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Make Today Great

Pastor Steve speaks on trusting God more when life doesn’t make sense.


[Music] On June 16 2016 my life plunged into pitch-black darkness when my oldest son chase died in a car accident the death of a child is like having a bright light suddenly extinguished in the middle of the night and not being able to see anything until your eyes adjust to the dark it it takes time as little by little you begin to make out shapes and textures the death of a loved one or the death of a relationship and even the death of our dreams all can send us to the edge of losing our faith it's like a sudden shift from light to dark and only very slowly does one begin to perceive what was once familiar maybe loss or death has invaded your life in a way you didn't anticipate and you're trying to navigate your pain or that of those around you I've been where you are when life disappoints us and when you feel God has disappointed you it's easy to lose hope I wrote walking in the dark to help process the many questions I faced you won't find in the pages of this book me glossing over hard questions we all share you will find a longtime Christian struggling with shrews I thought I knew about God about myself hoping to rediscover something solid to hold on - after my world came crashing down I've had to wrestle with God for myself for my family and even for my community but what I found is a God willing to listen to our cries and our questions and what I've come to believe is actually stronger and more sustained this book is not written from the place of pitch black that was my reality for many many minutes rather it chronicles my struggling my searching even my fighting to allow the light to slowly illuminate my path once again my hope is that you'll find a safe place to explore your questions and doubts or help a friend or family member do the same when life doesn't make sense and perhaps this book can act as a lamp for me it will not illuminate your entire path but it might help you take born everybody it's great to have you guys here today and I want to say hi to those who are watching online as well great to have you also with us well we're in this series finally finishing it up today called walking in the dark based on the book that I wrote and I don't know about you but I'm really happy that this is the last one we can get to move on to something else it's been a tough series for me personally as as we've talked about just my own journey over these last three years two weeks ago we talked about wrestling with God like getting in the ring with them and and go ahead and having it out with them and asking them some really hard questions and even demanding some answers and and how to do that and and then last week we looked at the reason I still trust God why I believe he's capable and that he's for me not against me and that that he's still faithful and then today I kind of want to wrap this series up by by talking about how our lives can make an impact and the difference in this world before I do that though I mentioned last week that the website for the book walking in the dark dot org has a trust assessment that a guy in our church and myself created to help you assess where you're at in your trust in God and it's a simple assessment that you can take in 15 minutes or less and it helps you to see where you're at when you think about do I do I actually trust that God's faithful still and and and so I was able to see the results not like personal results I can't see those but I can see like the group where we're at together and 75% of the people who took this took the assessment have it growing or a strong trust in God's ability to be with them and for them and that was really encouraging I was like oh that's great but then my media went to that 25% of people like me who you might be in a season that I was in where you are lacking trust and you're not sure if God is still with you and for you and for those of you that are here and like you're leaning in I just want to encourage you to keep leaning in don't give up keep showing up and seeing what God has for you and for those of us that are moving towards a stronger trust be on the lookout for people around you who are who are struggling and be an encouragement to them and so yeah so that's enough set on that let's dive in today and if you have a Bible I'm going to be unpacking 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 and you can follow along there but as you're turning there last last week was the third anniversary of chases death and so I got a text from chases best friend when they grew up together he's almost like a another son to me because he was always in our house and eating my food and and all that and he sent me a text it was really gracious text on that on the third anniversary of Chase's death and this is what he wrote Chase's legacy feels just as strong and important to me today as it did three years ago his impact on my life continues to make me a better person and that's what I want to talk about today I want to talk about the impact that our lives can make whether they last as my son's life lasted 21 years 4 months 23 days and 7 hours or if it lasts 95 plus years how can our lives make a difference and the truth is that our lives are still incomplete our stories are still being written and that should be encouraging to all of us that no matter where you're at our stories aren't finished yet well it's not God's not done writing the stories of our lives my favorite passage from a book that I highly recommend actually recommend this book more than my own book for people that are dealing with loss and grief is a guy by the name of Jerry sit sir and I mentioned it a lot in my book and it and and it was informative for me it was so helpful for me it's called a grace disguised and he wrote these words after losing his mom his wife and his in a car accident where he and his son survived he wrote these words I have this