Psalm 73:23-26

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Not too long ago, I heard news which shook me. A friend of mine, on a trip to Israel, had suffered a stroke while in Jerusalem. He is a godly man, not much older than me, who was instrumental in my conversion to Christ. He is also a wonderfully gifted man, a giant of the faith, author of many Christian books, eloquent speaker, with a sharp, incisive mind, leader of a group of Christian brothers who have left all for the sake of Christ and his service. But to many people, he is known most of all as a gifted composer of songs which he shares in his beautiful lilting voice, and are now sung by thousands of Christians every week all over the world.

In the aftermath of his stroke, his once prodigious memory was lost, his sharp mind was dulled, but perhaps most devastatingly, he lost his gift of music – no longer able to play the stirring notes that once flowed from his guitar, no longer able to compose songs that lifted hearts in worship, and no longer able to inspire others with his strong soulful voice. He was once asked by his despondent friends how he felt about losing this gift. Amazingly, he responded, “If the Lord took it away, it must not be important to Him. I am content.”

This, to me, was astounding! God had showered my friend with many incredible gifts and he had built a reputation by his faithful use of those gifts. But…he was not defined by his gifts or his reputation. His strength may have failed; his gifts taken away; his ministry changed. But his identity is secure: Child of God! His inheritance endures: Co-heir with Christ! His heart’s desire remains: Christ alone!

My friend’s response to trial and loss convicts me. I have built a reputation on the things I do well, as a physician at work, as well as my other skills and abilities. Many times, I find myself tempted to find my identity in what I do rather than who I am – a sinner saved by grace and adopted into the family of God through the finished work of Christ on the cross!

Father, we know that you do not promise us happiness in this life, but rather, seek our holiness. In your sovereignty, all may be taken from us: our health, our job, our gifts, our reputation, our family, our friends. Help us not to build our lives on these, so that we may be able to withstand the storms that life will bring us. Set our hearts on Christ alone, that He might be our refuge and strength and our portion forever!

“O my soul! Claim nothing as your own. For you, there is God and God alone!” From the song God Alone! Written by my brother-in-Christ, John Keating

– John Baron

Psalm 16:8-9

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

Confidence, security, and contentment are things that are sought out by the world as means to a balanced life. Some even spend a lifetime chasing after these things believing they result in permanent happiness. While there is nothing sinful per se about confidence, security and contentment, it makes a huge difference, where we seek to find them. The bible says that the way to live is to seek the Lord first. He is always with us; He is our advocate, our support, and our companion for our life journey. In Him we will find our confidence because He has overcome it all, even death! In Him we are always secure even when we struggle or suffer in life. When we turn to the Lord, we are acknowledging our faith in Him and not in ourselves. Lasting confidence, security, and contentment can only be found in pursuing our Heavenly Father.

Being a husband, father, Design Engineer, and ministry leader brings different sets of challenges. Leading a household, an aerospace project, or a group of Deacons requires discernment and wisdom. I’ve found that when I try to take on things on my own, I set myself up for failure. But, when I seek the Lord first in those things, I can find balance in all areas of my life. It doesn’t take long to know when I’ve strayed from the path that God has set out before me. It’s in those times that I give thanks to Him for letting me know when I’ve strayed so I can move toward Him to seek His will for me.

Lord give me the wisdom to turn to you first in everything. Teach me and help me to remember I can do all things through you who give me strength. Each day that I have is a gift of your grace and each day your mercies are new. Help me to start each day fresh on your promises. Thank you for your guidance, unconditional love, and your presence in my life.

– Greg Miller

Psalm 139:13–16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I was born with a hereditary nerve disease. The genetic cause is a double expression of what is called the PMP22 gene. In layman’s term, the nerves that run from my neck to my hands and from my lower back to my feet do not repair themselves as they should. God built into our bodies many repair mechanisms but mine are not fully functional. Overtime, as these nerves are not repaired, they slowly lose their ability to function. And as such I am gradually losing the ability to use and control my hands and feet. With that also comes weakness of the muscles involved.
The verses in Psalm 139 speak of a confession made by an individual (the created one) to God (the Creator) – verse 14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

First, the confession speaks of God’s sovereignty. That God is free to do as He so chooses – that God arranged my genes just the way He wanted them. He chose to include the double expression of the PMP22 gene which resulted in my nerves slowly degrading and slowly losing function. He knew as I was being formed in my mother’s womb that as I grew older, I would become weak in the legs and feet and arms and hands. More importantly, He approved of my creation and blessed it.

Second, the confession speaks of God’s sufficiency. It does not really matter how weak I grow in my feet or in my hands. I may not be able to walk without my ankle – foot braces or be able to hold a pencil and to write legibly but God is always there. He has the strength to hold me up. He has ways for me to communicate that I can only image. He has the wherewithal to meet every need I could ever have.

As doctors learn more about the disease, they have begun to acknowledge within some families the disease also impacts the phrenic nerve which controls the diaphragm muscle. So, it is with me. As my diaphragm muscle becomes weaker with time, so my ability to breathe well is waning. And now, I am beginning to see the sufficiency of God in the very breath that I breathe.

Since I was already a Christian when I began to appreciate these verses, my wrestling with God took on a different form. I did not wrestle about why me or why would a good God do such a thing or allow such a thing. God’s Sovereignty, His Plan for my life, I have always accepted. But I wrestle more about trusting His Sufficiency. God knew that in my prideful self, I would rather do things my way. I would rather trust in my ankle –foot braces to stand and walk or use a keyboard to communicate than to lean on God or to allow His Spirit to communicate through me. I would rather find a drug that would make everything right. I believe God gave me this disease for the sole purpose of reminding me of His All Sufficiency and my dependence on Him. Before I was born, God had already ordained every single day of my life. He knows exactly what I need and when I need it. In His Sufficiency, He has already provided for what I need. And I will trust him for my very next breath!

Dear Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that You are the Creator and that we are the created ones. You created each one of us in Your Image and yet we are all created as unique individuals. You have blessed each one of us with strengths, talents, and gifts to be used in the service of your Kingdom. Help us to see and accept Your Sovereignty in creation. Help us to see how You have ordained every day of our lives and at the right time have provided for every one of our needs. Help us to truly trust in your Sufficiency.

– Pat Curran