When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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The Approval of God

April 17, 2017

Oswald Chambers writes, “Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.”

That sentence brought a flood of memories into my spirit for until recently I was that one who needed the approval of the audience. I believe that’s why God called me to be a pastor in my latter years and why he couldn’t call me in my youth. Breathing “Will you like me?” in and out each day, I would have been a disaster as a pastoral leader.

Trying to be a pleaser is a great hindrance to a Christian’s growth and witness. God, who is wise beyond my years, instituted a training ground for me. It was hard. It was painful. It was necessary. The journey from “Like me?” to “I’m okay if you don’t” was forged through pain, rejection, humiliation, and hurt.

Sometime hurting people ask me, “Why did God do this to me? I try to do the right thing. I go to church. I’m not a bad person. Why do I have to face this pain while others seem to go about their day, carefree and not even acknowledging God in their lives? Yet, this great pain has come to me?”

What I want to say I can’t always say, for they are not ready to hear it. When you’ve just buried your child, you don’t want to hear how God will use you to help other hurting parents. Telling a newly divorced person that God might give her a ministry to troubled marriages is just not smart. However it’s true that God has to take us into valleys in order to teach us, groom us, love us and make us worthy for the next phase in our lives. We don’t like to hear this, but the truth is that God is always up to something deeper in our lives. He is always up to getting us ready to be used by him in this troubled world.

I’m so thankful that God took up so much time with me, so much patient, loving time that I did not deserve. He didn’t criticize or forsake me when I needed the approval of the audience. He lovingly brought me safely through that passageway of life to where I now look for only the approval of my Master. I’ve never been happier.

What a precious God we serve.

The Rev. B.J. Funk, associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald, has written a book with 50 devotionals on grief based on her personal experience. “Grief is not a Permanent Condition: 50 Devotionals to Help You Through the Grieving Process” points the reader to Jesus and the hope found in Him. Visit www.bjfunkgrief.com for more information and to order. Email Rev. Funk at bjfunk@bellsouth.net.

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