"God, have you forgotten me?"
Let me back up for a minute. Today's culture is looking for the most comfortable moment or experience to find solace. We want the perfection of the Garden of Eden. We live for the next spiritual high that revolves around the environment, people and circumstance.
It is a restless appetite for a comfortable feeling or moment. It is a punching at the air for the perfect day.
It is trying to find solace in a vacation (or next year's vacation). It is wishing to have that "perfect" job. All of those desires are not wrong. My question is, "what is next?"
God continually teaches me the gospel. I'm grateful for His patience. I remember a time in my life early in ministry. I started my first full-time job in student ministry. I was engaged to my wife Cassidy and my brother was fighting cancer (Read more HERE). I was overwhelmed with the job expectations, upcoming marriage, tough finances, and my brother's cancer. My health was affected by stress. My throat tightened up which caused me to have digestive issues. My mind was always racing. I was irritable. My stress turned into working harder and harder in ministry. Jordan was fighting cancer as me and my family did all that we could to help him. My brother went to be with Jesus two months after being married to my wife, Cassidy. I felt like I was in a whirlwind. My sails for ministry lost their wind. I felt as if I was scratching by to teach God's Word. I was tired of listening to people's ongoing explanations of why this had happened to Jordan. I remember the funeral and how my Mom and Dad took the lead to share the gospel in front of a packed church. I remember the silence and questions with no answers. My life was changed by the impact of Jordan. His overwhelming peace and encouragement amidst the pain revealed His relationship with Jesus.
The grace of the gospel has shown me: - My Dad (Jimmy) has been faithful to leading people to Jesus as a Pastor for over 35+ years in ministry. I'm grateful He is faithful to God and our family. He rarely hangs up the phone without praying for me. - My Mom (Jennifer) showed Jordan hour-by-hour attention. Her undying love for Jesus continues to flow through her life. She spends most of her week at the Piedmont Women's center where they help girls save their babies from the abortion clinic. I love hearing her share stories of girls coming to know Jesus. - My younger brother Justin has a clear passion in his life to make an impact for the gospel. He is an up and coming movie director who creates film that impacts people with Christ. He has turned his pain into passion. Justin has formed a vision of living vicariously through the power of Jesus and an honor of Jordan’s life. - My older brother Jeff is faithfully leading a church in Virginia and finishing His PhD. at Liberty University. Jeff's passion to reach this generation with truth is contagious. I'm grateful for an older brother that leads me by example.
What I am slowly learning is that the only way to find true life is to be at peace in my heart with Jesus.
Knowing Jesus is an inner joy that flows out of "being still and knowing that He is God." The pain that life will bring can feel like a roller coaster. Life is a gift. Every moment is precious. Every person is special in God's sight.
It is almost as if God asks, "Josh, what do you really want?"
I pray my response is that my heart's desire flows out of my relationship with Jesus. The life I plan is subject to His greater plans. What I want to be is the man God created me to become.
It reminds me of wise words from my brother Jordan. He told me even amidst the pain of cancer, "why worry about something I cannot control?" My heart hurts anytime I think of Jordan. But I know that Jordan lived for a person greater than the pain. His name is Jesus.
The gospel is much more than a comfortable seat on Sunday mornings. The gospel is much more than a prayer. The gospel is much more than a tract we hand out. The gospel is much more than winning a theological debate in seminary. The gospel is much more than our 401(k). The gospel is much more than knowing the right answers.
The gospel is the grace of Jesus saving us and changing us to be His light to a lost and dying world.
Has God forgotten me or you? No. He is simply working His gospel story through our lives. Earth is not our home, we are simply making Jesus famous!
The question we must ask is, "What will you do with the life I have given you?"
"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13-14