The long-distance call from a minister facing a problem in his church was different from most I’ve received.
Usually these contacts for counseling and requests for prayer by pastors have to do with problem-prone people in their congregations who are giving them trouble.
This honest preacher had concluded he was the problem.
“I’ve been watching what’s been happening in my church and see that I’m the reason for it,” he said, adding, “Pray that I will be revived.”
“You’re halfway there,” I said.
The moment we face up to our faults and start doing something about them, we’re on our way to greater effectiveness and better relationships with others.
This minister was determined to remove any roadblocks to spiritual awakening in his church by enlisting some long-distance praying for the needed breakthrough in his church to begin in him.
The world-known evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said he faced his worst enemy each morning while shaving.
Moody didn’t mean he hated his image in the mirror before him, but in confronting his weaknesses early and overcoming them before they spoiled his day, he increased his potential to make a difference in the lives of others and the world.
We’re still reaping the benefits of his early morning honesty and prayers.
A woman with whom I shared a dentist’s reception room told me about her former addiction to smoking. Her husband had urged her to quit many times but to no avail.
As we continued our conversation while waiting for the dentist, she described finally ending her bondage to nicotine. This new freedom was like a breath of fresh air and she was eager to talk about it.
“Stopping smoking was one of the easiest things I have ever done,” she said.
Why, then, had she been bound by this addiction for so long?
She had been unwilling to face her problem and pray for deliverance from it.
The power to stop smoking had been within her since the day she had come to faith, but had been untapped until she accessed it. Prayer made her freedom possible.
Several months had passed since I had seen a longtime friend. At our last meeting he had been overweight and having health problems. Now he appeared athletic, trim and healthy.
He was clearly on a different course in life and was enjoying it.
He had faced his problem and decided to fix it.
Early mornings now found him on long walks during which he spent time praying and reflecting on his relationship with God. While in the past he thought he didn’t have time to be away from his office, he discovered these active quiet times exercised his mind, body and soul; improving both his health and his productivity.
Facing personal problems can be frightening but without facing them, there’s no fixing them.
Here’s the good news: God loves us and cares about those pesky problems that plague us so we don’t have to face them alone. Consider this unconditional call: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.
Whatever our problems, his grace is sufficient for them all.
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.
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