Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Master

I have just come off a very long weekend that was planned yet at the same time unexpected. I was asked three weeks ago to preach at my former church on the first Sunday in May and lead the Communion. At the time of the request I had two weeks to prepare and began looking at my schedule to see how to fit in my preparation time during the work week. Graciously, God lightened my work week so I could put in the extra time. I was very thankful and rejoicing in the Lord that He knew just what I needed. I was feeling rather content and comfortable with my progress in getting ready for the service. Then, one week before I was set to preach, my 100 year old great aunt passed away. The expectation was for me to officiate the funeral service as the family's "resident minister." I remember panic setting in after I was informed that the funeral was scheduled for Saturday, the day before I was scheduled to preach. I had one week to prepare for the funeral service. I struggled to believe this could be happening but decided that God knows what He is doing and would help me as I prepared for the funeral. Funerals are one of the more challenging aspects of pastoral ministry as they are often unexpected and one must be ready in season and out for when someone passes away. Additionally, there is the emotional side of holding the grief for all those who are mourning. It is especially difficult when the person who dies is a relative or a close friend. The Friday before the funeral, the clients I had scheduled to counsel that morning cancelled, leaving me with only one person to see in the late afternoon. I took advantage of that time to spend with the Lord in prayer and devotional reading. I felt a great sense of peace and a feeling that everything was going to be O.K. I must confess that I was anxious the day of the funeral but the power and presence of the Lord was palpable during the service. Those who attended, both family and friends were highly complimentary of the eulogy. The next day, the Sunday worship service also went well. I was reading this week in my devotional, "Streams In The Desert"  when I was struck by these words, "A person who has Christ as his/her Master is the master of every circumstance." As I meditated on that statement, some words jumped out at me. The first little word that stood out was "is." It does not say we will be the master of every circumstance but that we are, right now and always will be because of Christ. The second word that jumped out at me was "every." It does not say we are masters of some, a few, or occasional circumstances but every circumstance. Regardless of whether we experience the circumstance as positive or negative, we are masters of it. The word "master" is a powerful word. As an African-American it can stir up negative feelings and images of slavery. However, in this case it can evoke positive feelings of control over having done something so well we can replicate it. It occurred to me that because Christ is my Master, I was able to master the circumstances involved with both services. Jesus, told His disciples, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12) It is an overwhelming feeling to think that we can emulate Jesus. In the midst of any particular situation, we are to be "Jesus" for the people. The heart of mastering every circumstance has its roots in faith in Christ. For God has already prepared those situations and circumstances in advance for us to do to His honor and glory. (Ephesians 2:10) My responsibility is to execute my faith and trust that every circumstance can be mastered even though the situation may be unplanned, like a death, or not turn out as expected. I am humbled when I consider how the Lord has used me to shepherd His people. I praise God for His faithfulness as I remember His words to Joshua when He was faced with an overwhelming task upon the death of his mentor, Moses. However, Joshua went on to master the situation because of his faith in God. So I encourage you, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Sheree

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