In Neutral

There is always that thrill of excitement–come this time of the year–when talk of preparing for the AThe fort which needed heldTI Regional Conferences actually becomes reality. Everyone at Headquarters is involved in the preparation work, but only a few are able to minister at the actual locations. As the weeks and days before the Big Sandy Conference passed quickly by, it became apparent that I would not be among those attending. Instead, I was reserved to help hold the fort back at Headquarters. Of course, this was slightly disappointing.

We all face disappointing circumstances. When our hopes are bashed, regardless of the degree, our natural response is to Everyone faces disapointing circumstancesdwell on the good we will miss and the normality with which it will be replaced. The problem is, this response is very selfish; the focus is on our own comfort and happiness. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, but the new man, Christ dwelling in us, sees the perspective of God. Instead of focusing on self, true contentment comes when we focus on what God is doing in a given situation.

To accomplish this perspective, it is very helpful to list out the benefits of  the situation. IShed some light on the problem did this in my situation. It was quite surprising to see how many benefits there were for not going to Big Sandy! Not only were there many projects that I could work on which I wouldn’t otherwise be able to, but there was the fellowship of those who were staying behind and the time of rest and catching up. Listing the benefits brought contentment, and I was actually looking forward to holding the fort.

But then came Wednesday morning. Three days before the van would pull out for Texas, plans for a massive portraiture project in Big Sandy was launched. Nikki, the photographer, needed an assistant and I happened to be the first choice. Within a few minutes, it became apparent that I was needed to go after all. Details were discussed that night, estimates drawn up the next day, and the proposal was ready to be brought to Mr. Gothard by Friday morning.

But there was a check in my spirit. I have been training a graphic artist for the past several months; Anna is a hard worker and enjoys photography. I knew she wanted toThe road to success: helping others go to Big Sandy as much as myself. The question hit me: “Why don’t you ask if she could go instead of you?” At first I didn’t like the thought. “Hadn’t God rewarded my efforts to gain His perspective?” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the right thing to do. Plus, I  couldn’t keep last year’s events out of my mind: I was previously in Anna’s position when Britton, the graphic artist I was training under at the time, willingly let me go to Big Sandy as the photojournalist in his place. Now I was in Britton’s position. I had to reevaluate my motives, list the benefits, and die to myself . . . again.

There's more than one way to look at thingsThis is what you call a double death of a vision. I decided that instead of mentioning Anna as an option, I would make her a recommendation.  Once I decided that, I had true contentment again. I was back in neutral. I was ready to go and I was ready to stay back; I was ready for whatever Mr. Gothard’s decision was. In fact, I actually looked forward to letting Anna take my place.

Well, to make a long story short, I talked with Mr. Gothard in the morning about the whole thing. To my great surprise, he emphatically stated that he wanted me to go, despite my recommendation. By noon, on Friday, I was set to go to Big Sandy.

I honestly don’t know why God made it work out this way. One of many buildings on the ALERT campus It would be a perfect ending if Anna was the one going. I really wish she could have come. But this one thing I know: contentment comes only after I’ve listed the benefits of both sides and have truly shifted to neutral. Ministry in Big Sandy is secondary to the joy of knowing I am in God’s will!


  1. Michael April 28, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    I praise the Lord to hear of your self control. It takes self control (temperance) to do what you did. Isn’t it amazing how dying to yourself leads to the greatest happiness? Satan’s lie is that dying to self will lead to the greatest sadness. There is no conflict between choosing God and choosing happiness – it’s just that happiness does not come the way we expect. “He that loseth his life for My sake, the same shall save it”.

  2. Matthew Wilkes April 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Thought provoking testimony! I appreciate the quickness to obey God’s direction. It motivates me to conduct myself with greater sensitivity – anticipating God’s direction.

  3. Dad and Mom April 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    A perfect conclusion: “Ministry in Big Sandy is secondary to the joy of knowing I am in God’s will!”
    A very creative selection of pictures.

  4. Donald April 30, 2009 at 2:28 am #

    Wow! And those pictures.

  5. Jenny Wilkes May 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    God delights when we willingly trust Him and rest in His will! What joy and peace it brings too. Thank you for sharing this James.

    P.S. How was the Conference?

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