First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Everything? Even adversity? How you and I deal with adversity determines largely how we advance through life in the journey of faith? Everyone deals with some level of adversity in this world. For some, it lingers for long time. Question is, does adversity make you stronger in your faith service or does it sideline you with an overwhelming sense of failure?

In reading a few weeks ago, I ran across some thoughts from Max Lucado that I believe worth your time, especially if you are on what Max refers to as the anvil of God and feel like you're being pounded upon relentlessly.

Max writes--"On God's anvil. Perhaps you've been there. Melted down. Formless. Undone. Placed on the anvil for...reshaping? (A few rough edges too many.) Discipline? ("A good father disciplines.") Testing? (But why so hard?) I know. I've been on it. It's rough. It's a spiritual slump, a famine. The fire goes out. Although the fire may flame for a moment, it soon disappears. We drift downward. Downward into the foggy valley of question, the misty lowland of discouragement. Motivation wanes. Desire is distant. Responsibilities are depressing.

Passion? It slips out the door.

Enthusiasm? Are you kidding?

Anvil time.

It can be caused by death, a breakup, going broke, going prayerless. The light switch is flipped off and the room darkens. "All the thoughtful words of help and hope have been nicely said. But I'm still hurting, wondering..."

On the anvil.

Brought face-to-face with God out of the utter realization that we have nowhere else to go. Jesus in the garden. Peter with a tear-streaked face. David after Bathsheba. Elijah and the "still, small voice." Paul, blind in Damascus.

Pound. pound. pound.

I hope you're not on the anvil. (Unless you need to be, and if so, I hope you are.) Anvil time is not to be avoided; it's to be experienced. Although the tunnel is dark, it does go through the mountain. Anvil time reminds us of who we are and who God is. We shouldn't try to escape it. To escape it could be to escaped God.

God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty.

An instrument is useful only if it's in the right shape.

*(inspiring words) A dull ax or a bent screwdriver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God.

Should God place you on His anvil, be thankful. It means that He thinks you're still worth reshaping." end (On the Anvil--pg.45-46)

Adversity can be used to our advantage when God is the One holding the hammer, controlling the heat and holding securely those who believe with the tongs of trustworthiness as He with just the right amount of force forms us for His usefulness.

He sees you as His instrument, shaped with precision for His purpose.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Through the pain and the pounding, find a way to praise Him in the hard times of adversity!

Remember He has you in mind and well in hand and give thanks.

Be encouraged,

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36