By Scott Stake
As many of you know, I recently had back surgery to repair a herniated disc. It's been tough for sure, but the doctor says it was successful and I should be back to normal soon! But over the last month, God has done more than begin healing my back. He also has been gracious to heal my heart and show me several important things that I'd like to share with you today. Maybe you could call it lessons learned while on your back! So, here they are:
Lesson #1: The Value of Community
First, I have seen the value of community in a big way! When we go through suffering & pain, sometimes we can have a tendency to pull away and isolate ourselves. We don't want to worry others or to let on how much we may be hurting. But God calls us to invite others in, particularly in times of difficulty. For me, I wish I could say I was always quick to ask for help or share how I was feeling, but I often tried to do things on my own and found myself increasingly discouraged and disheartened. But God in His kindness not only blessed me with an amazing family but also provided timely texts, prayers, phone calls, and personal visits from my church family to give me the counsel, hope, and comfort I needed to help me persevere through the pain. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-2, I urge you to walk...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Four Oaks, thank you for bearing my burdens, encouraging my spirit, and patiently supporting me during this time!
Lesson #2: The Importance of Rest
Busyness is one of our key values in society. If we are busy, it somehow feels like we are important, valuable, or needed. Work and activity is where we often find our identity. But I've come to find that being busy all the time is not good for my soul. While work and activity are gifts from God in their rightful place, rest is a gift from Him to enjoy as well. Our bodies need rest. When we're tired and run down, God is calling us to slow our pace and take a nap or a vacation! To sit and be quiet, to cease from work, to not answer the phone or check email...that has been a wonderful gift to me and an offer to you as well! But physical rest also points us to a deeper rest, a deeper trust that is needed--a spiritual refreshment that can be found only in Christ. Jesus says to us, Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28). This is where the true heart work must take place. For us to find our identity not in what we do but in what Christ has done for us. Four Oaks, may we rest in Jesus today!
Lesson #3: The Assurance of God's Steadfast Love
Finally, God's steadfast love has been an anchor for my soul. It's a beautiful phrase in the Scriptures that often goes along with "endures forever." This is a great truth and promise for sure! But as I looked at this great attribute of our God, I noticed that it's not just an eternal characteristic but also an activity. Listen to what God's steadfast love does for His people: it leads, pardons, saves, surrounds, preserves, redeems, satisfies, and destroys all our enemies. But for me, Psalm 94:18-19 is my favorite: When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Did you hear that? God's steadfast love holds us up! When we feel like we may be slipping, His love won't let us. His love powerfully holds us and keeps us safe. What a privilege to be known and loved by an amazing God whose steadfast love endures and holds us up forever!
Four Oaks, know that I really appreciate you and all your care for us as a family! May God continue reminding us of the value of community, the importance of rest, and the assurance of His steadfast love!
By Scott Stake