“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Back in 2012-2013 I worked with our denomination to do some assessment work at churches that were looking to revitalize their church and ministries. It was work I did in my spare time as I was pastoring a local church. I would come in for a one day / all day visit to get a grand overview of all of their church ministries, buildings, staff, committees, volunteers, history, neighborhoods and more. After that day’s work I would spend another week or so researching a variety of online resources to write a report that gave the church an objective, outsider view of what they needed to consider and then act upon to continue to be the Lord’s church for their community. To save time and money, the denomination would often send me to consult with two different churches on two consecutive days. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it. I met some great people and was excited to see what God had already done and was going to do in their midst.
One time I was sent to San Diego to meet with two different churches on two consecutive days. The first church on the first day went great. There was a lot of information gathered and after a long day I settled into my motel to get some rest to visit another church on the next day. But when I woke up and went to get into my vehicle, a Ford Ranger truck, it was gone. I stood at the place where I had parked the night before, did a double take, turned around 360 degrees and looked again, but it still wasn’t there. So yes, I went back to my room, went inside, closed the door, and then opened the door to walk outside a second time to the parking lot and my truck was still gone!
I had to drive about 25 miles that day to the other church and had no wheels. Not to mention that I was 175 miles from home. Long story short, I made a police report, and called the previous day’s church to see if they could give me a ride to the rental car office. They were very gracious and did just that. But when I went to rent the car, they would not accept my ATM/Debit card as payment for the vehicle. I was stuck. Being one who likes to be prepared and self-sufficient, I had already lowered myself and accepted a ride to the rental agency, and now, was stripped of any way to pay for my rental car. I was due across town in one hour. What was I going to do? Having no other option, I humbled myself and asked my new friend if he would charge the roughly $300 on his credit card so I could rent this car. Thank you Lord for your people!
But here is the truly surprising thing that the Holy Spirit did for me during these 24 hours of having virtually no ability to provide for myself what I so desperately wanted to provide … I didn’t have a care in the world, and I was totally at peace. In fact, I started laughing and almost uncontrollably, at that. Why? Because I had been stripped of all of my own defenses and provisions and had to totally rely on the Lord to provide for my immediate needs. And this is a real-life example of Galatians 2:20 mentioned above.
It was no longer I who was living my life, it was Christ who was living his life for me and in me. “Christ in me” is the Holy Spirit. The actual third person of the trinity inside my heart, my mind, my body, and definitely my emotions. I was living “by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So, the next time you find yourself at your wits’ end, consider it a great gift, from the Holy Spirit. Because then the Holy Spirit we know and live by can really take over, because you have lost your ability to take care of yourself. We have a loving and wonderful God who has given us his Holy Spirit to do much and so much more, when we acknowledge and live in the truth that we are no longer in control. But God is, in control, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
Oh, by the way, when giving the police report I was told that I would never see my truck again, and that it was probably already in Mexico picking up vegetables in a field somewhere. To show how good God is, I got a call two weeks later from the police saying they had found my truck in San Diego, and that with a new radio, dash, and ignition, provided by my insurance, it would be perfectly fine. I am still driving that Ford Ranger to this day eight years later. Praise the Lord.