Waves_at_great_beach (Picture of Point Reyes, CA, near SF where we lived in the late 90’s – it illustrates Downshoredrift, which I’ll talk about later in the post)

It’s late and I can’t sleep.  I have a lot on my mind. Sure, I went to bed a few hours ago, excited about turning in early, but I keep spinning, thinking about all types of things. So, I prayed and prayed, and still my mind raced. I’ve got a lot going on, I think, and I keep trying to get a handle on life.  Sometimes, I find it hard to settle down.

I haven’t blogged much lately, and obviously have not gotten my message notes up from the last couple of weeks like I wanted to. I’ve been really busy and distracted, it seems, living in the tyranny of the urgent, so to speak. Blogging is a good practice, I feel, because it disciplines me to think through stuff, get my thoughts together, and hopefully, it provides an opportunity for feedback from my church on things we have been talking about.  So, hopefully the message notes will be up this week, but I’ve had life going on quite a bit.  Here are some things that have been going on the past week that has me up late tonight thinking:

LSU lost a miserable game to UCLA the other night and I am so upset I can’t sleep!!! No, I’m just kidding. I get over that stuff pretty quickly, otherwise, it is just plain idolatry. Since I mentioned their Final Four appearance last week several times, I thought I’d just acknowledge the bitter defeat so we could all move on.  And, congratulations to Florida, by the way.

The stuff with the International Mission Board of the SBC is really bothering me tonight. Marty Duren tells the story of a missionary couple that is being removed from the field because they were partnering with Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries to start a "baptistic" church instead of a "Baptist" church among an unreached people group of Muslims in West Africa. This REALLY upsets me and I am really grieved in my spirit. We really need to pray that God’s will be done and that all involved seek the glory of Jesus rather than small personal doctrines. I don’t know the whole story, but from what I read, it is the natural outgrowth of all of the stuff that we have been worried about with the IMB.

There is something coming up tomorrow that I have a lot of apprehension about and I am trying to release it to the Lord. I can’t say what it is right now, but my faith is being stretched and I am having to learn to trust God when I have no control whatsoever.  All I can do is look to Him.

We had a big outreach yesterday afternoon at our church around an Easter Egg hunt. We provided an opportunity for folks in the community to bring their kids out and join with us. We are trying to be a real hub for our community through our big events and relations with our neighborhood associations. All four of the associations around our church meet in our facilities, so our prayer of being good neighbors is being answered.

I had a meeting this morning with some folks who are wanting to create a foundation to help fund Isaiah 58 type ministries among the poor and oppressed of the world. We made a decision today to give a portion of the money from the fund to help Native Americans in South Louisiana who were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We are trying to get building supplies for them this week. The genesis of a ministry is forming and I am excited about it as I see God bringing things together that I have been praying about for several years.

Being the father of four and the husband of one is an incredible blessing but also a challenge. I do the best I can, but the work is never done. I have found that I am tired a lot lately and I make a lot of mistakes.  I am rarely the man that I want to be, and my ability to sacrificially love my wife and children seems to be constantly challenged by my own selfishness.  I find, more and more, that I am a flawed man in desperate need of God’s grace.  As a pastor, this is something that I know theologically, but there is nothing like daily life full of children, responsibilities, and expectations to truly show you your inadequacies and your desperate need for God’s grace and love.

Which leads me to what was filling my mind most when I was trying to sleep the last couple of hours.  With family, ministry, ideas, issues, and responsibilities upon me all the time, I was laying in bed praying about how my greatest need is to have intimacy with God, my Father.  At all times, I so desperately need to be with Him, hear His voice, and allow Him to heal me and guide me. I need His grace, mercy, and truth.  I need to see Jesus, and through Him see the Father.  I need the infilling and guiding of the Holy Spirit – not just to get stuff done, but to live and breathe.  God is dealing with me about my intimacy with Him and whether or not He is truly my source and satisfaction, or if I draw my strength and identity from other things.  Too often, it is the latter.  May God be my all in all, and may everything else melt before Him. Jesus, touch my heart.

This blog is called Downshore Drift, because that is the phenomenon that occurs when you are at the beach and you are in the water and you think that you are in one place, but in reality the water has moved you further down. The waves hit the shore straight, but come off diagonally, creating a flow of water down the shore.  That is how God is in our lives.  All of the daily struggles and triumphs, tragedies and joys, in ways great and small, reveal God in our lives.  He is at work at all times, even if we do not see it or discern it.  All of the events of the past week and the things coming up tomorrow are being used by the Lord to cause me to lose my taste for this life and to hunger and thirst for Something Beyond.  I hunger and thirst for Jesus.  He is working in my life through the good things and the bad, to move me down the shore of life, closer to Him, where He is all that is in focus.  I sense a deep need for the Lord here in the middle of the night and I am not ashamed to say that I am happy that Jesus is my Savior.  He accepts me when no one else will and He has all I need.  Tomorrow is in His hands.  I place my family in your hands Lord.  I give our future to you.  You are not surprised.

4 Responses to Downshoredrift

  1. I will pray for you and your family this morning, Alan. Thank you not only for being our pastor, but for sharing your thoughts so openly and honestly with us in this blog.

  2. Alan,
    Praise God for how transparent and open you are with us, many times there are pastors that put up shields and “false” selves to show their flocks, but you encourage me by showing me that you have struggles like the rest of us and yet through all of it, you can still point yourself and all of us back to Jesus — the one who holds all things together.

  3. Alan,
    God has determined the exact places and times we live in, the very places we, and our children, will grow up in, and what all will happen to us there….He does this so that we will perhaps grope around and reach out and find him, even though He is not far from each one of us.
    In Him we live and move and have our being.
    The rolling waves push us further and further out it sometimes seems…but really we are moving further from the temporal and closer to the eternal.
    Grace and peace.