This past weekend was the first weekend in June! This holds a significant spot in our lives, and yet I didn’t wake up last Sunday morning with an awareness of the calendar.
In the class we attended on Sunday morning, someone asked what keeps us as believers from accepting whatever comes our way as from God? Why do we have weak faith and operate out of fear when we have a track-record with God’s faithfulness in our lives? I answered and talked about how we don’t talk about those times He has been faithful; we have a short memory, so we need to have times of remembering and talking about His faithfulness over and over again.
Then, we went to the worship service. I have still given no thought to the fact that this was the first weekend in June. The pastor is preaching in Matthew about the time James and John’s mom asked Jesus to let them sit on each side of Him in Heaven. He mentioned “A Parent’s Mission”—this mom truly believed Jesus was God and brought a bold request to Him. Can’t fault her for that part.
Then, the pastor moved to “A Parent’s Mistake”—she was praying selfishly. He then referenced James 4, and my ears perked up and a flood of remembrances came to my heart and mind.
The first weekend of June 2010, Josh and I were sitting in worship at First Baptist Woodstock and Pastor Johnny preached the beginning of James 4. It was as if Josh and I were the only ones in the room that day. As a result of what we heard and the Spirit’s movement in our hearts, we knew we were to sell the “dream home” we had built and lived in for less than a year. I have blogged about it before ( What a difference a year makes! and What a difference a year makes! Part Two and March Brings Back Memories) God did a good work in our hearts through that struggle. And that first weekend in June 2010 marked me.
The very next year, the first weekend of June 2011, our Pastor asked us to go to dinner. As we drove to the restaurant, I told Josh, “You know this weekend is the weekend last year when God spoke to us in service about selling our house.” No one else knew that. Well, Pastor Johnny asked Josh to come work for him as his director of Timothy+Barnabas. What an honor and what an opportunity! And what a personal God. We could not have taken on this job if our lives had been so cluttered with all that we had on our plates in our new “dream home.” God used the selling of our home to begin an unraveling of sorts from earthly, temporal pleasures (read the previous blogs to understand more fully).
So, you would think that we would use the first weekend of June to remember this work the Lord started. We should, at the very least, talk about it with our kids and tell them the story again. They were so little when it happened and even if we told them last year, they likely haven’t remembered all of it on their own, so repeating the story of God’s personal goodness to us would be so beneficial!
I was encouraged by the Lord on Sunday when the pastor ended his message with Matthew 20:26-27. Jesus is wrapping up this “episode” with his disciples about who will sit where and who is the greatest with “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” Jesus turned greatness and success on its head. And the question to the congregation was “How do you know if you are living out this truth?” The pastor followed with questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate if this truth is being shown through our lives.
Am I willing to sacrifice myself in Jesus’ name for the sake of others? Am I willing to serve in hard places? Am I willing to serve in lonely places? Am I willing to serve in demanding places? Am I willing to spend and be spent? Do I really want to honor God in The Kingdom? Am I willing to be criticized with out harboring bitterness? Am I willing to withstand suffering without giving in to self-pity?
Then, he also asked, “Are you more like Jesus (referencing all those questions) this first Sunday in June that you were in June 2012? than you were last June?”
And it all kind of came to an encouraging point for me. I can answer YES to that question. God has been so faithful over my whole life. Specifically, He has most definitely used circumstances of my life to make me more like Christ since June 2010 as we sat in that sanctuary in Woodstock. And this June 2017 as we sat in the sanctuary in Charlotte, we still face struggles and difficulties, but we face them differently than we did in 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or 2013….there has been growth and movement with the Lord as we have fallen more in love with His Word and His presence. As we have sought and attained earthly desires and they have fallen woefully short of satisfying, Jesus has been there to point us more and more to Himself——the only One who can satisfy.
And how appropriate that at the center of the wall we face in the sanctuary, there is a beautiful stain-glassed picture of the woman at the well and Jesus.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Later in John 4 we see that she goes into the city to the men and said, “Come see a man who told me all the things that I have done.” I imagine she may have retold her story many, many times. I would think that every single time she went to draw water she was remembering the day Jesus met her there, washed her sins away and satisfied her dry heart. Her search for what satisfies was over. Let’s be faithful to tell others of the times when Jesus meets us right where we are, forgives us and brings satisfaction to our searching hearts. We are all thirsty for these refreshing, encouraging stories. And we can be assured that Jesus will use our personal stories of His faithfulness to encourage others to see Him for who He is– the Savior of the world.
“Many more believed because of His Word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'”