I’m So Far Behind…But God is Good

It’s been one of those months…

This month has been a fun one. It hasn’t been without any of the normal student ministry drama, family shenanigans, and personal health situations. Throughout all of that, I’ve managed to miss my weekly Inscription post all but once or twice. I cannot express how awful I feel about that, especially because I love getting to sit down and share what the Lord has been doing in my life, and praying that it encourages someone along the way.

Throughout all of the crazy that’s happened, God has moved in some incredible ways. One of the situations that occurred was me having a nodule on my vocal cord. Along with that, my doctor assigned me to not speak for 2 weeks. I’m a student pastor, y’all. I don’t have time to not be able to talk, much less for two weeks during the summer. But alas, I followed the directions of my ENT…for a week.

During that time, I got to sit back and watch. I had the opportunity to see my students worshiping, unhindered, at camp. I got to listen to one of my adult volunteers teach, followed by one of my students who is called to ministry, teach for the first time. He knocked it out of the park, by the way.

There are lessons in strugglebus times

Several people have asked what God is teaching me through this situation. The first week of this time, I was so wrapped up in self-pity and frustration that I was missing what I needed so badly. I needed to stop trying to do it all and just listen and watch for God to move.

One of my fellow local ministers shared a passage in 1 Kings 19 with me, and I missed it when he shared it with me. After reading it a few times, I finally got what his point was. The passage was 1 Kings 19:9-13, which says:

 “There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

At camp, during the second week of my assigned silence, one of my good friends and mentors was teaching about silence with God. He, of course, made the required jokes about how I should be the one teaching the study. But, his passage to teach on was none other than the one my other friend shared with me the week before. The Lord officially had my attention.

Being still is hard, but is necessary

Once I decided to watch and listen to what God was going to do, I saw the Holy Spirit moving in my students. We had one of our students give her life to Jesus, which is amazing on its own. Her back story, however, is what makes everything so much sweeter. This particular student had been fighting the Lord for a while on whether or not she had a real relationship with Jesus. She wasn’t sure if she just had a case of coattail faith. Wednesday night, she relented and gave it all to Jesus. The peace in her persona is undeniable, and is a direct result of surrendering it all to Jesus.

She was one of three students from our group who surrendered it all to Jesus. As I was sitting back, not singing but watching, I saw the look of relief on these students’ faces as they gave Jesus control of their lives. They had heard the soft whisper that Elijah had heard. In the chaos of my own head, I had been trying to listen to the whisper. I’d missed it because I couldn’t get past my own perceived problems. Once I got over and past the self-pity, I began to realize that I don’t have to be able to use my voice to worship God. I don’t have to be able to physically sing to be able to cry out to Him. It’s okay to live vicariously through watching others praise Jesus.

What’s been my takeaway from this whole thing? I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not convinced that God is done teaching me. I’m not convinced that I’ve really heard the gentle whisper. I’m anxiously awaiting to find out for myself what “life lesson” God is going to teach. I know it’ll happen, but until I know exactly what it is, I’ll keep trying to listen through the noise.

God is Good. He loves us. Sometimes we have to just shut up, grow a nodule on our vocal cord, and listen.

What ways has God used to get your attention and caused you to slow down, give up control, and listen?

Phillip Whitfield
Phillip Whitfield is a passionate follower of Jesus and a youth pastor, husband, father, and an all around nice guy! When he's not sun tanning on the beach in South Texas, he's studying to teach young people about Jesus and hoping to support parents in raising up their children in the ways of God so that they never depart from it!

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