Did You Ever Notice?

Did you ever notice that the older we get, the more we come to realize, how little we actually know? 
Did you ever notice how our condescending statements to others, is usually indicative of ourselves?
Have you ever noticed that our attitude on how we approach others, usually dictates how they will respond?

Sometimes, when I am praying to God, He will bring to my remembrance, something that I did many years ago. God did that to me yesterday. He reminded me how I had responded to Him, when He had orchestrated a series of people to come to me, one after another, many years ago. I was in the military at that time and I had snapped a ligament on the inside of one of my knees and had to have it surgically removed. No big deal. The day after the operation I was laying on the bed in the military hospital, with my Bible on my bed. From early in the morning until about 8 PM at night, one person after another came to me and spoke to me about God. It was unreal. The whole day, one after another. A couple were Doctors, a number were nurses and orderlies and there were even some fellow patients. The thing was, it just never stopped. It seemed that as one left, another would approach. 

And it wasn’t because I possessed any great wisdom, it was just down to earth discussion, back and forth, that was friendly and inquisitive. It was good discussion and a good number of people really opened themselves up to me and I shared about Jesus from my heart. As I indicated, about 8 PM in the evening it stopped and I was exhausted. Not physically, but mentally. I have no idea why but I just was. Then God asked me a question. This thought presented itself firmly in my mind.

“If I asked you to do this for Me on a daily basis, would you be willing to do it?” God had just demonstrated to me what only He could do. It had nothing to do with my abilities because they were anything but great. And I said no.

The thing was, I was focusing on me, not on Him. There were a whole bunch of reasons for why I answered as I did but the bottom line was that I looked at my abilities and not what God could do. How stupid was that? But that is where I was at that time. If I had it to do over again I would not answer as I did. That’s not to say that I still would not have reservations about my abilities, but I have learned a few things since then. Being a fast learner when it comes to the things of the Lord is definitely not one of my strong suits.

Heaven only knows what could have been. And that is not to say that God has not used me over the years. Many people have opened themselves up to me, since that day, and I am grateful for all that God has orchestrated. But along the way, I had my own real problems that also needed dealing with. If there was one word that I could choose to encapsulate God’s dealings with me over the years, it would be “grace”. Time and time again. Wonderful grace, totally undeserved grace, lump in your throat grace. 

That statement about coming to realize as you get older, how little you know, is so very very real. “Clueless” is a word I could easily use, because so many times I just don’t know what to do or what to say, to those that I love and care for, that I am fearful for, about their not knowing our Lord or for those who do believe and trust in Him, on how they walk. And of course, there are still so many areas that I myself still need work on. 

I told God yesterday that I was sorry. Truly sorry, because it grieves me of what could have been and most of all, for me letting Him down. God’s grace still dominates my existence. Grace with my walk with Him, grace with my wife and grace with our children and others that we love and care for. I don’t get in God’s way nearly as much as I used to but I still can manage to upset the apple cart from time to time. I don’t sin as much as I used to, but just when I think I am making real progress, God shows me a room in me that I haven’t even noticed was there before and of course, that presumed momentum I felt I possessed, slows down significantly. This has nothing at all to do with humility, it is reality.

I know one thing. God is real. He has proved that to me countless times and I cherish His presence. I have placed my hand in His. God knows what I do not know and God understands what I do not understand and I can and do trust Him. And that in itself is a gift. And I know that God sent us His Son, Jesus, to declare of Himself and show us the way that He is. Jesus personifies our heavenly Father. God is Holy. Wondrously Holy. Beautifully Holy. And I am not.
But Jesus is, and that is why God our Father sent us His Son. And it is all grace, God’s sheer grace. 

I wish I knew back then, what I know now, maybe things would have been different. But then, maybe they wouldn’t, because God knew where I was back then and He knows where I am now and He was waiting for me to know that. 

And how do you say thank you for that?

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

24 comments

  1. This is a beautiful and heartfelt post, Bruce. I am noticing how only God makes sense. Whatever sense I thought I knew about the world makes zero sense and I praise God for His discernment and grace to make it through each day. I am so glad you said yes to a blogging ministry. What God is doing in you and through you with this won’t be realized until glory. Keep pressing on Bruce! Love and blessings to you and Peggy.

