Why Me?

Yesterday, as is traditional in our worship assembly, we began with singing “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. I’m always jolted to the reality of the seriousness of what is about to happen…worship—obeisance toward the Almighty. It’s a time to be real and reverent before the One who knows the inner recesses of heart and soul.
Late on Saturday night, a few short hours before entering the place of worship, I had gotten a call from a weeping mother—someone who had gotten the bad news that her daughter was in serious sexual trouble. Police had been involved and this desperate mom was searching for answers about parenting, about locating the right medical and counseling personnel. Even in the midst of her parental nightmare, I could not help but think about how far this mom had come from being a homeless victim of sexual abuse as a young teen in a large northern city. Seven years ago her perspectives changed when someone knocked on her apartment door and shared the gospel with her. While it was too late for all her regrets to be “fixed” this side of eternity, still, she was now at least looking in the right direction for the answers to the hard questions and predicaments caused by sin.
Then we sang, “He leadeth me, oh blessed thought! Oh words with heavenly comfort fraught. Whate’er I do, where-e’er I be, still tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”
I looked to my left and saw one of my deaf friends, Jennifer, recently baptized, faithful and fruitful, putting enthusiasm into the worship she offered through her hands as she “sang” songs we couldn’t hear, but that surely reached the throne. I saw Troy, putting all he had into leading this deaf section of worshippers. Troy just meandered over to our building one day from the nearby apartments. He was seeking truth. He learned it quickly, was baptized into Jesus and became one of the best Bible students in the church, as well as one of our best deaf interpreters. Troy lost his mom in a tornado when he was thirteen. His father is an atheist. I praised God as I watched Troy signing:
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,? Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,? By waters still, over troubled sea,? Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

I was happy, as I watched him, that God, through providence, had led Troy to a place in His life where he has a real family.
In front of me was a faithful family diligently working to raise their precious children for Him. I have personally been involved in some of their struggles. I have watched them cry in some pretty desperate times. But I watch them sing, now:
And when my task on earth is done, When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won, E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

And, in my arms I held a baby…a sweet little curly-haired Hispanic baby girl, whose mom was visiting our services. This sweet young woman found her way to Huntsville, Alabama after some pretty devastating circumstances caused her to leave her mother country. She’s a hard worker, sending money back home to her ailing mother. She has been studying the Bible with me and I am praying she will soon become a part of God’s family. I sang about the old rugged cross, knowing it holds the only hope for the little girl who slept in my arms. I pray that her sweet mother will respond in faith to the cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.
And after worship, I would get to study with Clare. Clare is visiting our services, too and she has a heart for Bible study. She, too, is seeking. She comes even when the person who initially invited her is out of town and our next study will be composed of questions she has compiled from the pretty massive amounts of Bible reading she is doing on her own. Yesterday she brought another family member to worship with her.
And I sang:
Come thou fount of every blessing. Tune my heart to sing thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise.

And as I praised the Fount, I thought, “Why me, Lord? Why was I born into a home where the gospel had already had its eternal impact on my parents? How was I so blessed to keep those parents through my childhood? Why am I the teacher instead of the seeker? I’ve never lost a loved one to a natural disaster or fled a country because of terror. Why me? Why am I blessed to be married to the one who gets up and proclaims the saving message? Who are these unbelievably tender people on the pew here with me, whose voices are so beautiful when they are blending together in praise? They are my children! Why me?”
And I sang “Teach me ever to adore Thee, May I still thy goodness prove. While the hope of endless glory fills my heart with joy and love.” My heart was full as I thought about the question: Why me?
I know I must go about proving His glory. With the realization of blessings in the extreme comes multiplied opportunities and my responsibilities gain new dimensions. I have to just look around me–in worship, in my neighborhood, and in my email—to realize the debt I owe. I must be filled with love for the lost. I must be willing to sacrifice time for those who struggle. I must share my remarkable hope of endless glory. Therein lies the answer, at least in part, to the question, “Why me?”

Can You Have Knowledge Without Zeal?

As a parent and teacher, I can get frustrated really quickly and thoroughly when I see wasted intellectual potential…kids who have plenty of smarts and know what to do, but just don’t have the self motivation to make the grade. Frustration is replaced by sadness when I look, then, at another child who gets very excited about learning, but perhaps because of a disability or some other roadblock to knowledge will likely never excel academically. It’s the knowledge-motivation combination that spurs kids on to success. It takes both.

It’s interesting that the scriptures make a spiritual application to this dual key to success. In Romans 10, when Paul was lamenting over the lost house of Israel, he said in verse two that they had zeal, but it was not according to knowledge. They could get very excited about religion. But zeal, without the guidance of knowledge, is dangerous. In fact, it was misguided zeal that prompted the mob to call for the crucifixion of Christ.

Last Sunday night, I came to appreciate, once again, the blessing of being in a congregation of God’s people who are characterized by both knowledge and zeal. The lesson Sunday night consisted of questions and answers. Throughout the month, members place their Bible-related questions in the question box and then, on the third Sunday night of each month, the lesson covers as many of those questions as the hour allows. The depth of study reflected in the kinds of questions asked always amazes me.  Lots of these questions are about the meanings of specific passages. Some are about applying difficult passages in our culture. Often, the questions reflect that our members are having studies with non-Christians. I get very excited about the way the Christians at West Huntsville are in the book. (You can hear these Question/Answer sessions, by the way, at www.westhuntsville.org.)

Last Sunday night we went straight from this intense period of Biblical inquiry to a planning session to prepare for our yearly Family Bible Week. I have never seen a group of adults so excited about volunteering for huge amounts of work! I was a few moments late getting to the meeting and they were calling me on my cell phone to get input on which Bible account we wanted to choose for our group skit. They were very excited to inform me that, since they couldn’t reach me, they had picked Paul’s Shipwreck from Acts 27. “Shipwrecks are very exciting, “ they said. “We can really get the kids’ attention and they can learn all kinds of things!…Now who all can we recruit to help? Let’s try to get a bunch of people who need to get to know more people….This skit is going to be awesome… Let’s put the part in where Paul was bitten by the snake. Kids will love that…”

…I bear them record. They have a zeal for God that IS according to knowledge. Thinking about this exhilarating meeting made me ponder zeal and knowledge when I got home. It’s easy to have zeal without knowledge. You can get worked up easily about erroneous ideas. But it’s very hard to have the knowledge that comes from God’s word and not have zeal for working in the kingdom, helping the needy and sharing the gospel. The gospel is good news! The Bible is full of eternally exciting stuff. It’s hard to truly know God’s grace, His plan and His promises without getting pumped about getting that message to the world.  You can have zeal without knowledge, but I think real knowledge without zeal would require a pretty calloused heart.