Although our life-paths have taken us in different directions in recent years, Rusty Smith is and always will be a dear friend. He was one of my spiritual shepherds during the last few years I lived in Kansas. I moved west; he moved east; then I moved further east. But, we do try to stay in touch with one another.
He sent me an email a while back in which he shared some observations about a book he is reading. Lately, I’ve been thinking about God’s promise to work in our lives to shape us in the image of Christ. This prompted me to reflect on Rusty’s observations. With his permission I want to share some of these thoughts with you. Rusty writes:
I just started reading The Shepherd’s Song by Lynn Anderson. In it he talks about the years David spent in solitude while tending sheep and before becoming King. This was a time of reflection for him—a time of learning of God through his creation and through meditation. Time spent in quiet. Dr. Anderson contrasted that with today. We are surrounded with noise both visual and auditory. He quotes Henri Nouwen who states: “Solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God’s even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry.” That is when it struck me! That is why we hear the boom boxes and the car stereos “cranked to the max.” That is why we spend hours and hours sitting in front of the TV. It is to drown out what we hear by being quiet. Solitude, meditation, reflection, just being quiet allows the Spirit of God to whisper “You are a sinner, but I will help.” I guess folks can’t get past the first part of that sentence to hear the “I will help.” WOW!!!
Oh how we need to learn the lesson here! I’m glad that Rusty shared these thoughts with me. While the Bible contains innumerable truths, it is pointing to this one grand truth! God’s gentle but clear message for every person is: I know you. I know your sin. Indeed, I know the sins you will commit, before evil desire stirs your heart to act. Moreover, I know your weaknesses, as I know your struggles. I know the scars you bear from the injustices perpetrated upon you in the past. Nothing has escaped my notice. Still, I want you to know that I will help you!
We are all sinners. But, thanks be to God who has openly triumphed over sin through Christ Jesus! Thanks be to God who is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble! (Psalm 46:1) To be sure, whenever we are operating within the will of God, the Lord will help us experience complete deliverance from sin, overcome any obstacle, and accomplish that which will bring honor and glory to His name!
The enemy wants us to place the emphasis on the first thought. He wants us to dwell on it—to stew in it. We must, however, be still and wait on the Lord! We can rest in the knowledge that He will lift us! He is strong and mighty to save! He will help us when we are tempted! He will supply mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Yes, it is true. You, me, we are sinners, but God will help us still! WOW!!!
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:6-8 NIV
© Bill Williams, September 26, 2006