For a long time, I hated messages of hope. I have heard many messages of hope and breakthrough that did not live up to my real life. Every one of those messages was a blow to my relationship with the Lord, chipping a massive crack between us. So, I stopped listening in order to preserve what little relationship I had left with Him.
Recently, I heard a message of hope I was able to receive for the first time in almost 12 years. It was given by our Pastor, Tim Holt, at Seacoast Vineyard Church in Myrtle Beach, SC. You can watch the message here:“Making My Life Count Week 2,” April 15th.
Pastor Tim talks about a man named Admiral Stockdale who was a POW in Vietnam for 8 years. He was tortured over 20 times. Now, I wasn’t tortured in a Vietnam POW camp, but I’ve experienced some physical pain. The doctor diagnoses me and says, “How much morphine do you want my dear? Here is a script for a large bottle and high dose of Oxy, let me know if you need more.” But when it started, I was pregnant and unable to take medication for over 12 weeks. Many of you know the stories so I won’t rehash them here. Life has been rough for 12 years.
Pastor Tim talks about the admiral speaking of those who didn’t make it out of the POW camp. Many men would say, “This Christmas,” or “This Easter, we will be rescued.” Then Christmas would pass, then Easter, and they were not rescued. Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. Many did not make it.
This is how I lived my life for so many years. “Let me just get through this turn in the road or this hardship.” However, at every turn a new, harder circumstance appeared, chipping away at me until I got to a point where I believed that God was rejecting me, and there is no end. So, let me just get through this death, this pregnancy, Jack being born sick, medical debt, this pancreatitis, this pancreatitis again, etc. and things will get better. Disappointment after disappointment piling up in a case file of evidence against why God does not love me until 12 years have gone by.
Admiral Stockdale said, “I never lost faith in the end of the story.” You deal with setbacks; you never trade faith that you will prevail in the end. If you want to make your life count you have to keep your eye on the goal line, not the next turn in the race. We have to see the whole picture not just what is in front of us. And when you are in the valley of the shadow of death, frankly, seeing the end seems nigh impossible, but this POW saw the end and held faith. It takes purpose, focus, and self-control. Which is why one of the fruits of the Spirit IS self- control and why love is patient.
Pastor Tim goes on to talk about the parable of the Talents. He says everyone has ability. This is not only about money. It’s about time, energy, character, such as being a forgiving person or a persistent person or loyal, property, art, music, etc. Talent is so much. It’s not a matter of how much you have been given but what you have been given. Age does not matter. It’s how you use what you have inside and outside at this moment in your life. Your energy, wisdom, kindness, love, experiences, your failures and weaknesses can be assets! What did you learn from that moment of weakness? Your failures taught you wisdom you can pass on! How can you use your experiences and what you have been given to help and give love to the next person you meet?
Pastor Tim also said, “Everyone has possibility. Everyone who has anything has the possibility to do great things!” This moment really spoke to me. Because
through my pain, anger, bitterness, and weakest hours the Lord showed me how all along I had been kind to most everyone I met. The Lord showed me His perception of me and how the moments I stopped to breathe instead of yelling at my kids were investment. He showed me that I was not the person who buried my talent in the sand even though I was not preaching on a big stage while running a massive ministry. He showed me the investment of trying to reach one more despite my own circumstance.
All along I have felt buried. I felt like God was rejecting me because I wasn’t on a stage or performing at the level Mom and Dad did. He showed me, I did not need to be on a stage in front of thousands, but it was the one person across the room in my world here at home.
CS Lewis wrote, “You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” I cannot change dad’s death or all those years I was angry at God. But I can change my story now. This message was a message of hope because it has given me a way to respond in the midst of my terrible circumstances.
I still have possibility and so do you! I am not a buried talent or the guy who buried his talent. I am one of the ones who invested and that gives me hope. It gives me purpose here and now with these circumstances. God does not promise to save us from the fire, but He is with us in the fire. You can become one of the investors too. Listen to Pastor Tim’s message. Start with one simple change. Volunteer in your local church. Start exercising for 10 minutes every other day. Visit your local nursing home and make a new friend. No matter your age, failure, or lack- you have possibility!