I'm now in Week 10 of my health plan, and down 58 pounds overall! In fact, I was recently looking at a picture my health coach posted of my wife and me from a year ago side by side with one from a week ago. The results speak for themselves. I have so much to be excited about, and don't misunderstand as you continue reading--I am very excited by the transformation I am experiencing.
But in Week 10 I'm not quite half way to my overall goal. And while I am not really facing discouragement in the program, I did catch myself thinking about other things this week. Part of my health plan includes being in a closed Facebook group with many others who are on similar journeys as mine. Once in a while I will see someone post about how they had a slice of birthday cake or they allowed themselves to eat this meal or that item that isn't in the plan. This week, I saw half a dozen or so such posts, and I realized, I wanted to eat something else as well. I love vegetarian sushi--with avocado, asparagus, and cucumber. And I love cheese enchiladas with refried beans and rice. And for just a moment I found myself reconciling how I could do have it. It's been 10 weeks, I could just...
Last year on this day, I was struggling. I was a pastor in between churches. It was a dark and uncertain time for not just me, but my wife and kids. We all felt alone and alienated. I started claiming these two promises that I posted today, one year ago on my Facebook page--and I am still, claiming them--every day.
Reflecting back I realize just how much support there really was. My conference admin was excellent to me with regular calls from my president, VP, and ministerial director to visit, always praying with/for me/us. How many friends called or stopped by. And how many of my pastor friends were praying for us, calling us, or texting us. Looking back at a dark time in life, I realize just how close God was through such friends and colleagues.
Today, one year later, I'm pastoring in a church that is excited about what the future holds. They are excited to work for Jesus. They love my family. And my family feels accepted. We can see how God has led. It so miraculous--it's exciting to think that God cared THAT much.
I totally resonate with this statement: "Satan's efforts to hinder the work and to destroy the workmen have not ceased; but God has had a care for His servants and for His work. In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Life Sketches, 196)
I write this Sabbath morning as an encouragement for any of my friends or colleagues who are struggling. Jesus is there. It may not feel like it. And the feelings you may have may not be pleasant, leaving you feeling deserted and distant. But keep praying. Keep holding on. You're not alone.
If you'd like, I'll pray with you too.
It became an international story last month. "Former Adventist Pastor Embarks on Year Without God." Perhaps you heard or read the story of how Ryan Bell, former pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church, left the ministry and is now considering life without God.
In his article published by the Huffington Post, Bell briefly outlines his spiritual journey, struggles, and ultimate falling out with the church. Then, the paragraph that has garnered the most attention he states: