What do God and Almond Joy have to do with one another?
Well, yesterday, was my monthly retreat day. Yes, for the majority of the past year, every 1st Friday I take time to get away with my Bible, a notepad, and simply seek God’s voice. Some of these days have been particular fruitful, others have left me with more questions than answers. However, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything and highly recommend it to others.
So, this month was a bit of a challenge. You see, after seeing our Truth@Work ministry grow to nearly 30 members in it’s first 6-8 months, the past 6-8 months we’ve hit a plateau. I have tried multiple approaches throughout the months, however, the ministry isn’t growing. This has led to many heart felt conversations between God and myself in search of “why”? While I don’t believe in prosperity theology, I do anticipate that if Jesus is at work in a ministry, it will be growing. Thus, at times, I’ve felt that there is a spiritual hindrance that needs to be addressed.
So, that was Chris’ agenda for yesterday. As I arrived at my favor spot, got settled in, and began to open my Bible, I was there with great anticipation that God was going to reveal something new to me. After what seemed to be a couple of hours, nothing was coming and I must admit I was becoming a bit anxious. Then, in a matter of only a couple minutes, the sky transitioned from bright sun to a downpour. Yes, my Bible, notepad, and myself were completely drenched. As I’m going back to the car, I’m having a conversation with God saying, “Really, God, really…I’m having a spiritual retreat day with forecasted sun and you bring rain seemingly out of nowhere.” While I know there is a lesson to be learned in every situation, I would tell you that Chris wasn’t really happy at this point.
As I got in the car, drove around a bit, the sky began to clear. I found myself standing out in front of the car with my Bible and notepad on the hood of the car attempting to dry out. Then, I turned to Jeremiah 12 where Jeremiah’s complaining to God. In Jeremiah 12:5-6 God responds pretty much with something that sounds like, “If you think this is bad, how are you going to cope when it gets really tough?” Ok, yep, I guess that ones for me God. Thanks for that loving rebuke.
Then, my pages violently turned to John 2 where Jesus clears the Temple. The words were seemingly flying off the page as Jesus says, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” – John 2:16b (NIV). Wow, what to make of this Lord? By the way the pages turned and words jumped off the page, I knew it was something he wanted me to hear, but, what? Was he saying that Truth@Work was turning His house into a market? While I could possibly make a bit of a correlation, I didn’t think this was the case. Then, it came to me, that maybe He is referring to me. Am I turning my Father’s house into a market? Or, maybe looking at it a different way in correlation to our last blog post on Transformation vs. Information, have I lost focus on my ministry’s core focus of “transformation”? Tough stuff, wouldn’t you say!!!!
Throughout the balance of the day, I continued to see familiar versus tied to trusting in The Lord and patience. As I sensed our time was winding down, I found myself in a very familiar passage Phillipians 4. Allow me to capture it for your review:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. … I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:4-13 NIV with omissions)
As I prayed these words back to our Lord I focused on rejoicing, patience, thanksgiving, peace, and contentment; all are a familiar theme. Then, the wind blew the pages to Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be on your guard, stand firm in faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love”. Interestingly, this verse is the cornerstone verse for the Act Like Men conference which is coming to Indianapolis November 8th and 9th which we’re encouraging men to attend. Again, another reminder to toughen up and, “If you think this is bad, how are you going to cope when it gets really tough?”
So, the title of the blog is about “God and Almond Joy”; so, where does this come into play? Well, as I finished our time together with another prayer, I prayed that God would bring me “joy”. I truly want to experience the “joy” Paul speaks about in all circumstances. Then, as I was packing my stuff up, I looked beside me and found a candy wrapper that had been there all day. As I picked it up, it was an Almond Joy wrapper to which I responded with “joy” toward The Lord. Doesn’t He have the greatest sense of humor sometimes!!!!