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    • Thanks Mandy. Learning how to filter out that which is of the world is not easy, coupled with our own humanistic misconceptions that are just sitting below the surface, trying to push through. Considering what I give God to work with at times in myself, can be disheartening, but then, it isn’t about me or any of us, is it? God’s school and the world’s school are not one and the same and it’s taken me an awful long time to comprehend that, and just barely at that. And yet, trusting in God is where the peace is. You’re a gem Mandy, blessings to you and Nathan as well!

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  2. I’ve had a few moments with God like the one you describe, Bruce. For me, it’s been individual people that He told me to pray with and encourage. I can still see one of my professors at seminary, whose wife had recently died. He was standing near the entrance of the chapel, looking like a lost puppy, while students milled past. Bruce, God told to stop, gather others around, and pray with Dr. Privette, but I kept walking. This dear man who equipped and encouraged so many of us “Preacher Boys” needed support, and I was the guy God asked to do it. There are tears and in my eyes now, because, at least that day, I was the guy who did not. The upside is, God didn’t fire me (there’s the grace you talked about) . He’s asked me to stop and pray with someone several times since then. I’ve don’t recall ever saying no again.

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    • I hear you David, sooner or later we come to realize that just doing what God asks us to do really matters and in faith we move forward. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not, but if God asks us, He will be with us to do whatever it is that He asks us to do. Thank you for sharing David, we all learn from one another. Blessings brother.

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  3. This is an excellent post, and thank you for sharing part of your story here. This is really encouraging to me. May I ask you a question? As you grow older? How do you keep God in his rightful place in your life? I find myself struggling sometimes to make sure God is first and foremost and at the very centre of all I do. Any advice you can share would be gratefully received!

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    • Hi Andy, I do the normal things like prayer in the morning and committing my day to the Lord, especially noting anything that may be challenging that is scheduled during the day. I also pray anytime that I need specific help, be it patience or guidance with regard to anything that God could help me with. Reading God’s Word is also a biggie. I’m fortunate in that I am semi-retired so I can dedicate multiple hours if I want to. I don’t want to give the impression that the “connection” is always there because sometimes it isn’t but that is infrequent. Most times I am just aware of God’s guidance and presence as a “norm”. It’s hard to put into words. I thank God whenever I can for all He does, especially for sending Jesus and putting up with me. I praise God initially in prayer and that is not hard to do because He is so patient with me and forgiving. I acknowledge my need for guidance in just about everything because that is a reality. It’s taking the time to understand how much I need His guidance and being as real as I can with Him. I maintain a prayer list where I pray for others and anything else that God lays across me to consider. I find that God makes me aware of Him via little things that He draws my attention to. Yesterday it was a group of birds eating a chunk of bread on a sidewalk. Awareness of little things is important. Being as patient and kind as I can to my wife is also important. Trusting Him with regard to our grown up children is another. I get up early so that I can still say my prayers and do a post if I want to, without it interrupting my wife’s day. If things aren’t good between my wife and I, which is infrequent, it is hard for the rest to stay, hence I avoid that at all costs. I think we all struggle at times because we react to the unknowns differently, depending on what is happening. God has been through a lot with me and His constant goodness towards me draws me to stay close. I may not always understand why He wants me to leave something with Him but it becomes pretty clear when He does and doing that is really important. I also acknowledge any sin I become aware of, again those little things are important, like slighting someone or looking down on someone unintentionally. It happens. I guess Andy the biggest thing I have learned is that ALL things are important to take the time to ask God’s help with. I didn’t understand that for a number of years. If I slack off, which can happen, I confess that too. It is a day by day walk that builds over time. I use the telephone pole analogy with regard to God stretching our faith in Him to illustrate how it has worked for me. The poles are when you receive a confirmation from God about something and the distance between the poles is where He stretches your faith until the next pole comes along. He is always there, it just takes time to see the series of poles that add up over the years. And some poles are bigger than others and the distance between the poles changes as we are being taught. Short story Andy is we need to understand how directly involved God wants us to be connected with Him. I can’t help but think that one of God’s prime purposes is to help us understand that we CAN trust Him in ALL things and that this reality is vitally important and to be highly valued. And without Him, we can literally do nothing. I don’t know if this helps but I pray that it does. Blessings brother.

