Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Answers are in Him

Below is a paraphrased excerpt from a letter wrote I about 6 years ago. I have edited out the "juicy" parts, but nevertheless it is a candid expression of what I was dealing with at that particular season. Many of you may identify with it to some degree. I would encourage you to follow it up with Psalm 73, which encourages God’s people to find their peace and solutions in the presence of God.

A personal letter, Summer of 2003:
“My life has come to a place of overwhelming shock to me. It is like waking up from a dream and finding I am in a nightmare. To start out with a vision for great things and to end up at the bottom has been a great and shameful disappointment to me. My life has been filled with wonderful signs of God’s presence and horrible pits of darkness at the same time. I have always tried to follow what I thought was the Lord’s way and direction, yet now I realize how I have been so influenced by my fears, anxieties, laziness, and lack of discipline. Over the years I have struggled with all sorts of mental weaknesses that have stunted and dwarfed my potential. The lines between these inherited mental infirmities and undisciplined self-centeredness have been blurry, and have made it hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins...

Yet I have learned to be content with the Lord Himself rather than needing ministry to make me happy. I have set my focus to facing my own inner monsters and destroying them. I have been making progress and am rejoicing in it…With the victory that I have moved into over this last month I have received tremendous hope for myself and the possibilities of further changes to come. I plan to climb a step daily and take advantage of whatever grace and plans the Lord still has available for me. When I say “hope for myself” I am referring to areas in me that need change, and changes in the areas that affect my family and the other important concerns of my life.

…I have faith for God to change me. I have faith for Him to continue the good work He has been doing in me in this season. And “ministry” does not matter. Changing, pleasing the Lord, and blessing my wife and family are what matters. [At this point in my letter I made reference to a specific area where I needed to see victory, and then said…] We just have to endure while the Lord defeats that enemy too."
-BL, summer, 2003.

Psalm 73
Whether a person is disillusioned because he has been genuinely disappointed by some hope, or simply going through a difficult and perplexing time, his answer and deliverance are in the presence of the Lord. David saw the wicked prosper while the people of God suffered. He saw the ungodly appear to sin with impunity while he himself was chastened every morning. His first reaction was to feel his efforts at righteousness had been in vain. What he saw troubled him, and his reaction to it grieved him deeply. "It was all too painful" he said— until he went into the presence of God. He would have given up had he not sought the Lord.
It is at Jesus' feet that we gain the right perspective. It is there that we get our bearings and reference points. We present our hearts for cleansing, open the Bible and see what God's word says, as we listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him minister to us. David's conclusion was, "I have put my trust in the Lord God."

Job 42: 5-6
Job was tested to the limit in his suffering and did not understand what was happening or why. I am sure that in his extreme pain he had many questions. But in the final chapter, God Himself showed up, and Job bowed before Him in humility, flooded with the knowledge of God's greatness, love, kindness, goodness, and wisdom. In that moment of revelation he did not question God. In God's presence we need no other answer, and yet in Him we have all the answers.
The Lord is pleased to give us understanding, but we must remember that He is our wisdom. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We should seek Him. It is in His presence that we find our answers, our peace, our strength, and our joy.

11 comments:

Ron Cox said...

Billy, the circumstances, the fears are meaningless in the “real” reality. You are a child of Promise not a child of Hagar (Gal. chp 4). This means only one thing, and one thing only - the ONLY thing that you have to do, the only thing you can do is reside in the strange world where God relates to us, communes with us and hears/ speaks to us and that is the world of FAITH (Abraham believed God…). There is nothing else. There is no other part of you involved. You cannot look at yourself because God doesn’t, you can’t judge yourself, because God doesn’t. There is only one character in this play of Faith that has had to work, and that is Christ and Him crucified. Nothing is left to you except to receive all that He has done. There is no personal failure, no personal success. Count it all dung…forget about yourself…otherwise you will get back under the law. For freedom Christ has set you free. God is requiring nothing from you except to abide as a Child of Promise. A child of the law has endless things to do and will be judged by them all. A child of Promise is the only child that receives the blessing, and that child is asked to do absolutely nothing except believe the Promise. You do not have to please the Lord. He is already as pleased with you as He will ever be. He can’t be pleased more because the work Christ did on your behalf is perfect - receive it. Receive Peace. Forget about pleasing the Lord, that is like the Jews missing it all because they would not submit to the righteousness of God and set about creating their own by attempting to fulfill the Law. You don’t have to “arrive”, you are already the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. There therefore now NO condemnation …please read Galatians Chapter 4 again, especially the last half (and the first part of Chapter 5)

Billy Long said...

