Deuteronomy 16:13-17 – In a Moment of Doubt, We Must Remember What God Has Already Done

Posted: February 12, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
Tags: , ,

Deuteronomy 16:13-17

The Festival of Shelters

As many of you know, it is the burden that God has laid on my heart to be in full-time ministry. Right now, I am partially there as I am on staff part-time at my church. Recently, I went through the interview process, a long and drawn out one at that, for an administrative pastor’s position at a church in Ohio. I got as far in the process as being flown in with my spouse for a weekend of interviews. By this fact alone, I assumed that we were going to get the job. The interview process went well. We really liked the church and the people. It all seemed like a good fit. We had prayed about it and talked about it a lot over the past week and we were ready to go if the offer came. We really were going to miss Upstate South Carolina (it is home to us) but we were ready for the new challenges that lie ahead in a different part of the country. We had lived further away before, for a time, out in California so it was not completely out of this world to us to have to move to a different region of the country. So, we were ready.


However, this past Friday, we learned that I did not get the job or rather that we did not get the job. In the world of church, you are a ministry couple. You and your wife are a ministry team. My wife was interviewed as much as I was during our visit to Ohio. So, it was a blow to both of us. The inevitable self-doubts come in when you get rejected for a job. We have been processing those feeling all weekend. What does it all mean? Why did we not get the job? We demonstrated that we had a willingness to follow God’s call wherever that might lead us. Sure, we would have preferred that God would lead us to some tropical climate like San Juan, PR but we were ready to move into the colder climes of northern Ohio. What was it that turned them off? Was it our honesty about our respective past lives? Was it that I had written in my spiritual journey essay (which was part of the application process) that one of my long-range goals was to be a teaching pastor or a professor? Was it that they did not think that this was a destination job for me? Was it that I was a not a career preacher but a second career one? Was it that I was not part of the clique of pastors who have that shared experience? Was it that I was not good enough? You question yourself and it brings in self-doubt as to whether you are just kidding yourself with this desire to be in full-time ministry. You question yourself as if you are an outsider looking in? You question yourself as to whether you’ve wasting your time following foolish dream – and was it really a call from God? Those are things that I have been, and my wife has been, dealing with this weekend. We are in our mid-fifties, Lord! When is the call going to come? The window of productive time to serve the Lord in full-time ministry is getting smaller by the day. When, Lord, when? Those were the questions of the weekend so far. Self-doubt. Examining what could possibly have gone wrong. Was it us and something we said? Was it a reference? Was it that they just didn’t think we had what it took? It is easy then with this self-doubt to convince yourself to give up on the whole thing – serving the Lord even in our current capacities. We are tired and wounded from the journey of the past eight years (from Livermore Alive to LifeSong Church) where we have served and served and served and gave and gave and gave.


This morning, I wake up on a Sunday morning and it is time to go to church in what has been our church home for 6 ½ years now. Even though we have had our egos bruised a bit by the Ohio rejection, we have a home at LifeSong. It is our church. We are invested there. And, today, is Sunday. It is time to go to the Sunday morning celebration. It is that idea of celebrating God even when your heart hurts is what I thought of this morning as I read Deuteronomy 16:13-17. Let’s read it now together:


13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.


16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.


Three times a year every male was to make a journey to the sanctuary in the city that would be designated as Israel’s religious capital. At these festivals, each participant was encouraged to give to God in proportion to what God had given him. It was to be a celebration time for the blessing of the Lord. I am sure that there were times when times were hard that it may have been difficult for the Israelites for find reason for celebration but they were obedient and did it anyway. They would to view it from a lifetime perspective at times. In the difficult times, we have to remember what all God has done for throughout our lives and that He will deliver us from the hard times. We must celebrate the sovereignty of God.


For me, that is what I must remember this Sunday morning after a weekend of self-doubt after a rejection is that I am a mightily blessed man. We have been blessed with my job at Fujikura that has allowed us to be generous people. I am a blessed man who has been blessed with a wonderful wife that gives me wise counsel and who takes care of me and spoils me rotten. I am blessed man in that my wife and I have matured greatly in Christ over these past 6 ½ years at the church we call home and under the leadership of our elders/pastors. We have been a part of the church’s impacting other people’s lives. We have been blessed by all the people that have passed through our small group in the past five years that have gone on to lead life groups themselves. We have been blessed by the friendships that we have developed over the past 6 ½ years. The Lord has delivered us through several crises at Fujikura and set me on that high, dry ground each time. Even though I have a past before Christ that I am not proud of, I am seem at work as a Christ follower and as a man of principle. These are blessings that I must celebrate this morning. Just look how far the Lord has taken Elena and I since that day we first met in Rock Hill, SC back in 2007. From Rock Hill, SC to Livermore, CA to Duncan-Lyman, SC, the things that God has providentially done in our lives is what we go to church and celebrate this morning.


When you look back at what God has done in our lives and what He has led us through and led us to so far, we must trust Him now with the fact that Ohio was not the right place. We must trust that He had a purpose in that three month process. We must trust that it was just not the right door for us at this moment. We must trust that there is a door that He will lead us to that is the right door at the right time and in the right place. We must continue to plow the field that we are plowing right now. There is still much to do at LifeSong and much to do in pursuing my doctoral studies. There are dreams that He has not even revealed to us yet and we must trust that. He has brought us a mighty long way already. Why quit trusting Him now? Keep plowing the field in which you find yourself. Keep serving. Keep loving God. Keep trusting in Him. When you look back at all the things that He has brought us through together and individually, we must trust Him. That’s what we celebrate this morning and that’s what we will celebrate on Monday…on Tuesday…on Wednesday…on Thursday…on Friday….and on Saturday.


Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s