Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
God does strange things, and at the least expected time. Our office is closed today. No, we aren’t taking the day off as such, but rather we are here as a group having a day just to relax, pray and have some fun events. So, we met this morning at 8:30 and had a time of worship, a break for coffee and fellowship and had the first of our two scheduled meetings.
Before I go into what happened at the first meeting, allow me to give you a little insight into my mind of late. I have been truly trying and asking God to “break me.” I’m sure that means different things to different people, but to me it mostly means seeking to be a nobody for God. I quoted Pastor Brandon on this a blog post recently. While I have been serious in this, I have found that my mind is in a dark place. While I truly seek to just be humble before God and people, I find that total surrender to God, to be totally difficult. The other thing I have struggled with in all of this is fear and insecurity about my future. I guess that’s a normal thing for someone at my age, but I find it to be a major stumbling block in my life. I really haven’t planned for my retirement or anything like that. I kind of gave up things 21 years ago to serve God full time. But now because of natural aging, I find things get harder and my mind goes toward thinking about these things.
So, that brings us to our first meeting this morning. I honestly felt like blowing it off. My heart just wasn’t up to have this day of rest, fun and relaxing, and I was a bit depressed. But I walked over to our chapel and decided I would at least give it a try, not even thinking that God’s hand was in that decision. Our speaker was one of our brothers from the field and we did the meeting through Facetime. As he spoke, I felt myself being drawn in more and more to what he was saying. He spoke from Matthew 16:22-23, a very familiar passage to us. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
Peter had given up a lot of things to follow Christ. He left his family and familiar surrounds without hesitation, at the command of Jesus. He gave up his fishing career, made lots of blunders over time with Jesus and generally was out of his element. Now, here was Jesus telling the disciples that He was going to die. I don’t know if Peter was really trying to be a stumbling block to Jesus, but that is exactly what Jesus said. Peter was thinking of himself and not the things of Christ. Jesus could have taken a softer approach to his response to Peter, but as we know, Jesus said things like they were and did not mince words. Jesus told Peter that he was actually making Him miss His mark, or sin! Basically, Jesus was saying that Peter was trying to convince Him that it was not God’s plan for Jesus to die like he was describing. Question, do our minds cause other people to stumble?
Our speaker then started talking about calendars. I’m thinking, “what!! Where is this going?” Did you know there are different calendars in the world and not all people use the same one? I have heard of the Gregorian calendar which I think is the one we generally use. But there are, and have been other calendars that revolve around the sun, moon, stars or harvest time. But there was one calendar that was totally different. That was the Jewish calendar that revolved around God. “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” (Exodus 12:2) The month that God is referring to is the month that the Jews received their deliverance from Egypt. Their calendar revolved around God. Let me ask you, in our own minds, what does the calendar of our personal lives revolve around? All this begs another question: How can we make our minds to not be a stumbling block to others? Are we making others miss their mark (sin)?
Our guest speaker then told a story. It was a true story about a man who had recently retired from a high government position in the United States. He was at a venue and was in the middle of giving speech when he looked down at a Styrofoam coffee cup that he was given. He stopped his speech and started over at that point. The speaker said that last year he spoke at this same venue. He was flown into the city with a first class ticket, he was met at the airport and escorted to a limousine to take him to the best hotel. He skipped checking in, that was already taken care of. His luggage mysteriously showed up in his comfortable room. He then asked for a cup of coffee and it was brought to him in a nice porcelain cup.
The man continued speaking and told them that this year, now that he was retired, he flew in by himself in a second-class seat. He picked luggage and made took a taxi to his hotel. He checked in and carried his luggage up to his room. He caught another taxi and made his way to the event venue. He made his way in the front door and found his way to the back of the venue. He then asked an employee if he could have a cup of coffee and the employee pointed to a table down the hall. The man walked over, took a Styrofoam cup and poured himself a cup of coffee. This was the cup of coffee that made him change his speech. Here is the first point. Don’t hold on to your identity too tightly. It’s OK to get coffee in a porcelain cup if that is what God wants for you. But it is just as OK if it comes in a Styrofoam cup. It’s OK to live well and have nice things. But it’s also OK to have nothing if that is what God wants for us. Our identity is in Christ and does not depend on how powerful we are or what man thinks of us.
The second point of our speaker’s talk was this. Don’t hold on to your security too tightly. This point really hit home with me today. You see, I have been struggling with some fear about my future. Things like, how long should or could I go on serving here? If I must leave the ministry for some reason, I have no place to go Also, what would I do? I really haven’t done much to plan for retirement, (actually I have never really planned to retire) how could I even live? As much as I would try not to let my mind wrap around this, I keep thinking about it.
I guess what I am saying is that we need to stop thinking so much about ourselves (I read that in a book by Francis Chan). We also need to ask and remind ourselves about what our mind is revolving around. We need to hold on to our lives and our future security very loosely. We are in God’s hands! I have told several people over the past year that the most important thing I learned in my year in Re:Generation was that we need to learn to trust God. I seemed to have let that slip a bit. Here is my last bit of advice for today. DON’T DO THAT!!
So, the meeting this morning was yet another one of those small miracles from God that I have occasionally experienced in my dark hours. Sadly, we often miss them. I’m not saying that because I attended this meeting that all my problems are all now fixed. But, God was so gracious to me by pushing me to go to the meeting. My desire is still the same, but maybe a little stronger. I want to be God’s nobody and to hang on to my life as loosely as possible. God bless you all!