"...Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
For the past two years we have been calling on the Lord in our "day of trouble." Now to be very honest, compared to what others in this world are going through--some of whom we know personally--our day of trouble has not been that bad and could have always been worse. But two years of unemployment is a troublesome time and two years of being a pastor without a people to shepherd has it's difficult moments to say the least.
And by God's grace we have been calling on the Lord for these past two years. And I do mean "by God's grace." We take no credit for any faithfulness on our part these past two years. We know that just like Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail and it didn't, so He has been praying for us--that our faith would not fail and by His grace it has not.
And so by God's grace we have been calling on the Lord for these past two years. And He has been faithfully delivering us. But as is always the case, He uses means. He has been faithfully delivering us through unbelievably loving and self-sacrificing parents, for which we are thankful. He has been delivering us through loving and generous family members, for which we are so appreciative. He has been delivering us through long-time friends who have seen a need and reached out to meet it, for which we are humbled. He has been delivering us through the most loving and generous church family (led by a one of a kind pastor) we could have ever asked to be a part of this past year and a half, for which we do not know how to express our gratitude and whom leaving will be more difficult than we could have ever imagined a year and a half ago.
And now He is delivering us through answering the prayers we have been praying for over two years. This past Sunday, Cross Roads Baptist Church, voted unanimously to call me as their next pastor. And so in just a few short weeks, our family will be moving to Georgia and beginning a new chapter in our life, a long awaited chapter. And we are very excited to see what the Lord has in store for us, the church family, and the wider community in which we will be serving. We can't wait to get more attached to such a loving congregation that is already being so kind to us and whom we are already growing to love and appreciate.
But as I think back over these two years, I think there was something greater still that the Lord was delivering us from and it took these past two years to "learn" it. It was through this "day of trouble" that the Lord was delivering us from ourselves or more specifically me. He has been delivering us from the idol of self, from looking to ourselves as the answer to our problems. He has been delivering us from the pride of not casting all our anxieties upon Him because He cares for us. That is exactly what anxiousness is--pride. Humility is casting all your anxieties on the Lord and trusting Him to work them out in His time and His way. Pride is being anxious, worrying about all that you are faced with and trying to figure out how to work it out in your time and your way.
But, if your idols are like mine they tend to come back to life. Those idols--especially the idol of self-sufficiency--are constant battles we must face every day until that day when we will no longer walk by faith, but by sight. And so as we move into this new chapter of our life there will be a daily temptation with the issues we face to put our confidence in ourselves and believe the lie that we can handle and solve whatever trial we face. There will be the temptation during this time of "Oh, I can breath easier now, this trial is over" phase and beyond to look at myself and see me as the reason things are "going so well." There is pride and self-sufficiency rearing its ugly head once again. I can no more maintain the relative times of ease than I could solve the relative times of difficulty. To believe otherwise is simply the fruit of a justified, in the process of being sanctified, still waiting to be glorified soul.
And so I pray, that as we have lived Psalm 50:15 over these last couple of years, repeating this pattern of crying out to the Lord and experiencing His deliverance, we have also brought Him glory in both our perseverance and in response to His deliverance. I pray that we have shown His value, worth, and weightiness. I pray that our lives and the trials He has gifted to us have been used by the Lord as His telescope, through which others could look through and see the beauty and magnificence of our God.
But, as I mentioned above, I know my own heart. And I know that over these past two years there have been more than a few times where my heart has been faithless, full of anxiety, trusting in self instead of trusting in the Lord. And I know that in the future there will be more than a few times where my heart will be faithless, full of anxiety, trusting in self instead of trusting in the Lord. And for those times in the past, now, and in the future we cry out to the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing. And there is no doubt that He has, is, and will deliver us. He will deliver us because His Son carried the sin of my anxious, prideful, self-sufficient heart to Calvary and nailed it, along with His flesh to a rugged piece of wood. There His blood has covered my sin of pride, anxiousness, self-sufficiency, and so much more.
But He did not stay dead. He walked out of that tomb of death. And in walking out of that tomb alive from the dead, He proved two things. First, He was a suitable sacrifice. He was spotless with no sin of His own. He was never anxious. He was never prideful. He was never faithless. He was perfect. He is my perfection. He is my righteousness. And secondly, because He was a perfect, sinless sacrifice, His death in our place for our sins has been accepted by the Father. We are now righteous and accepted because of His righteousness and acceptance. It is the substance of this truth, this Gospel, this Good News, that we cry out to the Lord in faith, trusting that He will deliver us because of this Good News, and the result will be that He receives the glory.
And so I pray, that as we have, so may we continue to call out to Him in the day of trouble (whether it be the trouble of our trials or the trouble of our sin) with full confidence that He will deliver us and we will glorify Him.