I was away on vacation last week and gave myself a rest. I got some good ideas though, some ideas I have percolating. The one I want to share today is different than usual, I think. Maybe not.
I was thinking about how people operate and talk about their personal orientation in life. I’ll give two examples that are personal, but I think will illustrate what I’m thinking more easily.
The first person is Jim Bakker. Many people know him from when he was on tv, a preacher with PTL ministries. He misappropriated funds and went to jail. He lost his ministry, his wife, everything. He wrote a book after he got out that said ‘I was Wrong.’
The book seemed authentic to me. He faced it head on. I don’t know what he is doing now…he has a tv show, but he sells that book on his web site. What he spoke of before his arrest was in my opinion very pointedly about God blessing Christians financially. Now he has a story. It is an opportunity to talk about what he did, what happened and what he is like now. It’s a testimony.
Number 2: Jimmy Swaggard. I didn’t follow this closely to be sure. The thing of it was that he violated his wedding covenant multiple times while preaching against the very behavior. So he struggled. It is human to struggle. The thing of it is that he showed his hand by what he spent his time preaching on. That was his environment. He told on himself.
The funny thing is that there is no mention on his web site or anywhere I could find where he had dealt with any of it. His web site talks about his ministry and his family, but nothing of a very personal struggle. What he did in his life is the same as millions of people. I understand being ashamed and not talking about it. I am that way too, but what an amazing opportunity it could have been.
To me, it would be awesome if people could face these things head on, but there is fear wrapped around it. The fear of loss of status or money?
The thing is that people know. They know when I’m sober and when I’m not. They know when I’m spending money frivolously or when I’m eating too much sugar, and really bottom line is that I garner more respect if I am honest about my struggles. I’m finding that just opening up makes me wonder what the fear is about?
I have spent a lot of time studying the bible, reading and praying the past 2 years. I have wondered why it was I wasn’t moving forward in my life. I have struggled with grace and obedience. I tried to emphasize grace in my life because I sure wasn’t doing the works or showing fruit.
I was lying to myself.
Finally, finally I am starting to realize that the reason it’s so hard to do good works and show fruit is because it isn’t me who will do those things. I was reading Hannah Whitall Smith‘s book ‘A Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life.’ It is a very simple, old book. In the past 20 years I’ve probably read it 5 times. It’s one of those good ones to revisit from time to time.
Over the past 20 years I have had many, many opportunities to tell my story. I have wanted a ministry, but not the one I was given. I want something else. Something more glamorous. Something that people would admire. The suicidal ideology, depression, anger, fear….it all doesn’t make me look very good. It is clear now that truly you can’t keep what you won’t give away.
I’ll be honest, I cringe at the things I have admitted here. I want to take them down. I don’t, because I think they needed to be written. Some people share only in a general way. Right now, I have to be specific. It’s not like nobody knows.
So, what I read yesterday was very simple. In our relationship to God, out part is to trust and his part is to work. I was thinking about it this morning and I realized that I have struggled and struggled with even wanting to change, but if I do just trust, the work will happen. I will be a more Christlike person because I will see it, I will enjoy it and I won’t even notice whether it’s easy or not.
When Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I think he meant it. I haven’t really believed that in the past, but today I see that it’s 100% true. There is nothing to be afraid of.