Andy Hollifield 4-20-17
Genesis 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. (19) And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that place was called Luz at the first.
Genesis 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. (7) And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him when he fled from the face of his brother.
Psalms 145:20 The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
Preserve—————-1) to keep alive or in existence; make lasting 2) to keep safe from harm or injury; protect or spare. 3) to keep up; maintain 4) to keep posession of; retain
I wrote recently on the Lord preserving his saints. I am not planning on repeating that but I do want to talk about the Lord preserving one of his saints; me. Somewhere during the message by Preacher Tommy Crowe, who visited State Street Baptist, he made a comment about that hard time way back yonder when God had kept you from kicking out and quitting. It was a general comment to everyone just trying to get us to realize how good God had been at keeping us and then blessing us again after us having wanted to quit. It was at this point in the message that God brought something back to my mind. It was five years ago this month that I sat down at the back of my metal building just sobbing, and praying, angry, confused, broken, and in a state of mind I had never been before and will hopefully never be again. I was in a place where I didn’t care about my family, my ministry, my home, my life, or if I ever preached again and to be quite honest; I didn’t really want to and didn’t know how I ever could. I was in a place where I didn’t want to be alone but I didn’t want no one around me. The mood swings were quick and extreme and cycled continually. The only thing that kept me from ruining my life and destroying my name and my ministry was that I had asked God, shortly after I started preaching, to take my life if I ever was about to bring a reproach on him. At the time I prayed that, I had seen men like Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart make mistakes and commit sin that ruined their ministry and brought a reproach on the Lord and their family. I told the Lord that I would rather die than have that happen and finish wrong after trying so hard to live right and keep a good name. After testifying at church about the dark place I had recently been in, a lady with good intentions told me she knew exactly how that was. Needless to say, it felt good to have someone that understood without ridiculing. But then she made another statement that let me know that she was clueless about where I had been. She said “it’s just a trust issue”. I knew by that she hadn’t ever experienced what I had been through.
Not wanting to sound like I am whining because I know that God has worked everything in my life to my benefit, but it is impossible to see all that God is doing in your life when you are struggling every day to live it. I spent my days waiting for them to end and my nights wondering if they ever would. You wish for the day and when it gets there, night can’t come soon enough. Day in and day out it never changes. You put on the smiles when you have to but inside you are a wreck. I had 10 months earlier had a hip replacement that was botched by the doctor and failed and he had drug around and not fixed it until I had ran out of insurance on me and my family. Not being able to get it fixed at that point, I was unable to return to my job and had the date at which I would be terminated if I was not back at work. I had applied for disability and it was not yet approved and my longterm disability from my job was scheduled to run out in just 8 more months. I was having to pay full price for medicine because I now had no insurance. My wife was only part time at work and was scheduled to be out of work in only two months when school went on summer break. That meant what income we had would be cut in half and it was already far less than I had made working. I sat there that day in my lawn chair, resigning myself to the fact that I would soon lose everything I had spent my whole life working for and starting over with no job and no money at 46 years old. It truly was a desperate time.
The Lord had not forgotten me even though I felt at times like he had. I had a friend of the family call me and ask me to meet him at Bojangles one day. I didn’t really have the gas to go but I was afraid he might need to talk about something so I agreed to meet with him. We had breakfast together, which he had told me he was buying since he had invited me. As we were fixing to leave, he reached over and slipped some money into my pocket and told me that he and his wife had been praying and the Lord told them I needed some help. This man did this every month for several months until after my disability had gotten approved and I told him we were fine. This was a great blessing that helped buy mine and my wife’s medicine. I had a church call me and wanted to make a mortgage payment for me as well as a friend’s mother. My mom had just maxed out her credit card keeping my mortgage paid the very month I wound up getting approved. We even spent about 3 months with no income after my long-term disability from work had maxed out. There were numerous things that happened that can only be explained as God’s preserving of his saints.
The reason I am writing all of this is because a shed I was getting built was recently completed. It’s not much of a shed. It’s out of square and the roof is scrap metal and currently leaks at the seams. Sunday afternoon, I took a small hammock, that my wife had given me years ago, and tied it between the two back-end post of that building. I laid out there in that hammock just enjoying the warm sun and looking off down at the pasture. In the spot where I had sat and read my bible and prayed countless times. Right where, just five years almost to the day earlier, I had resigned myself to losing everything. Right in the place where I had all but given up. Oh, it was no trust issue at all in those dark times. God was the only thing I had to trust in at that point. My body had failed me. My finances had failed me. My employer had failed me. My insurance had failed me. Everything that I had worked so hard to acquire had failed me. And now, five years later, in the same spot, I had laid there Sunday afternoon enjoying his goodness on the very same piece of ground where I had wanted to quit and give up and was sure I had lost. Five years later, God had brought me back to my Bethel! The place where in desperation I prepared to lose everything, God brought me back in five years having lost nothing but having gained so much more! Oh, the job and insurance and benefits I had worked for were gone but the proof that his grace is still sufficient was all around me. Proof that he indeed does “daily loadeth us with benefits” (Psalms 68: 19).
In closing let me say that he truly is “a very present help in time of trouble”(Psalms 46:1). I figure that God brought all of this to my mind tonight on Wednesday so it could encourage somebody. You may be in that dark place but let me tell you, don’t kick out because it may be your Bethel. God may bring you right back to it in a few years after having brought great deliverance and having wrought unforseen miracles in your life. Your place of fear and desperation and defeat may become your place of peace and jubilation and victory. God hasn’t forgotten where you are, just give it all back to him and trust him with it. Even if it don’t work out, it will be because he has something better in the works for you. All of your suffering and heartache will be for nothing if you quit now. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!