There was a prophet who was required to spend his entire life preaching a message that was perpetually rejected. Because Jeremiah was faithful to God, he was physically beaten up by his peers and imprisoned; rejected by family; regarded as a traitor to his nation and his written prophecies were destroyed.
Only Covid could have made his suffering complete. How did he get up and face each grueling day? He had a secret. He wrote, “But this I call to mind; therefore, I have hope: the Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end.” – Lamentations 3:21-22 NETBible®
Jeremiah would brush away the bad, and each day think on the instances where God had been so good and faithful and present for him. That was his go-to place.
I am thinking we all need a go-to place. Here’s my favorite.
On July 6th, 1982 I had a wife and 2 children and an invitation to study at Dallas Theological Seminary but only $800 in our bank account – another frustrating factor in a string of hopeless situations.
It began with my graduation from Bible College in 1981. I had an impressive resume and recommendation letters from a couple of well-known Christian authors. I had planted a church, graduated with a 3.96 and had every expectation of landing a ministry position.
I was soon to discover, however that God was not interested in my accomplishments. He wanted my attention.
He seemed to stand in the way of my moving forward. I applied for teaching positions, missionary opportunities, para church work and many churches. Over a 9-month period I had collected 43 rejection letters. (still have them)
I remember making a lasting impression on one prospective church. I met with the Elder Board for breakfast. As they asked their questions, I tried to prepare my coffee. I tore the corner off the bag of cream and squeezed – no cream. I squeezed a little harder no cream, squeezed once again and the bottom of the creamer blew open and soaked the business suits of 3 Elders to my right.
As crazy as this event was, it was somewhat typical of my attempt to get a job. Sharie and I would report back to our home church after each vain attempt and they would both sympathize and laugh.
There was one option that I intended to postpone, which was to go to seminary. But maybe the Lord wanted me there sooner. I applied to an excellent school in Indiana. It was closer to home; less expensive and a year shorter than the school I would have ideally chosen.
But God stood in our way again. We had one day to visit the school. Both Sharie and I got the flu. They needed two toilets in that hotel bathroom that night. We were not able to line up housing or get a job so we limped back home in defeat once again. By Nov. of 1981 my possibilities were exhausted. I could identify with Jeremiah – hopelessly trapped by my circumstances, and quite frustrated with God who controlled them, but He was at work reeducating me about my faith in Him.
At Sharie’s suggestion, I sent an application to Dallas Seminary. It was so far away, a year longer, and cost so much more money, but I reasoned I had nothing to lose at that point.
I was force feeding my faith from the Word in those days. Colossians 2:6 taught me that I was to walk in the same way that I came to Christ, which was by faith. Hebrews 11 was a reminder that faith is the substance or reality of things I hope for and evidence or proof of things I can’t yet see.
I lived and cried my way through Exodus 14 every night where I found Israel blocked by the Red Sea and I learned that God sometimes steers us right into obstacles to build our faith. From Hebrews 11:6 I learned that God expects me to live my life by my faith. So by faith, I applied to DTS.
OK, not so encouraging thus far. But even in the pain of this journey, the nearness of God was palpable and precious. Look for part 2, for the rest of the story in my next blog.
A PRAYER: Lord if I never had a problem, I would never know that God could solve them. Thank You
This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.