by John Armstrong
The phone rang early this morning; it was before the hour that proper etiquette would allow for regular phone calls, so I sprang from my bed to see who was calling. As a pastor, I’m not unused to getting calls at odd hours and usually those calls are to alert me to some problem or situation that requires my immediate attention. That is not a problem for me, it comes with the work, I don’t mind it at all. That is the nature of being a shepherd, the sheep don’t have tragedies and needs that always line up with regular working hours. It is my sincere privilege and honor to be there to help in those times. There are times however, when people do cross the line by reaching out for help for problems that are not there, or for problems that are not emergencies. In those cases, I often ask myself, why is this person reaching out to me first and not to God? Maybe they have prayed about it, but they are looking for support from someone they can trust. I’m glad they think they can trust me, that is no small thing. Then I have to ask myself, if I do the same kind of thing. The answer is usually yes, if I’m honest and look deeply enough I do the very same kinds of things. Why is that? Why am I looking for someone to help me and comfort me, before I’ve taken my problem to the One who really can do something about it? We are tangible creatures looking for tangible answers to our problems whatever they may be. We tend to forget that we are spiritual creatures that need spiritual answers too. If we find our spiritual answers first, they often put our tangible problems in a new light. When we are trusting our sovereign God, who loves us more than we can fully grasp, then we can know rest in the midst of trials and troubles of any kind. Now, understand, we need to be taking our concerns to our heavenly Father that is the first best place to go, right to the throne of grace. After that, share your concerns, problems, needs, etc. with your brothers and sisters in Christ. That is why we have the church, that is why we are the church. We are to be as Paul so aptly put it, “bearing one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). Jesus tells us we are supposed to be salt and light in this world. That begins in the household of faith, with Christians loving one another and having enough relationship with each other that we do know and trust each other with our burdens. We encourage each other to growing discipleship, to growing in grace by seeking to walk with Jesus ever more deeply. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are a community of people loving and trusting God and in turn able to love and support one another. The world will see us doing that and will know we are different and God will get the glory. One of the things I learned in my studies for my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, was that professional counseling is really only needed in about 15% of cases. Most of the time, about 85% of the time, the people presenting for counseling really only need someone to really listen to them. Most people have the resources to solve their problems if they know there is someone who cares. As a Christian you have that and more. You have a heavenly Father who wants you to pour out your heart to Him, and you have a community of brothers and sisters who will care for you. That is how it is supposed to be, unfortunately, that is not how it always is. At Faith Church, we want to be a community of rest, where these things are true of us. We are growing, pray that the Lord would continue to grow us into a loving and caring church body.