Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Expressing Gratitude

From the outside, my friend Peter seemed to have it all together. He was a bright, gifted young man, who became a Christian during his college years. Immediately he began to study and grow, soon discovering he had an incredible gift for teaching. After graduation, Peter spent his first two post-college years in full time work for the Lord, teaching scripture and mentoring students at several local colleges and universities.

Yet as he progressed in his ministry, Peter began to be plagued with doubts. He may have been a dynamic teacher on the outside, but on the inside, he was a mass of conflict. So much of what he preached was coming back empty for him on an emotional level. He began to doubt about even the existence of God. Finally one evening, after much inner turmoil, he decided he could not live with the doubt any longer. He would abandon his faith for good.

A half-hour later, there was a knock on his door. A young college co-ed stood outside with tears in her eyes. As she entered, she explained that she had serious doubts about the existence of God. "I want to believe," she told Peter. "Please help me."

Peter stood in his doorway, uncertain of his response. He knew exactly what this girl was experiencing, since his own struggle had come to a head just that evening. He had already decided he himself could no longer live with the conflict. Yet at the same time, he knew what Jesus said about teachers who lead followers astray. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) Peter knew while he might no longer believe, he did not want to be responsible for another's spiritual demise.

So he sat down and shared with her from God's Word. They looked at the five hundred witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ. In Matthew they saw how over one hundred prophecies written eight hundred years before Christ's birth were fulfilled during His lifetime. Too much evidence was contained in Scripture itself to be denied. It just didn't make sense NOT to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

As Peter saw his young friend out the door, he knew he had just talked himself back into believing. By teaching the truths he already knew, those truths became even more compelling for him. There is a power that comes in verbally expressing our faith.

Paul tells the Ephesians that they should live lives yielded to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-21). What he suggests to foster this is to make verbal expressions of their faith: speaking to one another in psalms, singing hymns and spiritual songs, along with giving thanks for all things. There is something powerful about truth, that when shared aloud with others, it benefits the one speaking as well as the recipient.

Perhaps that is why Paul makes sure to mention giving thanks in many of his letters. We should be faithful to express thanksgiving aloud. And as the words come off our tongues, what they express becomes real to us in a new way. When we remind others about the faithfulness of God, we are encouraged ourselves and enabled to trust Him more fully.

This blog post is an excerpt from my weekly email devotional, The Dogwood Digest. To subscribe to this free newsletter, please use the link provided on the right hand margin of this page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a very inspiring story.
i once read a book which author named Rick Joyner and he also said in his book that The Holy Spirit can also talk and teach us while we are teaching and talking to other people. and this story give a kind of confirmation for me :))
thanks! GOD BLESS