I am sitting at our kitchen table having finished a cup of coffee. It is early in the morning. Right now, I am thinking about my work and the day I anticipate. I want to think that the day will matter or count in some way. For me, the day really counts if I am living in the moment with a sense of my own identity and purpose in Jesus.
Yet, I know this is not as easy as it may sound. It is easy to type words like these and see them on a screen and call that reality. I find these words to be much more difficult to live out.
Years ago, I was walking with a friend and his wife through the student center at Abilene Christian University. I suspect that we were all there for some special event. But, I don’t remember. What I do remember is that I apparently was discouraged with my work/ministry. The three of us were walking down the stairs to get a coke and visit. This couple were a few years older than I was. They had been in some sort of full-time ministry role much longer than I.
I don’t know whether or not I actually said that I was discouraged or whether it was obvious by the conversation. As we were walking down the steps to the lower level of the student center, my friend’s wife said to me,
"Jim, our work is far too important to allow it to be destroyed by another mortal."
I have remembered this for many years. I think she saw that day that I was getting overly focused on a person’s destructive attitude and behavior. I was allowing this one person to discourage me and distract me.
This detour can happen to you in your ministry or your family. This detour can take place at work. This detour can happen to you as an ordinary person just trying to deal with life. The detour doesn’t have to be direct opposition to your work or ministry. No, the detour can come as another just finally wears you out.
Sometimes, we allow situations to just finally wear us out. Imagine being in a canoe with another person. You would like to go straight down the river. So, you use your oar in such a way as to cause the canoe to go straight. Your friend, however, seems to be interested in going from one side of the river to the other. You paddle and paddle and then find yourself heading to the side of the river and finally hitting the bank. You get the canoe headed in the right direction again and a minute or two later, you are heading to the other side of the river toward the other bank.
Now that describes the setting in which many of us live, doesn’t it? Do you relate to this? If I am not careful, I can allow all of this to wear me out. I will then forget the whole point of my life (or my ministry, work, etc.).
Now here is a Scripture that I have been reading this morning. I have already gained encouragement from reading this. Perhaps you will be encouraged as well. This is a great reminder as I begin my day. Perhaps it will be a great reminder for you as well.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(II Timothy 4:16-18)