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Sometimes By Step

September 15, 2022

I love the song Sometimes By Step by Rich Mullins from his album The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume 2. It’s a song about seeing the vastness of what’s around us and then the immense righteousness of God and how both always feel like they’re just out of reach. And His righteousness is out of our reach. If we were required to reach to the heavens to grasp God’s righteousness, we would fall so far short. Grace would be unattainable. Mercy would be just a sad dream of a hopeless man.

Decades ago, God touched my heart when I thought I was out of reach. I was a teenager having moved to a new area of the country, no friends, and hated the life I was being told to live. But God used a neighbor to touch my heart. And so it was, on one summer night, I bowed my heart to the Maker of the Universe and cried out for His help. He was out of my reach, beyond my grasp. But I was not out of His reach. Through my neighbor faithfully sharing the gospel, I came to Jesus. I was irredeemable on my own merits, but Jesus applied His merits to my life. He paid a debt I couldn’t from a love I never thought possible. Who loves things that are worthless?

I found out over the years (and truthfully, I’m still discovering) what I thought was worthless was an accurate statement when left to my own devices. A lump of clay is just a lump of clay. But in the hands of a master that lump of clay can become a masterpiece. An ugly mound of clay, in the right hands, can be turned into a beautiful work of art.

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)
To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.

To me my life seemed a doomed shipwreck until He reached me. I’m still learning that it’s all about Him. My life is all about His glory. And in His infinite love for something the world found worthless, He had other designs and plans for me that would ultimately bring Him glory.

Life has had its share of trials and turns, roadblocks and frustrations, but here I am still serving Him 43 years later. Mistakes filled with brokenness and shame fill my past and yet God is faithful even when we are not. That spiritual lump of human clay claimed by God in the summer of 1979 is still being worked and changed, molded, and made. I look in the mirror and I still see so much of me and not enough of Him. The miracles He does in the lives of people isn’t always completed in an instant. Sometimes it’s ‘by step’. One after another and mostly in the right direction.

Romans 2:4 (NKJV)
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance

After a time of completely living for myself a couple of decades ago and then feeling unusable, the Lord spoke to me and drew me back to Himself in His mercy and love (Romans 2:4). He reminded me of the call placed on my life so many years before. I’m taking steps by faith, trusting Him to lead me. Are they all correct? Is each step in alignment with His divine direction? OH, how I wish. But they are all in the same direction. They are all made with the heart of wanting Jesus lifted up and glorified in my words and deeds. His grace makes up for the lack of perfection in the timing or administrations of my steps.

The recent undertakings my wife and I have made since starting this church in our home a year ago are things He spoke to me decades ago. It didn’t work then (timing is important – read the story of Abraham for example), but I’m seeing God’s hand moving beyond my abilities and talents. God is connecting hearts that seek revival in our community where we’re called to minister. Someone recently told me, “I’m not good at what you’re doing.” I laughed. Neither am I, but I’m stepping out by faith in the One who called me. I have this drive in me that is very much tempered by my own failures of the past and forged with Holy Spirit reminders of His love and direction.

If you read this, know that more details will be forthcoming over the next few weeks and months. God is working, moving, and connecting. The last ten years have been a time of waiting, maturing, preparing for such a time as this. The vision the Lord gave me is so much bigger than me. Thankfully, or I would try to do it in my own strength. I’ve had enough stench-filled failures in my past. But now I’m trusting Him with every aspect of this ministry including His timing. Each day is a new day to pray, listen, obey. And then follow as closely as I can … by step.

Pastor Rick

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