I can be really dense sometimes. I can. I've been a Christian since I was little. An active believer and leader in the church since I was 16. I have over 20 years of ministry experience. I have watched God do incredible things in the people around me. I have testimony after testimony of what God has done IN MY life. And yet, none of that matter when last week I found myself at another crisis of faith.
I woke up one morning and from out of nowhere, satan bombarded me with accusations of failure, weakness, and lack of faith. I struggled with thoughts like, I was failing as a father; that I could give my kids the time they needed. I thought, why was I called to pastor the church, I am so inadequate and unworthy.
You see, things have been really good lately. We're seeing fruit at Harvest. Preaching has been fun and powerful. Relationships are being strengthened. My own personal quiet time has been amazing, and my prayer time is awesome. And then it hit. It's amazing how quickly we forget God's faithfulness, especially when satan gets ahold of your ear.
But the reality is, God IS faithful.
Within 24 hours of my "crisis" God had reminded me that when he is at work in a life, he is relentless in accomplishing his goals. It didn't take much for me to be reminded that I am called to teach and preach; to care for and shepherd his people.
Within 48 hours, God confirmed, once again, His call. You'd firgure by now, I'd get over this doubt thing, but it's harder than you think.
Consider God's prophet, Elijah. Elijah was an awesome servant of God. I mean, when it came to proclaiming God's message, Elijah did it in big ways. For instance, In 1 Kings. we find Elijah on Mount Carmel with about 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. (Baal and Asherah were both false gods that the people had started worshiping.) it was time to call them out, and remind the people who the real God was! So in a challenge of power, Elijah tells the prophets to build an alter to their gods, sacrifice an animal on it and then call down fire from their gods to consume the sacrifice. After a couple hours of dancing, calling, crying, self mutilation, nothing happened. Elijahs turn.
Elijah builds his alter, cuts up the sacrifice, and get everything ready. But before he prays, he has the people pour 4 large pots of water over the alter. He then said, to do it again. Then a third time. That's 12 large jars of water poured over the meat, the wood, the stones. Then Elijah prayed, "Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
At that, God rained down fire from heaven that consumed everything! And I mean everything! it was an amazing scene! I triumph for God. and it had to do something to Elijah. I mean, come on, you were just part of an incredible God-thing, you have got to be flying high!!
But when the queen heard what Elijah did from her king-hubby, she was furious and said, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” (1 Kings 19:2b.) That's a pretty serious threat. But surely, Elijah isn't bothered by the mere words of a woman, right?
Not quite. Look at what the Bible says.
"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep." (1 Kings 19:3-5)
You want to talk about a crisis of faith, Elijah raises the bar. (Or maybe lowers the bar?) How do you go from such an event as to watch God rain down fire from heaven, and the very next day you're praying that God would end your life?
I think the same can be said of many of us, especially those called into full time teaching ministry. One day, boldly proclaiming God's promises. The next day, filled with fear and doubt and ready to call it quits. It's an amazing roller coaster of emotions. So what do you do?
We trust God. I know it's sometime easier said than done, but that's what we have to do. Trust God.
Remember, we're only human. God knows that. In fact, I believe crisis' of faith like these these are sometimes what he uses to draw us back to him. Think about it. How easy would it be to be part of some awesome God movement and come out thinking, Look at me...Check out what I'm doing! Humility is too often a problem, especially for those who are part of God's work. But as leaders and as disciples, we must always be willing to set our pride aside and realize that God is the one doing the work. We only do what the Father is already doing.
Jesus puts himself in the same position. In John 5:19 Jesus says this, "Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'"
We are limited in this life by what God is doing. And it makes sense that when big things happen our faith soars. However, after the big event comes those moments of wonder, fear, anxiety, and doubt. And satan would like nothing better than to keep you wrapped up in those dark, lonely places. But don't give in. Remember that God is still with you. and regardless of your situation, he is still working his purposes out in you and through you.
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