Jump Start # 3490
Psalms 37:25 “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His descendants begging bread.”
I was listening to a financial program recently and the guest host talked about his financial struggles and mistakes he had made early in his marriage. It had been a journey for him. A long journey. He stated, “I wish someone had told me what I know now.”
That statement, “I wish someone had told me,” could be true of about all of life. Much of what we learn and experience comes from the choices we make and pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It is rare for someone to detail everything you need to know to navigate wisely in life.
This is true in parenting. The diaper years. The terrible twos. The teen years. No amount of wisdom or books can truly prepare you. This is true of most careers, even preaching. Those of us that have trained young men to preach can guide them, but every congregation has it’s own flavor, unique challenges and atmosphere. It is impossible to fully prepare someone for all of that. I know for myself, when I first started preaching full time I was with a small church that did not have elders. I had never been in a business meeting in my life. No one had ever told me about them. Boy, my eyes were opened and I learned some things quickly.
But if we were to make a list of “What I wish someone would have told me,” when I first became a Christian, what would you include on that list? Here are a few of my thoughts:
First, You do not live your entire life in one day. Your journey with the Lord is day in and day out. One mistake or sin does not mean you have failed. Nor, does one victory mean that you have completed the race. Day in and day out. Good days. Bad days. Happy days. Sad days. Special deals and normal days. Sundays and Mondays. Sundays and Saturdays. Holidays and weekdays. Traveling and staying home. It is important to build a strong faith that will last. Enduring is the key. There is something about special days. We seem to be ready for them. It’s the ordinary plain days that can be long, hard and straining on our faith.
Second, there are moments in your life that are hard. There are days that we do not feel close to the Lord. There are times when you have become sluggish and may even feel like you are going through the motions. There are some giants you face and some mountains in your path that make you think that you cannot go on.
But, you do go on. You go on when it is hard. You go on when you don’t feel like it. You’ll get down to the church building on days when you may not want to. You’ll fellowship when you’d rather be alone. You’ll give when the money is tight. You’ll pick up that Bible and read when you would rather do something else. You do these things because you know they are right. You do these things because of the spiritual habits that you have developed. These habits have carried you and made a difference in your life.
Getting back to worship after a funeral or a divorce or even an apology you had to offer is hard. Satan always offers the easy exit ramp. Be safe. Do what you want to do, is what Satan always tells us. But we know better. As hard as it is, we push onward. And, in the end, we are glad that we did. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.
Third, there will be some brethren who disappoint you. In theory we are all journeying together but some seem stuck. Some are negative. Some want to complain. Some seem to stand in the way. There will be some that may hurt your feelings. There will be some who act more like the world than they do a Christian. There will be some who say things that should never be said. You will see some out and about doing things that they should not do.
Remember, none of us are perfect, nor without sin. Also, remember, we are all on a journey. Some are ahead of us. Some are beside us. Some are behind us. We are not at the same place in maturity and knowledge. Some just don’t get it. They were baptized but they were never converted or changed. There is very little difference between them and the world. This is disappointing. For Paul, there was Alexander, who did him much harm. There was Demas, who deserted him.
When leaders disappoint, it is especially hard. Some break promises. Some say mean things. Some can seem cold and indifferent. Our faith is in the Lord, not the church. The Lord is our Savior, not the church. When you put your faith in others, you will be disappointed. Some will let you down. Some will take advantage of you. The Lord will never treat you that way. The Lord will never hurt you.
But, also keep in mind, all the wonderful brethren, worldwide, who walk closely to the Lord, who are trying their best. You are loved, accepted and fellowshipped by so many. Don’t focus on those want to stop and go the other way. Keep your eyes on Jesus and you’ll see a crowd of the best people on the face of the earth right with you.
I wish they had told me…sometimes, it’s just best to learn these things on our own.