Dear Theophilus, εραστής του Θεού

Sunset ChurchDid you know that one of the common effects of depression is a loss of the sense of God’s presence? Although some people never seem to sense spiritual things at any time, even among those who are spiritually alive, depression is like a great weight that squashes all the stuffings out of us, compressing the pillow of our consolations into a one-dimensional blackness no more comforting than an unplugged flat-screen TV. We see only our failures and superficiality. That last half of the cup drains out until there’s nothing left at all. Some of the most godly people I’ve known have suffered from depression, and it’s sadly even more common in our aging population. I want to address my thoughts this morning to all these precious souls. The specifics of your life may differ, but God’s love for you will be the same:Hinds Feet in High Places copyDear Theophilus, I’ve known you for more than 20 years and admired you always. There was never a time when you stood up before our congregation that you didn’t have something worth saying…something that provoked me to meditate on God in a fresher, deeper way. You taught my children’s Sunday school class and introduced them to the saints. You opened your home to countless people, took in missionaries and students who needed a place to stay, and showed amazing hospitality to everyone in our entire church family. You are God’s child, God’s gift. You were bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. He will never leave you nor forsake you. To know him is life eternal.Rainy flightDo you wonder if Buddhists will come into the kingdom ahead of you…or that perhaps you will not make it at all? Do you see your own hedonism and wonder why you haven’t been transformed into a new creature without spot or wrinkle? Why are the strivings of the flesh still troubling your soul? Why this deep, dark valley instead of feeding beside quiet streams? Why this dark night of the soul?MoonriseI’m not a philosopher, nor do I have insight into the mysteries of God, but may I remind you of a passage from 1 John 2? “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:23-25).Sunset in OahuEntrance into the kingdom of God is not based on our good works, but on our faith in Christ. None of us have done enough good to deserve heaven…even the best Buddhists! We’re saved by faith alone through God’s grace. To know God is to possess life eternal, but as long as we’re living in the flesh, we struggle with the flesh. We won’t become like Him until we cast off these mortal coils and spring heavenward…where we’ll see him face to face. Meanwhile, there are times of resting beside the still waters and times of journeying through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but God is always with us, even when we can’t see him through the blackness. May his rod and staff comfort you during those times when you cannot see his face.Hawaii rainbow

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