| As many of you know, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love fresh starts!! It offers us the perfect opportunity to take a look back at where we have been and set our course for what we want to become. It is a time of resolutions, work out plans, diets and a whole lot of empty promises that usually last until day two of our meticulously thought out plan. Do you ever wonder why that is? Why is it so easy to have a desire to start over and begin new things, but it is sooooo difficult to implement them? I mean think about it…you make all these resolutions to lose weight and eat right in 2015, but by lunch your ripping up pieces of “hog-jaw”, black-eyed peas and fried potatoes with a side of cobbler and ice cream all under the “safety net” of we have to make sure we can be successful in the new year. Now what I am about to say make shock a lot of you but “hog-jaw” has nothing to do with a successful year or not. You know what does….GOD!
Now let me digress for just a moment: I too make resolutions about my diet, my exercise, my allotment, of time–you know the usual stuff like,”this year I plan on running a marathon, learning how to play the guitar, climb Mount Everest and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese with that Rosetta Stone program you see on those late night infomercials”. However this year I thought I would include God more in my allotment of resolutions. I took the time on New Year’s Eve to just sit in the dark and close my eyes and get down on my knees and just talk to God. I took a little extra time to thank Him for all of my blessings that I had received in the past year; my family, the church, His love, mercy and grace. But when it came down to the point of asking for His help in making my resolutions stick for the New Year, I did something I haven’t tried before. Instead of asking for what I wanted to change in my life for the better, I asked Him what He wanted me to change. Now what I received was not some earth shattering voice from God out of Heaven like Saul on the way to Damascus or an enlightening vison like Peter to go to Cornelius, but it His voice to me was loud and clear. He put me in the hospital! Now this was not what I had expected nor what I wanted but I believe that He knew this is what I needed. For years I know that people have often teased preachers like myself that we only have to work a few hours a week. Now I do know that it is all in good fun, but I do take my job very seriously! I consider it an honor and a huge responsibility to ensure that the church is fed the proper spiritual meat from the classroom and the pulpit to help them grow. I feel indebted to those who have placed their trust within me to help minister to them and meet their spiritual needs. It is a very serious job to minister to the brethren. But, I cannot minister to anyone, if I do not learn how to be ministered to. So as I woke up on New Year’s Day , the Lord showed me how to begin my journey for the new me in 2015. Little did I know it would include words like Albuterol, Solumedrol and Respiratory Therapist, but I got the message loud and clear. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount…
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”Matthew 7:3-5
This down time of sickness has caused me to realize that for almost 3 weeks I have been absolutely no help to anyone. I miss being at work, I miss our visits, I miss my classes, I missed ministry. Why? Was my question to God, why was I not able to do those things I loved? The answer because I had a log in my eye of self, a log that everyone could see but me – a log that prevented me from doing my job to the best of my ability. That log was self-sufficiency which if you did not know is defined as “the quality or state of being self-reliant” or “independent”. I have been relying on myself too much and for that I need to repent. I have not trusted in the true concept of the body of Christ as Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 illustrates. I have not allowed the feet, the hands, the mouth the ear of the body to work properly, because I have not lived the example of being those parts. I sought to be the head. I took on a responsibility that was not mine to take on, and God was forcing me to see what He wanted from me, DEPENDENDCE! Dependence on Him, His Plan, His Church, His methods, His goals. I have been humbled and rebuked, but at the same time renewed and refreshed. How do I know this? My reading for January 1, 2015 included this text:
“then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” -Genesis 2:7
God was telling me without Him I could not even breathe! Now you tell me that wasn’t the work of the Holy Spirit as I read that passage with the fog of the nebulizer I was using was glazing over my glasses.
So as I “BREATHE in the NEW YEAR” from room 682 in ECM Hospital. (Yes, I did think that was clever), I want to resolve to God, my lovely wife and children, my family, my elders, my co-workers, my friends, my school and my brethren; that I Matt Heupel will take better care of myself! I resolve to get the rest I need to be able to meet the needs of those that have them. I resolve to put the emphasis on what God wants for me and not what I want from God. I resolve to spend more quality time with my wife and children. I resolve to try to not always be in a rush. I resolve to not bite off more than I can chew and I resolve to do a better job at trusting, depending and delegating to others to help me in my ministry. This will not be easy and I will have setbacks, but I did say I wanted to run a marathon (maybe we can start with a few 5ks). In doing this, with God’s help, who knows I may just climb my Mount Everest!