A couple of weeks ago I was beginning to get ready for Sunday services at our Church, and there were many things on my mind. A friend had called on my telephone and left a short message that really blessed me.
Trying to pastor people can be wonderful when everybody is happy and trying to live a good Christian life, but it is not always peaches and cream, if you know what I mean.
We had just passed through several weeks filled with great blessings in the services, and we found ourselves reaching out for souls in the community. It does not take a lot of effort to get people to come to Church when you have been blessed and filled with a desire to please God more. People are hungry for somebody to care about them,, and when a child of God will sincerely show kindness and make a little effort to help them to move forward toward hope, they will at least visit the Church when they are invited in most cases.
When new people start showing up, they bring many problems with them. Each new soul is a challenge, because they have a very small amount of understanding about what is going on in our services. These new people have not been present through the years to hear the good preaching and teaching coming across the pulpit resulting in our great victory for those that were here, nor have they experienced the joy of knowing Jesus, and they sometimes find themselves not being able to relate to the testimonies or the preaching. They do not know what we are talking about when we are shouting praises about the Holy Ghost and baptism in the name of Jesus. Most of them seem to think they are already saved, and they know more about how we should conduct our services than we do.
As the members of the Church gather their families up to head home after Church, the new sinners that just came to visit find themselves sometimes confused and needing to talk to the pastor. Sooner or later they make their way to the pastor’s office where they talk about how terrible life has been to them. They have many questions, and sometimes confusion is all they have as a result of visiting the Church. Many of them need money and they seem to think the Church is there to give them some of that money that was collected in the offering. Somehow it seems that most of these new souls have come to the conclusion that pastors have nothing to do between services, and they are free to give them undivided attention until the next service.
As I allow myself to become the city dump for the hurting people of the community, I try to give them the only answer that can fix it all for them, but they do not seem to understand that Jesus is real.
That phone call came at a time when I needed to hear the words that were spoken. A friend in Texas had called and left a message. Here are the words that were spoken several times. “Love and joy will conquer all.” Those words were repeated several times. When I listened to that message something happened to me. Just thinking about love and joy brought me back to the peace I had enjoyed before all the problems of the world had been poured into my life by people I do not know.
Every time i fall in love with Jesus, I experience joy all over again. All I needed was a reminder, and the peace that passes all understanding returned. No matter how many sad things I had listened to during the past few days, the answer for all of those troubled souls was the same answer I needed also.
Today I am feeling happy as I listen to my new friends talk about the problems of life. I am still being treated like a garbage bag that can hold all the years of junk that needs to be poured out, but somehow I am finding joy as I listen to every soul because the love of God that has blessed me is right here for each one of them also.
Thank you sister Cathy Shelton, for listening to the Lord and making that phone call. Your love and your joy helped me to once again find my peace that passes understanding, and your words helped me to renew patience and compassion as I love the souls that are trying to make their way to the kingdom of light and happiness. With joy I am once again drawing water from the wells of salvation. The older I get, the more I am learning about the love of our God coming into our hearts and flowing out to others from our hearts. Thank God for joy flowing like a river as deep as the sea.
In the wisdom and all knowing ability of our wonderful Lord, one child of God 1500 miles away listened to his tender voice and made a telephone call. She left a message from God, and those wonderful words changed my life again.
Today I am here in my office, and the garbage from last week is gone. I am waiting for that next phone call and looking forward to the next truck load of junk to come walking through my office door. This office is filled with living water today, and those thirsty souls are coming to get a drink. I love these people, and my heart is shouting “PRAISE THE LORD…” as I draw water from the wells of salvation. Something within me wants to shout today, “WHO’S NEXT…COME ON IN…” HALLELUJAH!!! Ren Rutledge