Content warning :) If you are someone who thinks their Minister should be perfect and/or should not show their weaknesses then stop reading now :)
As I write this I first want to acknowledge that the "battle" I am in is nowhere near as big a battle or as life-threatening as some of you are facing in your lives right now. And maybe that's the point of me sharing this today. Maybe you need to know the strategies I'm using so that you too can use them to help you in the midst of your battle.
Without going into all the details let me just say that just over 2 weeks ago I had a "bombshell" dropped on me when something happened that I had never expected; something which has still to play out fully; something which has required action which is absorbing more of my time, emotional and physical energy than I would like.
The what is not important other than for you to know that it is property not person related. It's my response to it that I want to share and hopefully by my sharing it, it will help you when you go through battles in your life.
You've heard me say many times that our first step should always be to take our problems to God in prayer. I did - once I had got over the initial shock I asked God "what do I do?" And immediately he gave me an answer and I took that step.
BUT that's when my natural analytical self took over. To quote from my devotional yesterday (Because as I read it I knew this described me!) "I tend to be an over-thinker. I would think through every possible outcome even before it would happen." And that's what I did. I started imagining all the things that could happen, many of them not very good. I woke up in the middle of the night. I was (well still am a little) stressed over it. I couldn't focus on other things like my role as your Minister, my role as National Secretary and that first week it was a struggle to bring together Sunday's message. But God came through on all those!
Throughout it all, God has been quietly speaking to me - through his Word, through bringing the messages I have given you over the years to mind, through the words of others, through devotional plans on the YouVersion Bible app, through the still spoken voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me of his Word. Reminding me of Scriptures that remind me of the peace that he wants to give me (John 14:27), that the battle is his (1 Samuel 17:47); that he wants me to give him all my concerns and worries (Matthew 11:28) and that I need to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10).
I'm now at peace (most of the time) about the situation because I know God has this in hand. In fact I'm pretty confident that I know what that plan is. But I find myself unsure and the feeling is not one I can put into words right now.
If you've read this far well done - but let's get to the lessons I feel God is wanting me to share. How did I get from stressed and worrying to being at peace most of the time?
- I gave my problem to God and when I realised (as I did many times) that I had taken it back because I was fretting and worrying I gave it back to him. I literally said "Lord I give this problem to you." "Lord I give this problem back to you." And often when I woke in the middle of the night I repeated that over and over so that I would not dwell on the possibly bad consequences.
- I sought out devotionals on "peace" on the YouVersion Bible app.
- When the opportunity arose I asked for prayer. I probably should have reached out proactively more, but that is one area I struggle in - asking for help.
- When appropriate I took the opportunities when other Ministers and mentors would ask "how are you" - to open up, to be honest. And I listened to their counsel and advice. One piece of advice was critical in my journey - be silent and allow God to speak in the silence. Critical probably because the person had received that message from God for me!
There are, I believe several "reasons" why this is happening right now for me. But I'm not going into those here other than to say it will be the same for you whether you are facing challenges now and/or you face them in the future.
My hope as I wrap this up today is that by sharing my journey over the last couple of weeks that it might help you as you go through tough times in your life. That the strategies I have used may help you too. That the verses God brought to mind for me will help you too.
One final word - please do not think you can't bring me your concerns, problems and situations because of what I've shared. God will equip and empower me to be there for you how and when he needs me to be.
Blessings for your week. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday hopefully in Level 1.