No, Glenn. It Was You.

Psalm 46:7, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.”

Selah. In Hebrew it served as a musical notation. The singer was to be silent while the music continued playing. It was an interruption, a pause. It was a time of reflection, a time to think deeply about the preceding words. It’s really not a bad idea. Silence is a good thing, especially when we use those quiet times to meditate and reflect. In that light the word “selah” takes on a real significance with regard to Psalm 46. In the space of 11 verses the word appears 3 times.

Accordingly, that was what I did this morning. I meditated. I reflected. I prayerfully thought about my wife’s recent cancer diagnosis in light of the past 3 years. And in the quietness of my heart God spoke to me. He reminded me of a movie from 1989 entitled “Fields Of Dreams.” (If God can speak through dreams and a donkey, why not a movie?) In that movie an Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella, hears a voice tell him, “If you build it, he will come.” In time the voice adds a further instruction, “Ease his pain.” Ray proceeds to plow under his corn fields and builds a baseball field in the hopes that Shoeless Joe Jackson will once again be afforded the opportunity to play baseball. To Ray’s utter amazement Joe Jackson and a whole host of legendary players appear and begin holding exhibition games there in his Iowa cornfield. As the movie comes to a conclusion one last player appears, Ray’s estranged father, John Kinsella. Ray reaches a seemingly obvious conclusion in his mind. The building of the field and all of the subsequent events that transpired were to ease his father’s pain. At that point Shoeless Joe turns to Ray and corrects his mistaken assumption. “No, Ray. It was you.” The issue had always been Ray’s pain and healing. Ray had thought that his effort had been for someone else. But in the end it had been for him.

This morning God used that scene as a context to speak to me. He allowed me some perspective into 3 major events that had left me confused  during the past few years.

  • The move. After 10 years of service God told us to leave Miami and return home to Georgia. To me it made no sense. Things were going great. We were pastoring a wonderful church. The ministry was doing well. After a decade of very difficult service we had entered a time of real fruitfulness. And then, seemingly for no reason, when everything was at it’s best, God told us to move.
  • The job. Just a little over 2 years ago God directed me to resign from my church position and enter the secular work force. Again, it made no sense to me. I was happy at the church. I was excited about the future of the ministry. But then God told me to quit and get a job. Within a week He opened the doors for me at a nearby paper plant. The transition has been difficult for me. It is a good job and I am surrounded by wonderful people. But it has been a struggle, wondering why God brought me to this place when my heart is elsewhere.
  • The blog. About the same time I also felt led to start blogging. I love writing. But it’s like anything else. After a while it becomes a chore. The thrill gets lost in the sense of obligation. Many have been the times that I just wanted to quit and walk away. But God would never give me a release. Every time I wanted to stop He told me to keep writing.

For the past 3 years I have been convinced that the common element in all these situations was the needs of other people. Returning to Georgia? Seeking secular employment? The blog? In each instance I saw myself laboring to ease someone else’s pain. Someone else was always the focus and eventual beneficiary. I could not have been more wrong.

This morning as I mulled these things over God reminded me of that closing scene from “Field Of Dreams.” But this time instead of Shoeless Joe Jackson it was the Holy Spirit doing the talking. I thought the past 3 years had been all about others. With 5 simple words God corrected my mistake, “No, Glenn. It was you.” God opened my eyes and for the first time in 3 years I saw my frustrations in a different light. Because of the move my wife is only 5 minutes away from her family and closest friends (support is not a concern). Because of the job we have an unbelievable insurance provider (expenses are not a concern). And the blog? For me personally that’s the best part. For 2 years I found myself writing words of hope and encouragement for others. God consistently led me to write for a target audience that was wrestling with difficulty, disappointment and despair. And during those past 2 years a remarkable thing happened. The words that I was writing on a daily basis were becoming a part of me. What was meant to provide hope for others was now providing life to me. During a time when my world should be falling apart I have experienced a peace that does indeed pass all understanding. I have been able to keep moving forward. All because God prepared me in advance for a time that He knew was coming. God used the discipline of writing to develop within me a faith that would weather the storm that I could not foresee.

Given the choice, I certainly would not have chosen cancer. But God has allowed it. And I am going to continue to trust Him. I trust that He knows what He is doing. I trust that He will cause all things in my life to work together for the good. I trust that He will be exalted through this situation.  Three years ago when I had no clue what was coming God already had His plan in motion. And now, at the time of our greatest need, we are standing in the light of His faithful provision. Our family is only 5 minutes away. Our financial needs are secured. And our faith has been prepared for this time of need. God had a plan for this season. He was already at work “easing our pain” before the need ever arose. What I had thought was meant for others was really for us. What love!!! What grace!!! What an amazing and merciful God!!! I don’t know what tomorrow holds for us but I am at peace because I know that He holds all of our tomorrows. Three years ago He had a plan for today. I am confident that whatever comes next He is also prepared. Yes, it’s tough right now. But our God remains faithful. He will not fail us.