maybe not this single day, but I will be okay because of His Faithfulness, His presence, because of the simple and profound God of Love.

 

I’ll finish with this David Crowder lyric in his song Oh How He Loves:

‘He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me.

Knowing that is the beginning of Eternal Life.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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