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  4. Bruce, thank you for sharing that. I was blessed by it. It brought back to mind two things from my own life. The first one has to do with writing songs. Rick kept telling me I should write songs and I kept telling him, “No, that is not my gift.” Then, in 2011, the Lord gave me my first song to write. But then in 2012 a music producer in Nashville contacted me on LinkedIn about coming to Nashville to record one of the songs the Lord had given me to write. My immediate response was “NO!” without even praying about it. The producer then responded back to me, “Did you pray about it?” Wow! No, I hadn’t.

    So, I did, and the Lord encouraged me to go. My thinking was that I was an old lady with a rusty voice so I was not recording material, but the Lord said, “Go!” and Rick was in agreement, and so we went. But, oh, God had an interesting plan for me. I lost my voice a week before we were to go, so we went totally on faith. I still could not sing up to the moment I stood at the microphone and by faith opened my mouth and there was the voice. It was weak, but it was the voice the Lord wanted me to have for that song and I know the Lord has used that song “For Our Nation” to spread his gospel message to people in the world.

    The other thing your article brought to mind is the calling the Lord put on my life to do what I have been doing these past seventeen years. Rick and I were church planters, and our plan was to take our small house fellowship and to grow it into an organized church plant under our church denomination. But, again, the Lord had other plans for my life. At the District prayer conference for pastors and other official workers (that was us), the Lord called me to this present ministry, although I didn’t really comprehend at that moment what that was going to mean for me. One the speakers said something like this, “Give your ministry over to the Lord. The Lord may have something else for you to do that you would never have imagined.”

    And so I did that. I gave my ministry of church planting over to the Lord and a few months later I had given up church planting and God was calling me to write what he teaches me from his word each day and to put it on the internet, and I would never have imagined ever that this is what I would be doing for the next seventeen years and on until the Lord is finished with me. So, I just wanted to share those two things with you here to encourage you to keep pressing forward in listening to the Lord and to doing what he gives you to do. And don’t say “No” unless you pray about it first. 🙂 God bless you in your ministry. Sue

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    • Thank you Sue for sharing what you shared also. I think you are absolutely right about always asking God what He would have us do. And sometimes the strongest indication of His will for us is the internal witness of God’s Holy Spirit when we do go ahead without asking and enter into an area which He would not have us go. Or we ignore God’s leading and enter into an area that He has already asked us not to go into. Or at least, that is my experience. It is amazing how many times, especially in the last little while, God has allowed me to look at some areas, but has indicated to me through His internal witness, just to leave it alone. I also believe that when He calls us to do something, He will also equip us with all that we need. It can be a delicate balance at times between what I would like to do and what God would have me do but God’s peace comes with following His lead and the realization that without God’s go ahead, we can accomplish nothing. It’s actually all about trust, from start to finish, and even though part of me is concerned because of the shortness of time that I have, I’m learning that my own tendencies are just not the way to go. And the easy burden is indeed trusting. Crazy how long it took to get me here. And an added benefit is the correlation that God sometimes reminds me of, between you and I. Respect and understand whose servant you are. That is the message God has given me with regard to yourself. I’m thinking we are more alike than either of us know, but the end overview for me is to respect you, and I honestly do. And may our gracious Lord also continue to bless you and yours and your ministry Sue. Love in Christ – Bruce

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      • Thank you, Bruce. I can see that growth in you. Yes, God didn’t make us all the same. He gifted each of us differently. We may share some things in common, particularly our faith in Jesus Christ, but I am not going to be you and you are not going to be me, but we can appreciate who God has made us individually. I know that I appreciate you. Well, you might enjoy this:

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  5. Thank you Bruce. This is all part of our sanctification. We are but children of the heavenly Father growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in the blessed fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Blessings.

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    • When all is said and done, it gets pretty simple, doesn’t it Fran? It just takes some of us, like me, a little longer to get there than others. And this is where the peace and joy is. God’s blessings to you and yours also!

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      • Dear Bruse, we are blessed to have a gracious, Heavenly Father who knows what each of His children need, and planned everything for us before the foundation of the world. He takes us through different trials through ages and stages in His timing. He enables us to receive and give encouragement to our sisters and brothers as we strive together to follow Christ in the same mind and spirit. It is the Spirit that plants the seeds, waters, and brings the fruit in us of love, joy, peace, the nature and disposition of our Father and our Savior. Every step brings us closer to His eternal glory. How blessed we are to be His children. Think of me as a big sister who is here to exhort and comfort you. Love and blessings. 🙂

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