P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders
Quit Pushing the Car! – Post Script©
by Robert E. Alderman, Jr.
There is so much encouragement to be found in the testimonies and lives of others who have gone before us that I think the best post script to “Quit Pushing the Car!”© and Major Thomas’s personal learning experience of that truth is to share the stories of two other authors I have enjoyed over the years of how they struggled but eventually reached that same point of blessed living:
Charles Stanley from – “Living the Extraordinary Life:”
Before the concept of abiding in Christ became a reality for me, I already had been a pastor for eight years. I’d been to college and seminary, and I thought that the full Christian life meant preaching, studying the Bible, witnessing to people, serving people, and so forth. After eight years, however, I knew there had to be more.
I was spiritually stuck at a dead-end road. At that time, I was preaching from the book of Galatians, and when I came to the fifth chapter, I became genuinely concerned. I thought to myself, “In two more Sundays, I’m going to preach on the fruit of the Spirit, and God will show me there isn’t a lot of peace, love, joy, and goodness in my life.”
I remember thinking that I felt a lot more spiritual on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday was a different story. I knew something was missing and my heart was troubled.
In near despair, I prayed, “God, either there is more to the Christian life than I have ever known, or I have to stop telling people who You are. How can I keep preaching if the Christian life is just a set of standards to believe in if there is no real victory? I can’t keep going on like this.”
I had fallen victim to the trap of fretting, rushing, and striving. I was working overtime trying to please God and finally came to a point of burnout.
God used the testimony of Hudson Taylor to minister to me. He was a missionary to China who had also came to a point of spiritual weariness until God changed his life with Galatians 2:20 – which says: “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (NIV)
From that, John 15 became a reality to Hudson Taylor and through my reading of his story, it became a reality to me also: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing”.
Charles Swindoll in – “The Mystery of God’s Will”
In the summer of 1961, my life changed. I was already a Christian. In fact, I was between my second and third year in seminary, deeply entrenched in theological studies.
One of my major battles in trying to come to terms with certain truths was the sovereignty of God. When you reach that point, you can no longer leave issues like that in the “unsettled” realm. [However], candidly, the doctrine of sovereignty frightened me.
On a practical level, I was grappling [at the same time] with several issues in my own life that seemed to relate. My wife and I were uncertain about our future. We had been married for six years, and while our marriage was not weak, it wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. And she was carrying our first child, causing both of us to feel somewhat anxious about being parents.
All of this as well as other issues were troubling me. So that summer I decided I really wanted to dig into a book of the Bible, ideally one with a dozen chapters or so to coincide with the twelve weeks we had away from school. I chose the book of Daniel.
I was in the fourth chapter of Daniel when I came upon the truth that transformed my thinking, in fact, changed my life. Daniel 4:24-28: [the revelation by Daniel of the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as to the sovereignty of all things lying with God and not the King – and because Nebuchadnezzar did not acknowledge and accept that, he was literally put out to pasture to graze like a cow until God’s sovereignty was acknowledged and accepted by him.]
[In those verses, God said to Nebuchadnezzar]: “you will be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven…until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes…[yet] your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.
A chill still runs up my spine when I read those words and reflect back on that summer morning. I remember, as if it were yesterday, taking a pencil from my desk and underscoring two lines that were almost identical. In verse 25, “until you recognize” and verse 26: “after you recognize”.
I sat and stared at that passage of Scripture for who knows how long. My heart beat faster, and I broke out in a sweat as I struggled with what I had read. Finally, I told the Lord that I would give up the fight and acquiesce to His plan [for my life rather than trying to make it on my own.] I invited Him to take sovereign charge of my life. I gave Him my marriage. I gave Him my wife. I gave Him the birth of our firstborn. In fact, I surrendered my entire future to Him. And I finished the time on my knees weeping in wonder and with a sense of relief. From then on it would be “God and God alone.”
* * * * *
This message, this truth, this reality is the very foundation needed by every Christian to live the life of fullness and purpose intended by God for them after they receive Christ as their Savior and Lord. The former has to do with life after death and the latter has to do with life now!
As fortunate as we are to have encouragements and reminders like this from Major Thomas, Charles Stanley, Charles Swindoll and many other authors, we need to remember that the message they share is from the ultimate Author and Perfecter of our lives. Even the reason for others before us (or contemporaneously with us) to share in written form their experiences is found in the Bible itself:
“These things happened to them (referring to the nation of Israel) as examples and were written down as warnings to us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it.” (1 Cor 10:11-13) NIV
In Hebrews chapter 11 alone (sometimes referred to as the Halls of Faith), we are given example after example of people who through their acknowledgement, faith and acceptance of God as the sovereign force in their lives were used in mighty ways by God.
Charles Stanley and Charles Swindoll summarize their awesome discovery of letting God be sovereign in their lives (essentially, to “Quit Pushing the Car!”) with these words:
I discovered that it was not my responsibility to strive for anything. My part was to submit my life to God and allow Him to live His life through me. – Charles Stanley
I believe that not until we embrace God’s sovereignty will we have the ability to reason our way through life theologically. Until then, we will be too important in the plan. Man’s opinion will be too significant to us. And we will churn and wrestle and struggle our way through our Christian lives trying too hard to please people rather than living it relieved and relaxed in God’s plan. – Charles Swindoll
Have a great week! (and to my family, love Dad)
Orig writing 12/20/06 – blog posting 03/16/17
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