What Have You Lost?

Have you ever been sure of something, but then, it didn’t happen like you thought?

You were just sure he’d ask you to the prom. He didn’t. You were sure your team would beat your rival school from across town. They won. You were sure you’d get that key promotion. It went to the new guy. You were sure he was the man of your dreams. The marriage ended in divorce.

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In high school ROTC, we had inspection every Friday during class. Best-Dressed competition was voluntary.

You arrived an hour before school started for an intense inspection. Uniforms were checked down to the minutest detail. Creases had to be perfect, and shirts wrinkle free. Ribbons were attached and patches sown the exact regulation distance from pockets or seams. Shoes shone like mirrors. Brass was polished to a perfect shine – no smudges, and no left over traces of Brasso Polish. The smallest “cable” (loose thread) was a demerit. You had to be able to answer any question over anything you had been taught regarding military science from chain of command, to weapons, to first aid…. I won.

On awards day, I even received the Brigade’s highest honors, Senior Army Instructor’s Ribbon, the Military Excellence ribbon, and the District Army Instructor’s ribbon. Whoever won Best-Dressed their junior year, was a shoo-in for Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Commander, as a senior. The winner of the Military Excellence award sometimes even made full Colonel, Brigade Commander, over all the schools in the district.

Senior year came and promotions were announced. Battalion commander went to someone else. He hadn’t even placed 3rd in Best-dressed. Everyone was shocked. I was promoted to Major, S-2, third in command of the battalion. After class, I asked the instructor why. He said it went to the guy with the highest overall GPA. No one had ever said anything about that to us before. We thought it went to the guy who was the best in ROTC. I was disappointed.

I didn’t let it bother me too much, though. ROTC was something for high school, but as a youth, Africa seemed to be in my future. I was going to be a missionary. But, that’s a whole ‘nother plan. Over the next few posts, I’ll share some other unexpected turns in my life and look at how we can deal with those events in the light of God’s Word (if everything works according to plan).

Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way we expect. It may be something simple. Or it may be something that seems to alter the course of our entire life.

Can you relate? What plans have you had that didn’t work out the way you expected? Small or large, can you share a time when it seemed your best plans and dreams were ship-wrecked?

Welcome

I grew up going to church. The church I attended was a good one. Well attended, growing, reaching out to the community. The preaching was good. We had a good youth program. Choir, etc., I think you get the idea.

At an early age I felt called to the ministry. I thought it was going to be foreign missions. I think God let me think that because He had a lesson He knew I needed to learn later on. (Someday I’ll share that story).

Right after I graduated high school, I led singing at revival services at a little church in Shreveport. The Levy Street Mission was in an area my sociology professor would call a “zone in transition.” It was in a run down neighborhood that was well on its way changing from residential to industrial. It was a poor part of town. Some of the members were elderly, and had lived in that neighborhood many years. Others just couldn’t afford nicer homes than the raggedy little houses that remained in that neighborhood. Still others lived in nearby apartments or government housing projects.

As I stood before that little congregation each night and led the singing, I was struck by the big smiles on their faces. When they sang the hymns, they really meant what they were singing. There was joy in their hearts that showed on their faces.

The next Sunday, back at my church, standing with the congregation as we sang, I felt the urge to look around. I was struck by the blank looks on the faces. Everyone seemed to just be mouthing the familiar words of the hymns. It was like their minds were somewhere else and the hymns meant nothing.

A thought hit me. It was a strange thought in that it wasn’t like I came up with it. It wasn’t like “I need to do this.” It was more like I was being spoken to. “I don’t need you in foreign missions. I have plenty for you to do in this country.”

That’s the reason for this blog. Over the years I have learned God is (He exists), and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. He is faithful. When others aren’t, He is. When I’m not, He is. When life gets hard, He is still faithful. Because He is, I have a basis for faith, joy, and even thanksgiving, no matter what. And, I have come to see that one of the key lessons the church needs to learn, in order to put the joy back in their hearts and the smile back on their faces, is giving thanks. It’s about faith. It’s about God’s faithfulness. It’s about God’s purposes. It’s about being thankful, always for all things.

Eventually, I’ll be posting probably two or three times per week. I don’t want to overload your inbox. I invite you to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the conversation. And yes, I hope it will be a conversation. I invite you to comment on the posts, and on other people’s comments. You can check my comment guidelines if you’d like.

So, how about you? Have you ever felt like you were in the “church of the frigidaire?” Have you ever had a time when you felt like God truly spoke to you? And most importantly, what do you have to be thankful for?