I thought that allowing a little lone dismay to cozy up with my heart for an afternoon might be harmless, but dismay rarely travels alone. Before I knew it, dismay had opened wide the door to fear and despair, who tramped all over my heart and mind with their muddy boots, gobbling up my soul in great slobbery bites and leaving me gasping at their insatiable appetites.
"But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped." (Ps. 73:2)
To focus on the wind and the waves of circumstances whistling about my head and blowing up a storm is sheer foolishness when the Lord of Creation has called me to travel in his lifeboat. He has saved me from an eternity of torment, invited me into His family and called me His own. How can I not gaze upon Him with the trusting eyes of a child when I know that He has come to my rescue time and again in the past, and will continue to be my refuge in the future?
What perfect timing to spend a weekend at a conference on Reformed Theology where my Savior is continually exalted and honored with the glory due only to Him. What a glorious blessing indeed to hear message after message preached on the supremacy of my Lord, who left His throne in Heaven in order that I might be rescued from not only an eternity apart from him, but a lifetime of selfish dependence on the idols of this world. Only in Christ can I find life, and that in abundance.
Not an abundance of worldly possessions and pleasures, but,
..."the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!" (Rom. 11:33)
The preaching this weekend by Philip Ryken and Steve Lawson focused on the excellencies of Christ and how belonging to Him should draw our hearts and minds upward out of the mire in which we live. Knowing that He died that we might live ought to inspire us to such gratitude that we in turn die to our own sinful desires that we may live wholly for Him as living sacrifices. One of the messages focused on Romans 12:1-2 in which we are exhorted not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, which is only possible as the Holy Spirit works in us through the Word of God.
In a breakout session led by Steve Lawson in which he taught on the life of Jonathan Edwards I was personally convicted of my own slothful wastefulness of the time and blessings which God has granted me. I focus overly much on my own selfish desires and comforts when I know that God's plans for me are superior to any that I have for myself. While His way to perfecting me may be painful at times, it is nevertheless for my good and more importantly, for His glory.
I have long been an enthusiastic fan of good preaching and excellent exposition of the Word, but walking away from a weekend of sermons such as these without an inner conviction of needed change would prove that a mere heart of stone resides within my chest. I have been cut to the quick and shown from God's Word that I am not as transformed as I thought. Yet, far from being discouraged by this vision of my plight, I am greatly encouraged in knowing that it is God who is at work in me, and what God begins, He finishes.
Soli Deo Gloria.