"Clueless in Colorado"
Many of you will remember the Tom Hanks movie - "Sleepless in Seattle". I am calling this blog post - "Clueless in Colorado". I am going to share a story with you - it is a true story. I hope it will be a story each of you can relate to in some way? But above all, it is a story that illustrates the Biblical truth - and one restated often by Henry Blackaby - that it is "God who is at work in you, both to will and to do for HIS pleasure. " Phil 2:13
First, a short background.
Just yesterday, I was reminded in the message of the morning, that ALL of us have a legacy - that which is past on to future generations based upon the life we live. And that legacy may be positive or negative. Dr. Richard Blackaby shared from God's word how the generations that followed King David were blessed MORE by the life that David led, than by the life that his heirs led.
We read in I Kings 15: 1 - 8, that "for David's sake", and "because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord"... God showed favor to the descendants of David. But then there is a BIG word in verse 5. -"except". "And David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite". oops !
We all have our own EXCEPT don't we?
My 'except' (different than King David's by the way), was during a ten year period of my life from 1975 - 1985. Now this was not a time when I 'shook my fist' at God, and refused to have anything to do with Him. No, in fact to most it probably seemed that I was 'right on track'. I was doing 'great things for God'. But deep within, God had been replaced on the throne of my life - with ME. I was 'the man'. I had 'made it', I was 'successful'. I was - even to some I suppose - doing great things for God. And I certainly thought so. But maybe even a bit like King David, I thought more of myself than I did of God, and to use a more current thought - "I believed my own press clippings". This led to choices and I "wandered away."
Then came the crash! In a matter of 'minutes' it seemed, I lost everything - Position, Marriage, Possessions, a future and even in the darkest moments - hope. But God in His faithfulness, brought me back to Himself through 'His Rivers' - People who reached out and loved me back into the family. And more important than anything, in the words of the old hymn - "He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming love". He loved me back to Himself. I have shared some of this journey before. And Praise be to God! God gives, and blessed be His name, He forgives.
For many years after, i viewed those ten years as 'mostly wasted', serving myself and my interests rather than His. I certainly grieved over the hurts that I caused, and I wanted to believe that 'nothing of value' to the kingdom happened during that time. No kingdom legacy building for sure!
But then THE STORY....
It was 23 yrs since the 'crash'. God had been moving in our lives in miraculous ways. We had moved from Colorado to Georgia and were dong our best to walk in daily obedience. We had made a significant shift in our mindset from asking God to join us in 'the great work we are doing for Him", to earnestly seeking to "join Him in the work He is doing".
I had just landed at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (that was before the new name). Taxing to the terminal I had turned my cell phone on and it rang.
"Hello, is this Mark Leavell?"
"Is this Dr. Mark Leavell?"
"Were you in Colorado Springs in 1981?"
"Well this is Bill Burnham" (I don't think that was his name, but I honestly have forgotten - the season of my life, remember?)
"You don't remember me do you?"
"Well let me tell you. My wife and I had been married for 27 years at the time. We were going through a divorce. We had been to numerous counselors to no avail. She had said 'that's it, no more - it's over.' I begged and pleaded with her to go one more time. We came to see you at the counseling center in Colorado Springs. Mark, the reason for my call today is to invite you to our 50th wedding anniversary."
And then I 'lost it'.
In that moment, the Lord said to me - "Mark, you thought those years were wasted. And from your perspective they might have been. But, it was I that was at work. I used you in the middle of your 'except', and in spite of yourself. And one more thing. I have not stopped working.
Lord, may it be said of me as of King David - "Mark did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and has not turned aside from anything I have commanded him all the days of his life, except in the 'wasted years'. And because of his life, and the work that I did through him, his children, grandchildren and those that were touched by his life, will be blessed by God Himself".