I was asked the other day why I call the blog Hope for Discouraged Christians? To explain this phrase I need to go back to the beginning. I spent 16 years being a discouraged Christian. I never stopped being a believer in Jesus but I just drifted away from any type of commitment to my faith.
When I was first diagnosed with MS I was unable to continue with my work as a Pastor so Ruth and I moved to St. Andrews, NB, where there would be less stress, cleaner air and a better climate for MS than where we were living. It turned out to be a perfect move for us and my health didn’t deteriorate as rapidly as predicted.
On a spiritual note we didn’t connect with a church or make many Christian friends. At first the biggest reason for not getting involved was that I was too ill to sit through a Church service. Later it was because I was no longer in the habit and found it easy to “sleep in” rather than put the physical effort into getting ready to attend a church service.
With no close Christian friends and no church connection it became easy to stop reading my Bible and become careless in my prayer life. To sum it up, I was a Christian in name with no commitment to the faith that I purported to believe in. Then one day out of the blue God woke me up out of my slumber and almost over night I found myself yearning to know God again. It was as if God was whispering in my ear and calling me to snap out of my 16 year long stupor and put my trust in Him.
That day, lying in my bed sensing the presence and leading of God, was the most transforming spiritual event of my life. In my early twenties I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, was baptized and enjoyed an exciting spiritual journey, but I believe that overwhelming presence of God I experienced that day changed me.
Over the next weeks I studied almost non-stop and reconnected with God through prayer. For the first time in 16 years I didn’t feel disappointed in God for the loss of my Ministry and I didn’t feel alone or abandoned. Slowly the reality of my situation dawned on me. I had felt God had let me down by not healing me and keeping me in the Ministry I so loved. Now instead of feeling sorry for myself I realized that God was here with me in this town and had a purpose for my being here.
Israel and the nations around them believed that God was a God of place. Their God lived in one certain local and if you moved away, you moved away from your God. That is why Babylon and Assyria transported people into captivity. It was to separate them from their god’s and therefore make the nation weak and discouraged. Remember Ezekiel’s wheel within wheel vision? No, it wasn’t Ezekiel seeing UFOs, but a vision that revealed to him that God travelled with the children of Israel into captivity. God would never abandon His people and no matter where they were He was there with them.
That was the lesson I needed to learn. Though I no longer was where I wanted to be in ministry, God was still with me. That might seem like a no brainer for many Christians reading this blog but for those of you who struggle with the issue of where is God in your discouragement and loss, you know what I am saying.
One morning I woke with a start with a strong impression I was suppose to write a blog and it was to help people like myself who faced discouragement in their journey. The problem was I had never read a blog in my life, didn’t know how to write one or create the template to make it happen. God soon worked all that out with lots of help from Ruth and my friend Cindy.
The title of the blog The Beggar Danced comes from the experience of the beggar at the Gate called Beautiful who called out to Peter and John for alms, but instead received healing. His response to being able to walk was to go dancing and jumping throughout the Temple. I thought this is a wonderful story of what worship and awe for God should be like. We should be filled with joy that overflows into dancing through the House of the Lord because of His goodness to us.
So, the truth of the blog is that I write it for my own encouragement. Every time I write the blog I remember how discouraged I was for so many years and in the words of the blog I recommit myself to God. When you read these posts you are simply getting an insight into my own journey with God. But, I also write with the knowledge that most of you are no different than me. You have faced your challenges, your own battles with discouragement and feelings of separation from God.
When I write I take all this into consideration and thus the contradiction in the titles. The Beggar Danced is the joy of becoming free in Christ and the subtitle Hope for Discouraged Christians is the acknowledgement that our journey with Jesus is not always easy and straightforward. Together these two elements make up the Christian life. By the grace of God we become dancers in the halls of the Lord and our trust in God transforms us from discouragement to joy.
You could do a couple of favors for me if you would. If you haven’t already “liked” The Beggar Danced on Facebook I would appreciate it if you would. The second favor is please continue to let your friends know about the blog and encourage them to read it. I am very pleased with how many people read it but would love to see even more. And for those of you who read this blog faithfully I want to thank you for that support and for your feedback. It is deeply appreciated.
* Please remember in prayer those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates on persecution of Christians.