Dear IARBC family,
Sandy & I are comfortably sitting in our camper on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. It has rained throughout the night. There is a small craft advisory out for the lake that kicks in when the wind speed exceeds 25 knots and the swells reach 3 to 5 feet. The lake is rough today, but we are safe and sound far above the crashing waves below.
For the past several years, we have been able to enjoy a nice fall trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior. We had been planning to take our current week-long trip for the past year, but little did we know how much we would need this break. August through September is always a busier than usual time of ministry for us, but this year has stretched us further. God has given us incredible opportunities to serve Him. Many of them were planned, and some were not on our radar. We have been in several churches to fill the pulpit, teach the John Studies, and to encourage these church families in any way we can. The IARBC Men’s Retreat and Women’s Renew Conference were well-attended and well-received. Our other ministries have included speaking at an installation service, attending a send-off for a new missionary couple, doing several Pulpit Committee Workshops, meeting with our State Youth Committee, meeting with a young man and a couple who are ready to pursue pastoral ministry, meeting with our IARBC Council of 10, attending an area pastors’ fellowship meeting, having lunch with an attorney friend (a member of one of our churches who makes himself available to our churches), touching base with a non-IARBC church that I have been working with who recently called a pastor, participating in the FBBC Fall Board Meetings , and participating in many Homecoming events. In addition to these, Sandy has been serving as the Interim Dean of Women (and loving the opportunities to disciple these students).
It has been, at times, a little overwhelming, but God has given us strength and joy in what we have been doing. He has always been our Rock when life and ministry has been overwhelming. And, in His providence, He reminded us of that with this devotional on the eve of our trip up north. Though these thoughts were penned well over 100 years ago by Charles Spurgeon through his Morning & Evening series, they were a blessing to us:
When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart; emptied as when a man wipeth a dish and turneth it upside down; submerged and thrown on our beam ends like a vessel mastered by the storm. Discoveries of inward corruption will do this, if the Lord permits the great deep of our depravity to become troubled and cast up mire and dirt. Disappointments and heart-breaks will do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like a broken shell hurled to and fro by the surf. Blessed be God, at such seasons we are not without an all-sufficient solace, our God is the harbour of weather-beaten sails, the hospice of forlorn pilgrims. Higher than we are is He, His mercy higher than our sins, His love higher than our thoughts. It is pitiful to see men putting their trust in something lower than themselves; but our confidence is fixed upon an exceeding high and glorious Lord. A Rock He is since He changes not, and a high Rock, because the tempests which overwhelm us roll far beneath at His feet; He is not disturbed by them, but rules them at His will. If we get under the shelter of this lofty Rock we may defy the hurricane; all is calm under the lee of that towering cliff. Alas! such is the confusion in which the troubled mind is often cast, that we need piloting to this divine shelter. Hence the prayer of the text. O Lord, our God, by Thy Holy Spirit, teach us the way of faith, lead us into Thy rest. The wind blows us out to sea, the helm answers not to our puny hand; Thou, Thou alone canst steer us over the bar between yon sunken rocks, safe into the fair haven. How dependent we are upon Thee-we need Thee to bring us to Thee. To be wisely directed and steered into safety and peace is Thy gift, and Thine alone. This night be pleased to deal well with Thy servants.”
My thoughts as I read this last Friday were directed to our campsite for the week. We would be there the next evening, and we had been there before. We love that spot. Overlooking the lake on a high rock bluff, safe from the waves below, and a great reminder of the truth in this verse. I always stand amazed at how God speaks to us through His Word in ways that we can relate to, and in ways that meet the need of the hour.
Overwhelmed? Read, meditate, treasure, and apply this verse today. God is our Rock that is higher than us.
We are glad for what God has been doing, and we are glad for a break to spend some time together in a place that is special to us.
Talk with you soon.
From the North Shore of Lake Superior,
Tim & Sandy
“Because of your partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5)