Shannon and I just returned late this week from leading a retreat at Lake Livingston. We were at the Trinity Pines Conference Center. The sheer beauty of that lake is amazing. I arose before dawn on Thursday and walked out across a bridge onto a small island near the shore. There were all sorts of ducks and migrating birds around. Deer lined the shores. Bass at least 15 inches long and more were jumping out of the water as they captured prey near the surface. The water was dark but clear. When the sun came up, the view was amazing. A friend of many years who was at the retreat walked up just before sunrise to stand by my side. We talked of the work of the Lord as the sun came up and then prayed together at daybreak. Times like these are vital to us in the hustle and bustle of life.
The work of the Lord is difficult in our day. A major cause of the difficulty is summed up with one central reality. The church has forgotten her proper relationship to God. Go to any bookstore and survey the titles of Christian books. You will find that a disproportionate number are focused on making the lives of Christians better. To be sure Jesus told us that he came to bring “abundant life”. However, there is one key reality that must never be forgotten. It is our calling to glorify God. It is not God’s responsibility to gratify us. To hear many talk today you would think that God is supposed to serve us rather than for us to serve God. This mentality creates a spoiled, frustrated church. Spoiled because the constant question on their minds is “Why don’t I get what I need from God or the church?” Frustrated because in our fallen condition we will never find the perfection we are conditioned to expect. That perfection awaits us when we stand in the presence of our Savior. Selfish thinking and selfish living are wreaking havoc on the American church. As I contemplate the economic crisis, I wonder if God is not seeking to break us of our love of self and stuff so that we can freshly fall in love with Him. The simplicity of an hour on the shore of a lake at sunrise cost me nothing, but enriched me immeasurably.