Monday, May 25, 2009

An Encouraging Word

I am sharing from my journal a couple examples of how the Lord encouraged me with a word in season when I needed it. The entries go back to the beginning of 2001.

January 29, 2001
I was sitting at my desk preparing to go to work one morning and struggling with frustration at where I was in my life. I had gone from being a successful pastor to facing the failure of a new church plant and trying to find a job that would provide for my family. Looking through a notebook I came upon a poem I had previously written to encourage myself to persevere and trust the Lord in the waiting process: “When it seems you are forgotten and your good days in the past, His grace brings forth a new song. He saves the best for last.”
The poem was based on the words spoken to Jesus when He turned the water into wine: “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine…and then the inferior. [But] you have kept the good wine until now” (John 2: 10). Laurel and I believed this was God's plan for our life and "ministry." The best is being saved for last.
In a flash I thought of all the good words the Lord had spoken into my heart over recent years. I realized I had to resist the temptation to be angry at my situation and to resist feelings of failure, and feelings of being forgotten and abandoned.
I closed my notebook and started to arise but decided to read a verse of scripture before going to work. I reached over and opened my bible. It fell open to Ecclesiastes 7: 8-10. It was like an audible voice from God. Each word applied to me:
“The end of a thing is better than the beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools. Do not say, ’Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” I knew the Lord was encouraging me to stand in faith and confidence, and to trust Him for what He will yet do.

February 14, 2001
I stopped by an auto shop a couple miles from my home. As I walked out of the office and across the parking lot to my van I was feeling the stress of financial pressure and a little despair and distress at my perplexity concerning direction for my life. I had cried out to the Lord in prayer the night before, and Laurel and I had prayed together before I left the house that morning.
As I walked across the parking lot, a black fellow in a bright red shirt who was at the other end of the building yelled to me across the parking lot, “God will make a way! No matter what the trouble, God will make a way! Just praise Him!” I did not know this man. I had never seen him before. But I received his word as from an angel of God, for he was truly sent to me by the Lord.
Then, like icing on the cake, the very next week, our grandson Christian, who was not more than 3 years old at the time, just out of the blue said to Laurel, “God will take care of you, gammy.”

I believe the Lord speaks to us on every side if we will only listen. He reveals Himself and strengthens us as we face the issues of life. That word does not remove us from the battle, but rather helps us to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18).
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, 'You are my God. My times are in Your hand.' "
Psalm 31: 14-15.


just joe said...

excellent and encouraging thoughts ! In some ways I find myself in a similar sitation ... you encouraged me. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for thinking of me. I really needed the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

About time. Please keep writing.

Laurel Long said...

Only you and I know how difficult those days were, but we also know how precious and faithful the Lord was to keep talking to us in ways that we could understand and embrace. He spoke and we heard-awesome, miraculous!!!!!!! He definitely speaks our language, doesn't He?
I want to remind you of a scripture that the Lord gave me for you during my devotions on 1/24/03:
Psalms 91:14-16
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.

Your life long partner in the kingdom enterprise. Laurel

steve H said...

It doesn't get any better than that, my friend!

Noel Cookman said...

Thoughtful folks living 200 years from now may look at our time as one of great distress and dryness. But, they will see your experiences as nearly heroic and your thoughts as "streams in a desert."

Simon R. Long said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Billy. Sometimes things have to sit with me for a few days before I realize what is really being said. Thanks for sharing your encouraging stories!

Billy Long said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

5-26-2009 8:47 pm
I had this great quote for you but cannot locate it. But think about this... the greatest "downtime" Jesus ever had on earth was in the desert and in that desert was his greatest temptation. He faced all of that and then look at the ministry he performed after! I think the "desert" is our preparation for the ministry time ahead of us. In the last days the Lord is going to need us fully prepared for the harvest! When you talked about the disciples in the boat "He Would Have Passed Them By?" one idea stands out. Quoting your words "They were not ignored by God. To the contrary, the whole experience had been designed especially for them." So the desert, although not pleasant, is a place of great preparation. Your words have given me hope in the midst of my own "desert" time! Thanks! Toni Sherrill

Anonymous said...

Billy, I agree that you should post your blogs more often. I enjoy reading them.

I am simply happy to awake each morning and enjoy whatever God sends for me to experience that day.