Peninsula Community Church
June 17, 2012
“God is Writing Your Story”
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I want to begin this message by looking back at a period of time in my life that I thought my story was over and a period of time that I thought that I had missed what God wanted me to do. Prior to this period of time I had always told people that I did not believe in mid-life crisis’ but the events of late 2005 and early 2006 would change my mind about this.
As I have shared with you many times we moved to VA in 2003 after pasturing a church onLong Islandfor 10 plus years. We definitely felt God leading us to resign and felt His call for us to trust him which we attempted to do to the best of our ability. During this transition I was asked to come on staff at Radford Baptist church in May of 2004.
The following summer the youth pastor resigned and then in late November I had the senior pastor come to me office where he told me that he would be resigning as the senior pastor that Sunday. Now what you must know is that I was not a Southern Baptist and any new pastor coming into the position could let me go or he could bring in his own staff and replace the current staff. So, I became worried that my position was tentative and was not guaranteed. I must be honest with you that I thought my ministry was done. I was not aware of any openings in churches that would be available and I thought that my life was to forever change. My emotions nonetheless were running high. I felt that I was not accepted.
Two weeks later we received a phone call from our son who informed us that he was living with girl, the girl was now pregnant and when I pursued the question of whether or not he would marry her he informed me that he could not marry her because he had to get a divorce. In 45 minutes he had in fact explained how he was living an antithetical life to everything we had raised him to live and to be. Needless to say that conversation did a number on my emotions. I thought I can I stand in the pulpit again when my son has blown it so big. I felt that I was not good enough.
By April of the following year the church selected a new senior pastor. He was the youth pastor who had been hired in August to replace the prior youth pastor who had resigned in August. While I had been considered for the role the youth pastor the church felt that the youth pastor was more of what they were looking for and so they chose him over me. He was 17 years younger than I and had only a couple of years of senior pastor experience. The selection committee and the boards said that I could train and help mentor him in the position. The fact is during this time I felt rejected.
In May, Michelle and I were getting ready to go out and I heard her scream in the other room where she had passed out. We went to the doctor and they did a cat scan but there was nothing conclusive. On July 15 Michelle was in the kitchen making breakfast when I heard her scream again and found that she was on the verge of passing out. This time we rushed to the hospital where she was admitted for a five day stay. During this visit is when they began to suspect that she had MS. When the conclusive diagnosis came in he following March we were devastated. All of the thoughts of might be were running through my head. You see Michelle as always been a critical part of my ministry. She has been a true help meet and now what if she could not help me anymore? Once again I felt that my life was about to take a turn and I did not know what to do.
In all of this, I began to believe that my ministry and my life could no longer ne effective for God. I believed that God could no longer use me in the ways that I thought he would use me. The bottom line for me is that I thought my story was over. I thought about going out and getting a regular job and giving up on the ministry. But, God was not through with me.
In our final moments here I want to share a few things that helped shape me and mold me in that moment of time:
What I realized was that our story is in reality God’s story. Too often the problem we have in life is that we attempt to write our own story. We in essence take the pen from God’s hands and write our own story line. But what I have found is that we are not very good authors. In Genesis the Bible says that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” David stated that we were formed or created in my mother’s womb.” The idea here that our life is not a mistake but it was purposed by God.
Secondly I realized that we must discern the difference between the end of a chapter and the end of a story. While God may finish a chapter in our life it does not mean that the story is over. You see I thought that the story of my life was over when in reality I was coming to the close of a chapter. Have you ever noticed on TV series that when they come to the end of a season that they leave you hanging so that you will tune in next season. I remember not too long ago the big question was “Who shot JR?” For those who watch NCIS the question is which stars will be back next year as Ducky was left on the beach dying of a heart attack and the rest of the team was caught up in an explosion at NCIS headquarters.
Fourth, no matter what circumstances of life may seem to be controlling you, God is and will continue to be in control of your life.
Fifth, rather than looking at the obstacles in life, we must look to the author and finisher of our faith. The past does not have to be a measure of the future for us. We look to the author and finisher of our story because He is the only one that knows how it will end. He knows the beginning from the end. Who is writing our story? Are you allowing God to write your story or have you submitted that to Him in order for Him to fulfill that in you?
And finally, while the past may shape us it does not have to define us. You see I came from an environment that was shaped by divorce and the abuse of a step-father that later committed suicide but I have not allowed that environment to dictate the kind of life of I am to live. In fact I am a better dad, husband and a man because of my past because I have refused to allow the past to dictate my future.
What about your story? Is your story a drama, a comedy, a thriller, or an action movie?