Sometimes, lay aside your duties and talk to God

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Rev. Wendell Ray

This is a real busy week for me. We have our second annual Sunday School training for our association. The conference is going to be great, but I stress… “Will people show up?” This morning I got to the office and decided to make a good decision – granted it was a hard decision.  I decided to spend time with God reading the book of Nehemiah. Why was this hard?  Because my nature is to rush into what needs to get done in order to pull of this meeting. I mean that is what I’m paid to do. That is my job isn’t it?

Nehemiah had a job, too. It was to be the cupbearer for the King of Babylon around 445-444 B.C.  But when he heard about the distress of his people, he was unable to do his “job” with joy.

The king even made a comment that he looked depressed and asked what was wrong. At this Nehemiah first prayed (I assume silently) and responded to the king with a request to go help his people who were hurting deeply. The king responded favorably and Nehemiah would go on to lead the people to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem.

Before Nehemiah had talked to the king and right after he heard of the plight of his people, he spent some time in prayer, and fasting, and confession. He not only confessed the sin of his people, but also included himself in the list of sinners. (Nehemiah 1:6-7) The Bible does say that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

The Bible emphasizes that we all need to repent. I sometimes think about the great need of others to repent more than myself, but that is not a spiritual (biblical) thought. That’s my need to feel good about who I am.

On a mission trip to Ecuador I was sharing the Gospel with a young man in a town called Guano. He was a nice guy who owned a store that sold leather goods. My son bought a leather jacket there later. I had him reading different scripture passages and then telling me what they meant. After reading Romans 3:23, he said that all are not sinners. Now since I have terrible Spanish I asked him to read it again and tell me what it said. Then he said it again, “no todos pecado.” He talked about how some people are really bad but others are pretty good. After a lot of discussion and looking at the scriptures he finally admitted that he was a sinner. I found out later that this was a big step for him because he believed that he had to do enough good things and be good enough to get to heaven.  Admitting that he was a sinner was a scary thing. Later he prayed and asked Jesus to forgive him and for Jesus to be Lord of His life (Romans 10:9-10).  He finally came to understand that on in a relationship with Jesus can a person be forgiven and receive eternal life.

I mean Jesus did say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) And Jesus doesn’t lie does he?

OK, back to my week, my day, this morning when I got to work.  I have a hard time balancing “doing my job” with “depending on God to do his job.”  Yes. I have responsibilities, but I am seeking to accomplish tasks that I can’t possibly do – change lives; save lives; move people away from self-centeredness; get churches to be Kingdom builders not religious organizations; move a comfortable Sunday School class outside the walls of the church and into the hearts of the people in their communities; convince followers of Jesus that we must go out into other countries with money from Covington County and love those people even when we have hug problems right here in Alabama that need addressing.

So, just as my new brother in Christ in Guano had to depend totally on God for his salvation, I have to depend totally on God for anything lasting to happen in people’s lives. That is why this morning I spent time with God when I need to be working.  My work is too impossible to do without being with and in the presence of My Father and totally depending on Him.