The Challenge of Good Times

I was off on the schedule for my story being featured at Timberline Church. It will be next Saturday and Sunday. That timing will be special because this Wednesday marks the anniversary of my return home from the hospital. And oddly enough next Saturday will mark the anniversary of my return to the hospital with my first of several infections that I have encountered in this past year.

This time of the year is a good time for me to reflect on the incredible support that I have received since my initial hospitalization. Debbie pulled out the sacks of card and notes that I have received. I also was looking at the list of names of individuals who opened their hearts and “pocketbooks” and donated to a medical relief fund which has been such a blessing during this time. One of those was a lady that I don’t know personally, but because of an endorsement from Fort Collins State Senator John Kafalas sent a donation.  There were even a few kids who gave out of their allowance!

This in addition to the personal cards, notes and letters from those I have known over my life that wrote to not only encourage me but to express the value of my impact on their life. It is all very humbling for sure. It is also one of the ways that Lord uses to reveal His love and to keep us going. I still recall the note from one of my sister-in-law’s students in California who said, “get better, we are all counting on you!” Wow!

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”  Galatians 3:3 NLT  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

As I reflect on trusting God in tough times, I believe it is important to understand that “good times” “trouble free times” can be as much as challenge to our spiritual life. The Apostle Paul said,   “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Paul faced his troubles, trials and tribulations, but when he wrote to the Philippians and said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” (Phil 4:13) he included “good times” as well. The verse before this he says, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” We seldom think of Christ’s strength that is needed in “plenty and abundance.”

As Paul writes to the Galatians he warns them about depending on their ability to fulfill the law as a mean of attaining righteousness, rather than depending continually on the grace of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit.

When we look at the Old Testament I think of Samson who in spite of his lifestyle, God used him to win many victories for God’s people. But the point came where he divulged the secret of his strength and woke up and “knew not the Lord had left him.”

I think of King Solomon who was the wisest and wealthiest King of Israel, but having started his rule in humility seeking wisdom to govern rightly, he eventually took foreign wives. This was not only against God’s direct command, but it showed he was relying on the wisdom of the day that said that way you secure your rule is to make allegiance through marriage with surrounding nations.

Growing up in Denver I was well acquainted with Charles Blair and Calvary Temple. Pastor Blair was a great leader and innovator and built the one of the first mega-churches in America in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  The title of the book that chronicles his life and the financial downfall of the church speaks volumes, “The Man Who Could  Do No Wrong.”

When “life is good” our prayer life can wane; our need of God’s daily provision is taken for granted; we begin to assume on the grace of God and depend on our intellect and abilities to make decisions and get us through each day. Pastor Day from Timberline commented about God’s protective grace over the world and said, “if God’s grace was lifted you would not have the ability to make it through the day.” (my paraphrase).

I am thankful for God’s grace, provision and strength in my life during this time of illness and recovery. But one thing that I have learned is how consistent I need to be in staying close to Him and trusting Him each day. With Paul I want to say with confidence, “the life I live, I live by faith (each and every day) in the One who loved me and gave His life for me.”