“Do It Again, Lord!”

What is something that God has done for you, for a loved one, or for your church that makes you want to shout, “Do it again, Lord!”?

 

Scene 1

Just as the blistering sun’s rays and stale air sucks the moisture out of the desert floor, leaving it parched and cracked, depression had drained me of vitality that week.  Demotivated.  Lethargic. Void of emotion.  Except for classroom teaching, every task that week took a herculean effort.  Grading papers, for example.

Yet I had promised students they’d receive their graded Bible study plans the next morning.  Typically, I give extensive written feedback on lesson plans.  The dozen papers would require about ninety minutes to grade.

As the sun set, I walked to the front porch and prayed:  “Lord, you say in Psalm 50:15, ‘Call on Me in the day of trouble.  I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.’  I’m in trouble right now. There’s no desire or fortitude within me to grade these lesson plans. Nothing matters to me right now–not even whether I live.  Even if You don’t remove my despondency, I ask You for the discipline to grade those papers thoroughly. Do it for the students’ sake, Lord.  And for Your sake, so You’ll look strong in the context of my weakness, so I’ll give You praise when I return those lesson plans.”

I reentered the house.  I wish I could say my spirit soared and I graded those papers with joy. But I can’t.  Going over every single one of them was a chore, and I kept muttering for grace to finish.  And He gave it.  Before the prayer, I didn’t have the resolve to start the grading.  After the prayer, I didn’t work passionately, but I did so qualitatively.

“Do it again, Lord!”

Life is full of things that I don’t feel like doing, but which still need to be accomplished. May the Lord keep giving me grace to serve and to act when feelings aren’t pushing me.

 

Scene 2

As I tried to sleep, impure thoughts lurked near the entrance to my mind. I could hear their whispers, promising fun if I’d just indulge my imagination for a few minutes.  But instead of swinging the door open to them, I remembered 2 Thessalonians 3:3:  “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

I pleaded with God:  “Lord, let me experience the truth of that verse–right now!  The verse is either a lie or the truth.  I choose to believe it is true.  I trust You to shoo away those intruders, to eradicate every false desire, and to allow me to go to sleep in peace.  In the name of the One who not only saved us from the penalty of sin, but also from its power to control us, amen.”

Immediately, the tempting voices fled and pleasant thoughts wafted through my mind before I fell asleep.

“Do it again, Lord!”

Satan is persistent (1 Peter 5:8), and though blessed by the Spirit’s enabling presence, I’ll always be vulnerable due to the indwelling sin that marks every believer.  I can never take victory for granted in a war that will last for as long as this earthly body lives. I’ll need grace to keep resisting, to keep believing that God satisfies a whole lot more than sin.

 

Scene 3

As part of my preparation for an evening Bible study group, I read a chapter from a book that I had edited extensively years before. A friend wrote the first draft, but I could see the crisp writing style, the anecdotes, the fresh verbs and smooth transitions I had added to make the Bible study material more readable.

Yet despite my painstaking work on the copy, when the book was published, I received no credit for the editing, nor for the one chapter I wrote from scratch. (This was not an intentional slight by my friend.  The omission just happened in the process of going to press.) For a moment I felt hurt and frustrated.  “This is good writing on my part,” I thought. “I made the excellent content from my friend a lot more engaging, yet no one else will realize my contribution.”

In such a moment, in view of throwing a colossal pity party, I’d normally receive a gentle but strong conviction from God’s Spirit.  Instead, I experienced a rare “inside whisper” of the Spirit.  It came out of the blue, and though not audible, I heard these precise words:  “I am happy with what you wrote here, Terry! Your work on this book pleases Me.”

I no longer felt the least bit sorry for myself.  I smiled and thanked the Lord for the grace gift that made this Bible study workbook more useful for thousands of people.

“Do it again, Lord!”

I often forget that all ministry is done “in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17; 12:19).  I want to teach and to write for the Lord’s pleasure, and be content when my work makes Him happy, even when others don’t acknowledge it or even when they’re unaware of it.  May He give me purity of motives so the recognition of others is less important to me.  “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives” (Prov. 16:2).

It’s high time I apply to myself what I’ve always taught others:  There’s no telling how much you can accomplish for God if you don’t mind who gets the credit.

 

Scene 4

He had served as our pastor for over seventeen years.  For seven of those years,  covering two different stints, I served alongside him on staff (while still full-time at Columbia International University).

In his early 60’s, he took another pastorate in New Jersey.  After five years, poor health forced him to retire earlier than expected.  Within months, his health had deteriorated more and I heard he had only a few months to live.

God’s Spirit nudged me to write him a handwritten letter.  I expressed regret over his declining health, assured him of my prayers, then spent the bulk of the letter telling him what I respected and appreciated about him.

His steady leadership that took over a church hurting over a split, which was less than half the size it had been. How God used his preaching, positive spirit, and program initiatives to swell attendance beyond the previous high that had occurred before he came. I cited specific traits I admired, and shared anecdotes of things he said and did that left positive impressions on my memory.  Then I assured him of my love.

He died within a month of receiving the letter.

“Do it again, Lord!”

I want Him to make me increasingly sensitive to hurting or needy people.  I’m often too self-absorbed due to my melancholy temperament. I don’t want to get by with just thinking something positive about another person, or thanking God for their effect on my life.  No, I want the Spirit’s nudge again so I’ll express what I’m thinking to them, even if they aren’t facing a terminal diagnosis.  After all, no one is guaranteed tomorrow on planet earth.

And no one can smell the flowers on his coffin.

 

Remember the person away from Christ for whom you prayed for years,  then he repented?

“Do it again, Lord!”

Remember the excruciating trial that made you think you couldn’t keep going, yet God’s Spirit sustained you and deepened your faith through it?

“Do it again, Lord!”

Remember the time you taught a Bible study group and it seemingly made a difference in the lives of learners?

Do it again, Lord!”

 

What is one takeaway from this post that you can apply to your pilgrimage as a Christian?

In the struggles I recounted, what spiritual weapons did I wield?

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like:

Comments

Leave a Comment