The Shadow-lands

Wandering alone in the shadow-lands. That’s how I described life and ministry to a friend almost two years ago. Darkness seemed endless and (to be honest) my faith felt unstable. I was afraid of my weakness and overconfident in my abilities. (I had no idea what lay ahead. It was far worse than I could have anticipated.)

My friend did not respond to the plea of my aching soul as I hoped. In fact I initially despised his words. He said, “My first matter of prayer for you is that you will see God in the shadow-lands; that even without the good times, good feeling, and showers of blessings you will be satisfied with just Him, Himself … for however long God purposes to be the sole encouragement you have.”

I like chocolate. I like coffee. I like rich worship, family fun, and walking with my wife. I do not like pain…hurt…loneliness or suffering, at all! The words of my “friend” stung with the reality of my having to walk through the valley of the shadow.

My perspective for months was suffocating in grief and uncertainty. My friends perspective was that we, “would never choose to go (to the shadow-lands). But that is precisely why God wisely and lovingly superintends our paths to bring us there.”

The exhortation of my friend, was to seek and to see God in the darkness. His prayer was for my success, not my relief. Life during that entire season was extremely unsettling; which I discovered, was the point.

God does not need me, I need Him.

Are you currently in the shadow-lands? I urge you to spend some time with God here: Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Nahum 1:7; Exodus 14:13; Psalm 46:1-3; 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”

2 Corinthians 3:4-5

I am weak, but He is strong.

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Overwhelmed is a good word.

6675771445_c81ce29198_zOverwhelmed is a good word.

A little over a year ago my sweet wife and I had no idea what was coming.  In many ways I am glad that we did not know.  To this day there are things that I am quite certain we will not understand any time soon.  And that’s ok.

Today we find ourselves in awe of the ways in which God works in our lives.

Overwhelmed is a good word.

We have been overwhelmed by things outside of our “control.” Our recent memories are actually filled with words like concern, confusion, and at times… crushed.  I’m not sure that he realizes it, but our oldest son Nathan was great encouragement to our family when he said, “Even hard things are a matter of perspective… Where do we keep our focus?  On the difficulty or on the Lord?”

Overwhelmed is a good word.

Those overwhelming things have actually been the way God has been preparing us for major unexpected change.  When you finally recognize that God is in control (and not you) it is overwhelming to see His hand of providence, His unfolding purpose, and His plan for your life.

Did I mention that we are in awe of the ways in which God works in our lives?

We were not looking, we were not asking, and indeed we did not even realize that God was preparing us for a whole new chapter in our life.  Until now.  I have been asked and I have accepted the call to come and serve as the senior pastor of the South County Bible Church in south St. Louis County Missouri.

Overwhelmed is a good word.

We (our whole family) are excited about this new adventure.  We are thankful for the rich history and godly men who have served at SCBC.  We are eager to work with the team that God has in place and continues to build there.  We are overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord, the grandeur of God, and the opportunity to serve Him.

 

“Overwhelmed” By Big Daddy Weave

I see the work of Your Hands

Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice

All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross

Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

And all that You’ve done is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

In the Glory of Your Presence

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

And God I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful

Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful

You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful

You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful

Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful

You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful

You are Glorious, You are Glorious

Oh God, there is no one more Glorious

You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious

I delight myself in You

In the Glory of Your Presence

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

And God I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

There is no one more Beautiful

You are the most Beautiful

Songwriters: YOLANDA YVETTE ADAMS, RYAN KENT BELCHER, RODNEY L. EAST, ERROL W. JR. MCCALLA, MARCUS ECBY