The Lord Stood By My Side

canoeing.jpgI 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)

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13 thoughts on “The Lord Stood By My Side

  1. Jim,  I certainly can relate to your note and appreciate the encouragement it brings to me.  I feel like I’m in the canoe.  Half the time, I feel like some other external "agenda" is constantly driving me into the bank, and at other times, I find myself conflicted with an internal agenda, stroking madly for anything except a continuation in the stream.  This vocation is difficult and often lonely.  I needed the reminder that I’m not alone in the boat.  I need to allow the Lord to steer, following His lead.

  2. Jim, thanks for a great reminder.  I love your friend’s take – "our work is too important to allow it to be destroyed by another mortal."  Timely.

  3. Jim, a really fine post on what we all know is important.  "The Lord stood by me and supported me."  What an expression!  What a thought!
    "The Lord stood by me and supported me."  What an expression!  What a thought!
    I really like the canoe analogy and would like to use it in my own teaching sometime.  Something I might add:  When we have those canoe experiences, one thing that can keep us humble is to know that there have been times when WE were the ones making someone else’s canoe go back and forth.  C.S. Lewis wrote an essay about this.  I think it’s called "The Trouble With ‘X’."   We all tend to gripe about someone else: "X"   But who is it who complains about you?  And what do they say?  You’re someone else’s "X"
    P.S.  Lewis clearly wrote the essay before the rapid rise of divorce.  Nowadays, a lot of people have an "EX" that they complain about.  I mention this because, if you preacher types refer to the Lewis essay, you’ll want to somehow adjust the language.  Otherwise, it gets awkward and confusing.  Trust me on this one.

  4. Jim,

    What wonderful thoughts, parables, and scripture. I love the thought of ‘being in the moment.’ I am most challenged by your phrase – this is much easier to type than to do… or as you said it, “It is easy to type words like these and see them on a screen and call that reality.”

    Today I was challenged by a thought from Merton – that seems to coincide with the themes you are discussing and thinking about here… “I only have time for reality.” This seems to distill down many of your thoughts into a compact, almost poetic phrase. Something I have been rolling about in my mind.

  5. Ben,I relate to that "external agenda."  It is amazing how that can seem so important to others and almost take on a life of its own.

  6. Frank,Thanks so much for the information regarding the C.S. Lewis essay.  I am not familiar with it.  I look forward to reading it.I like what you said regarding what keeps us humble.

  7. Doug,I really like this line!  I wish I knew where it was from.  It packs a great deal within a few words.