Ron, thanks for your comments. It sounds like you have been going trhough your own seasons and also finding your place of peace in the Lord. I understand what you mean about resting rather than laboring. I also know that it was before Jesus had done any ministry or work at all that the Father's voice came from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." But I don't see myself contradicting that principle when I desire to please the Lord. I say it in the same context as Paul when he said, "Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well-pleasing to the Lord."
Also, keep in mind that the letter I quoted in my article was written 6 years ago. I am not in the "nightmare" now. I am at rest. I am very much at peace and at rest in my walk with the Lord. I enjoy his presence daily. I seek Him, and I do still desire to please Him, as opposed to doing those things that represent my self-will. I want to fulfill the purpose that He planned for me before I was born. Thanks again for your comments. The book of Galatians does have a great message.

Billy Long said...

With permission from Paul Petrie, I am posting some comments that he sent me in response to this blog.
Billy

Billy Long said...

Dear Billy,
You know you have my highest regard and respect! You have endured faithfully, though very dark times, and situations that were far from what you had expected. I appreciate your honesty about your personal limitations. But much more I respect your faith to stand firm and keep walking through challenges.

I wholly concur: Our highest goal and desire is to know Him. And our ability to please Him and bless others isn’t founded in our competence or capacity. It is in weakness that His strength is manifest. What a challenge it is to live in weakness – that that’s the route to revelation and dependence. You’re a remarkable man, my friend!

Have a blessed and Happy Christmas, and love to all,

Paul

Billy Long said...

Paul,
Thank you so much for your encouraging words. They encourage me because of my deep respect
for you and because I know your words represent the heart of God. Thank you so much for the
wise counsel and encouragement over the years and during those difficult times. Also, thanks also
for the words of correction that came in season and which also strengthened me in my walk.
May God’s grace be unto you in abundance,
Billy

Billy Long said...

Billy,

My words also come from one who has, with his beloved wife, suffered deeply, lost hugely, and
presently live with huge limitations. All of that sustained by grace. We can identify with one another!

Paul

Billy Long said...

Paul,
How true! That is also another reason why your words have such comfort in them. The joy and
strength of fraternity in the foxhole.
Billy

Billy Long said...

[I am posting here a comment from a dear friend, Ron Phillips].

Thank you dear Billy, our journeys have been almost identical.
When you look at Ben Moore, you and I, who have been faithful
to the Lord as much as we possibly could be, until He revealed
where we had not, you just know that we haven't come to the
Ultimate Fulfillment of our calling in Christ. I believe we have yet to fulfill our destines, but it doesn't have to be ministry unless the Lord wants that as an expression of His Loving purpose for and through us. As you have said so beautifully, In His Presense,it all melts away, and in His presense is Fullness of Joy.

Deedee and I love you and Laura so much, have a wonderful
Christmas and please when you are in Charlotte, please do us
the honor of your presense over a meal. We need the fellowship.
And who knows something of a life giving essense might be released
to the four of us.

Love you both,
Ron and Deedee

Billy Long said...

...which, by interpretation, means...?

Wendy Vaught Ross said...

Billy,
I have meant to respond to your blog dated 12-23-09 before now. When I first read it I could relate with it so much!!! It sounds a lot like my feelings about my own life! I have felt I have wasted a lot of time & made a lot of mistakes that have held me back from doing so many of the things that I have felt that God meant for me to accomplish. I am also learning to allow God to help me deal with a lot of things in my own life & I'm moving forward knowing that God loves me, He is in control & always faithful!!! I know there is still so much that I can do & have been called to do that will come out of all of the trials & tremendously difficult times in my life! God's gifts & callings are without repentance & His love, grace & mercy is so awesome it's hard to comprehend!!! Thank you for your honesty & encouragement!!! I know God has used you & will continue to use you for His glory!!! May God bless you abundantly!!! Wendy Vaught Ross

Billy Long said...

Thanks, Wendy. I appreciate your comments.