Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thriving in the Seismic Zone

I credit one of my pastors, Justin McCarty, for the idea for this blog entry.

Ever find yourself in the midst of an earthquake?

I'm not talking about actual earthquakes that shake the world's surface ... no ... actually, these earthquakes can be more terrifying than those.

I'm talking about a vicious assault on your entire spiritual well-being.

I'm in the middle of an earthquake right now.

I am writing this from my recliner, my laptop perched on my tummy.

I'm so weak that I can't stand. The only thing I've eaten in the past 36 hours is a small bowl of oyster crackers. I've been sipping Gatorade, but it hasn't stayed in my system long enough to make much of a difference. I caught the stomach flu from my 5-year-old Neil. You wouldn't think this would really affect my mental well-being -- afterall, everyone catches a bug now and then, right?

Well, I would agree, except I have been ill like this since the end of January -- first it was a bout with bronchitis for 2 weeks ... then a round with chicken pox for 4 weeks (chicken pox at age 43 is a real riot, let me tell you) ... and I was just getting back to myself again when I was again laid up in bed for a week for inordinante blood loss (we don't need to go into that, but you get the idea). Then Neil caught this stomach thing that laid him up for a week in bed.

And 36 hours ago, I caught it, too.

But I will tell you truthfully -- the illnesses really are not the primary focus of my discouragement. I am actually very discouraged because they prevent me from doing more for others.

See, I really want to help out at my church. I've had various opportunities to get involved. Every time I try, something like this comes up to prevent it. As an extrovert who thrives on people contact, it is equally discouraging to be stuck in a house in the woods, about a 45-minute drive away.

Some people think that when they volunteer, they're giving of themselves to others. I see it through the opposite lens. When I volunteer, I get so much more in return. Being able to encourage and teach and lead and guide ... it's what makes me feel integral to advancing the good news about Jesus. My spirit becomes so energized with this. If you're an extrovert like me, you probably understand exactly what I mean.

So when my body gets pummeled, and pummeled, and pummeled -- and I'm taken out of the action of where I want to be -- I am overwhelmed with discouragement. How, I ask, can God use someone who is sick all the time?

But this morning, God brought to mind last week's sermon by Justin McCarty, the assistant pastor at Quest Community Church in Lexington.

Someone else had a similar experience -- Paul.

Paul and Silas were trying to hit a bunch of places to share the gospel. But every time they tried going somewhere, they were prevented by the Spirit. Finally, they found themselves in northern Macedonia (northern Greece), after Paul had a vision to go there.

You really have to read this story in Acts 16. It's boggling! Paul casts a demon out of this slave girl. Her master had been making a lot of money from her, because he used her to tell fortunes. He incited a mob to attack Paul and Silas. They found themselves in a dungeon.

So how would you feel? Here is Paul, trying to get to places to tell people about Jesus, and he finds himself tossed out of commission, stuck in a dungeon.

(Well, a house in the woods isn't exactly a dungeon, but sometimes I feel like that!)

Surprise, surprise ... Paul and Silas start singing and praising God.

And an earthquake comes along. It shakes the walls and frees all of the prisoners from their chains.

The jailer draws his sword to kill himself. Paul says, "Stop! We're all here! None of us are gone!"

So this jailer -- the same dude who had ordered Paul and Silas to be beaten and thrown into the dungeon -- takes them to his house, washes their stripes and asks for he and his entire family to be baptised.

Then they all sit down to breakfast together!

Now can you make this stuff up???

Here's what I take from this story ... We can thrive in the seismic zone, just like Paul.

I am beaten down physically, but does that mean I can't share with others?

No! I have this cool little gadget here called a laptop, which is connected to a worldwide web of people, all dying to hear about my faith.

And I will share it.

Until I am put in the hospital on life support, I will share it.

Until God decides it's time for me to come home, I will share it.

I may be in circumstances that I wish were different ... but I will share it.

Who knows?

Maybe this seismic zone's purpose is to help me shake the world -- all from a cabin in the woods of Kentucky.

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