Oftentimes we want to blame our unlovely behavior on outward circumstances — someone does us wrong, we run out of money, our best-laid plan is ruined, or we just have a really bad day. When things are sailing along smoothly, and all seems to be going our way, the hidden “issues” in our soul may remain under cover. But if anger, lust, envy, hatred, and selfish ambition are alive in our inward man, when we are squeezed, they will come spilling out. Unfavorable circumstances do not CAUSE unrighteousness, they just UNCOVER it. In the course of a lifetime, we may also face serious injury or illness, family difficulties, or the loss of a loved one. During these times, we may discover that our faith is not as strong as we thought, and we battle fear, anxiety, and unrest. But God…..so loved us that He has provided for our soul to not only be thoroughly cleansed of all unrighteousness so that when we are squeezed only His nature comes spilling out, but for our soul to also abide in contentment and rest — the peace that passes understanding. The Lord’s provision is steadfast and sure, but to experience it in our lives, we must wholly give ourselves up to His cleansing power and be willing to be emptied of self to be full of His Spirit.
The 4th chapter of James exhorts us to draw near to God, purify our hearts, and humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. It then goes on to say that though we may make big plans, we do not know what will happen tomorrow. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (vs. 14). As easy as it is to get caught up and focused upon our time here on earth, we must always be mindful that this lifetime is our opportunity to be reconciled to our Creator and be His ambassadors to those around us. Life can drastically change or even end in less than a second, so keep a view of the “big picture” and count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the trying and proving of your faith produces endurance and steadfastness, and let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, LACKING NOTHING! (James 1)
During the past 8 months since my hand was injured, we’ve had ample opportunity to “count it all joy”. The peace of God continues to bless and keep us as He faithfully works all things together for good. The 5th (and prayerfully, LAST) surgery is scheduled in December when they will take spare tendons from my arms and graft them into my hand. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.
One challenge of this injury has been a drastic lack of time to get stuff done. Running back and forth to therapy 3 times a week, and then being on the road every weekend, leaves little time to sit down and do things like write newsletters, so we are combining a few issues to get caught up.
In August, we were back at the Silver Hill rodeo near Rome, GA. The Saturday night meeting will forever stand out in my mind as one of the best church services I have ever experienced. God’s presence graciously enveloped us and there is no way to describe in it in words and there is nothing more valuable than such a Divine encounter — “Lord you are more precious than silver, Lord you are more costly than gold, Lord you are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares with you”. After a little break for surgery #4, we traveled to Villa Rica, Dalton, Hamilton, and Loganville, GA to encourage those who gathered to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In October, we returned to the 3-day rodeo in Bonifay, FL where we had not been in 20 years. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with some folks and share the love of God. Our next stop was the Bulls and Broncs in Jasper, GA before heading to south Florida for the PRCA Rodeo in Indiantown. On our way back north we ministered at Circle Cross Cowboy Church which is always a fruitful time in the Lord. In November, we were at the IPRA Regional Finals in Gay, GA and the Southern Finals Rodeo in Asheville, NC where a huge crowd gathered Sunday morning to hear words of Spirit and life about how to dwell in the peace of God — it was a Divine appointment for sure!
The holidays will be spent with family before our busy schedule resumes in January. May the love and peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.