Saturday night I wandered off to the land of Nod about 8:30 p.m.. I am an early riser. If I don't get my rest on the front end I'm not going to get it. Sunday's docket was pretty straightforward: Tweak message, preach twice, sit down for a brief meeting, then hit the road for a trip to Memphis and the birth of a new grandchild.
At ten o'clock, Shannan woke me up to tell me that my mom (96 years old) had taken a tumble. Think, "I've fallen and I can't get up." You have to know my mom. She is a sweet lady -- and very determined. If she says she cannot get up, it's serious.
I called a doctor friend, then the EMTs. The paramedics came. Mom took a late-night "joy ride" and X-rays confirmed what we had anticipated. Mom broke her hip. So now it is 1:30 a.m. and Shannan and I are with mom in the ER waiting for a room assignment. At 2:30 a.m., still no room assignment and I'm thinking, "I've got to get a little rest!"
Side note: I love the work God has assigned me, but preaching takes its toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The minute I woke up from my "nap" on Saturday evening, I knew it was going to be a short night and I had a big day in front of me. Shannan stayed with mom and I ran home for nap #2 before getting to the office at 5:15 to get back to work.
Despite my fatigue, and despite my worries and insecurities, the Lord came through. Mom got a room (at 5:00), and then surgery (she is making very good progress). I got the rest of my message. The church had two great times of worship. My meeting was productive, and Shannan I were still able to make the drive to Memphis (though still no baby yet).
I was reflecting on all of this during our Monday drive. While I would not want to repeat the events of Saturday/Sunday, I did see God at work in the midst of it. This made me stop and think about some of the ways/times I "see God."
- I see God when I embrace my weakness.
- Sunday I was operating on a little sleep. Inside I was fussing and fuming because I knew my message wasn't where it needed to be. Not only was I tired, but I was running out of time to get ready. In that moment the Lord brought to mind this verse, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Not "Get busy and know," but "Be still and know." He also reminded me that his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I embrace weakness (my inability), I watch God display his ability. I saw God do this on Sunday.
- I see God when I discover and use my gifts.
- One thing preaching has taught me is that "God comes through." It is a phrase I have written repeatedly in my journal. I am no longer surprised by this. In fact, I expect it. And why not? I am using a gift God gave me. Spiritual gifts are given to us by the Spirit of God for the edification of the church (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4). I can be confident -- and I am -- that God is going to deliver what I need to use the gift he has given me. I saw God do this on Sunday.
- I see God when I pray.
- The more specific my prayers, the more specific the answers. James reminds us to ask: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him" (James 1:5). James also reminds me that I don't have either because I don't ask or I am asking selfishly (James 4:2-3). In short, I "see God" when I pray.
- I see God when I give.
- There are few opportunities to "see God" as when we give back to him. In Malachi, God tells the nation of Israel to "put him to the test" in this matter (Malachi 3:10). In 2 Corinthians 9:6, God reminds me through Paul that generous giving results in generous receiving (so we can be generous again). See also Luke 6:38 where Jesus tells us we can't out give him. Shannan and I believe this. We practice this. We "see God" when we give.
These are not the only times we "see God." God's glory is reflected in creation (Psalm 19, Romans 1). God's presence is real in worship (Psalm 22:3). And we experience God's work in the Lord's Supper as we remember and reflect on what Jesus did for us (1 Corinthians 10, 11).
The Lord is teaching me not to shy away from the stuff that makes me uncomfortable, for it is often in those moments that I "see him" most clearly.