Friday, January 14, 2022

Watersheds: What radical shifts define your life?

There have been several points in my life where a radical shift took place. The first was being born. That's a radical shift, from not-existing to existing. 

Others took place. Going from teens to twenties. 18 to 27 was the most destructive period of my life. Total disaster. Yet the mental hospitals, and jail stints served a useful purpose, crushing my ego to the point of being willing to hear what I did not want to hear. 

And then after years of addiction, coming to Christ, and becoming free was huge. Going from enslaved junky to set free saint is a massive shift. That was like going from living darkness to being a light, truly an unthinkably huge shift.

But recently, there was a similarly severe shift. For 7 years I had been serving in ministry as chiefly a yeoman-type worker. I was frontlines. I was rarely a leader aside from leading a Bible study, or leading a small group.  And that changed in 2019 when I was ordained as a minister. That was the most radical shift in recent memory, going from being a sort of middle intern, to a church leader. It was such a massive shift in lifestyle and perspective.  I never knew leadership was so difficult. But it certainly is. 

What radical shifts define your life? That's the question I want to pose to you today.  God has those shifts set for you in your life. They are coming. Perhaps you are in one now, and you don't even realize it?

Every single human being ever born goes through them. In fact Jesus himself went through them as well, going from new born baby to toddler, and youth to teen, and teen to young adult, and so on.  We all endure various shifts in our growth process. 

Where are you at in the endless watersheds of life? There are big ones and small ones.  A small one might be learning a new sport. A big one would be something like getting married, or having a baby, or taking on a job with new responsibilities.

However, sometimes we can get stuck in life. We can get stuck in the growth process. I was effectively stuck for about 9 years in a state of ego and repeating loops of refusing to learn things I needed to learn. So I found myself trapped in a repeating disaster, that was addiction. You get stuck, and end up a beggar on the side of the road in your own story. Very tragic, but it happens to more people than you think. It doesn't have to be addiction either, many more I'm sure simply get stuck in wrong beliefs, or broken philosophies, or selfish attitudes, or pleasure-seeking roads, or end up in the wrong careers, with the wrong people, and in the wrong places, and God sovereignly calls them out, but they are intent on going their own way and refuse to walk down the route God has for them. Can anyone relate?  Some even die that way, but I digress.

We're going to assume we're on the right path, at the center of God's will for our lives, which is indeed a beautiful place to be. Are you at the center of God's will for your life, are you traveling the narrow road? If so, then we consider watersheds.

God has watersheds for your life.  Massive shifts. Total changes.  The hardest yet for me was shifting from seminarian to minister.  I must admit I selfishly thought, watching many ministers and officers that such positions were easy and I wondered why they didn't do more and work harder. Then I felt the pressure of it first hand. I felt the difficulties building up.  I felt the intense spiritual warfare that takes place as you find yourself a higher priority target attacked by demons and demonic powers constantly.  It's absolutely insane.  

The enemy seeks to exhaust the saints. So controversy after controversy would hit. One after another, some bigger, some smaller. All intended to weaken me one by one.  It's similar to Elijah, he won a great victory against the false prophets of Baal. There were so many encounters before that and years staying with a widow, trusting God for food. But after his victory at mount Horeb, he was exhausted and then he received word that Jezebel wanted him dead. A small thing, all things considered right? He had been harassed and hunted for years. But it was spiritual. And it was the straw that broke the camels back.

I've faced similar things. There is a great victory. But then some subtle wind hits, some negative news, some sickness, some minor inconvenience and it crushes you. And you lose it for a while. You go a little crazy, you might say. 

That is the severe battle I face as a leader is the battle of my "controversy tank."  It's like I have a tank full of ability and resolve and zeal and courage built up to deal with various big and small controversies, an employee becomes difficult, many miss a church service, someone must be disciplined biblically, an event with many preparations, a one on one meeting with a superior, submission of statistics, gathering of data, family relations strained, disagreements with friends, and eventually the tank is drained. And the enemy knows just how to drain my tank.  And when the tank is empty, he hits again, sometimes hard, sometimes soft, and I must collapse, and cry out to God, and God helps me, my tank is expanded in the effort, and I grow. 

This is very difficult.  

Four simple words, but how much they mean. 

So message to you here for the day is simple, are you ready for the next radical shift God has for you?  You may find it very difficult as well. But that's OK.  Endure the difficulties.  Keep going when you are past your reservoir, then cry out to God in bitter tears, sleep, have a bit to eat, and keep going.  You will find new strength. But don't give up. Don't quit. You may find yourself a beggar on the road, in your own journey. Keep going. Persevere. Just as Christ did.  Imagine if Christ had walked away in the garden the night before his crucifixion and fled into the night to some distant region? That would not be well for our eternal hope. However, if you find yourself running from God, perhaps you can also turn around, in the belly of the whale, like Jonah, and become the hero you were always meant to be.