sense that the story God has begun to write he will finish that story will be good the accident remains now as it always has been a horrible experience that did great damage to us into so many others it was and will remain a very bad chapter but the whole of my life is becoming what appears to be a very good book so your story and my story can still be a really good book no matter what you've been through and all it can be a story of yes loss but also love it can be a story of Tears and a story of laughter it can be a story of sorrow yeah but also a story of praise but we have to fight for it it doesn't just come to us that's the story that that God wants to ride in our lives of victory and in perseverance and joy and laughter all of those things that we we so desire in this life they don't just happen it's things that we've got to fight for and today I want to look at a portion this portion in 2nd Corinthians 4 of Paul's letter to the church in Corinth and you're not going to like it I don't like it so I know you won't like it I don't like what he writes it makes it bothers me but in the end of the day I'm looking at this I'm like this there's something here that that we must look at we must let it reverberate in our brokenness because there's something of life to it and the reason why it's so important for us is that Paul when he wrote it wasn't like immune to suffering and heartache this man went through great tragedy he lost many of his friends he was persecuted he was often he was a stone almost to the point of death many times he was he was shipwrecked he's just his life didn't look anything like what the life that you and I probably dream of and yet he wrote some words that for those of us who have suffered we must pay attention to these words because they're not written a place of safety and security and everything's working out the way he wants it to it's written from a place of brokenness and uncertainty and and certainly questioning why God has allowed certain things so second Corinthians chapter 4 let's look at this together it'll be up on the screen verse 16 Paul writes these words so we do not lose heart says don't lose heart in the original language there it simply means don't grow weary anybody ever feel weary from life and the troubles and everything that happens the stuff that that just that overwhelms our souls and Paul is saying I get it because he writes right in the very next word as though our outer self is suffering is wasting away did you look in the mirror this morning that should have caused some bit of depression in your life anyway as it did mine but anyway that Paul saying he understands that this life is not easy he's not trying to minimize it he's saying in the midst of that though our outer self is wasting away don't lose hope don't grow weary don't lose heart even though our outer self is wasting away listen to this our inner self is being renewed day by day Paul experienced something that he recognized as renovating his soul renewing his soul day by day even in the midst of tragedy in the midst of heart a there was something going on that was renovating renewing his life internally and then this verse I hate this next verse I hate it with a passion you guys I just don't like it at all and you'll see why for this light momentary affliction who does he think he is to call my affliction light and momentary anybody with me on that my my affliction hasn't been light and it certainly doesn't feel momentary the loss of my son is gonna last me the rest of my life so what is Paul other than trying to irritate me trying to do what is he trying to say and why and who does he think he is to call it that now we're you have to remember where he's coming from why that this man understood suffering so it's not he I don't think he's saying that suffering is somehow light and momentary that if that he's looking at it look let's read the next one this light momentary affliction is preparing for us in the eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison so what he's saying is I've seen something I've experienced something of God's presence and glory that now when I look back from that place to the affliction that I am and have experienced it in comparison to that the glory and presence of God this affliction feels light and momentary and so if I'm if I'm reading this I'm thinking well what how do I experience this how do I experience the presence of God to the point that it works backward and helps me deal with and understand and wrestle with the light and momentary affliction and well he goes on to help us out with this as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen for the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal Paul understood that that there was the presence of God experiencing the presence of God actually sometimes is birthed out of the affliction that we experience the presence of God I I don't I don't like these I don't I don't I wish that I wish I didn't have to I wish there was another way to experience the depth of relationship and intimacy with Jesus then the suffering that I've endured but I've also but I've realized that it's that out of the suffering that I am and havin toward there is a sweetness to the presence and a depth to the presence of God in my life that maybe wasn't there prior Paul kind of unpacked us a little bit more in verse seven he says but we have this treasure what's this treasure that Paul's talking about the presence of God the power of the Holy Spirit in us in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us you know one of my deepest deepest prayers is that as I've stood before you these last three years in brokenness and then my suffering that you haven't seen just seen a man who's willing to be broken I hope that you've seen that in my weakness God is still strong I hope that you've seen I've hope that you've seen that that that in my weakness he has the power to sustain me and strengthen me and it helped me to have endurance and to persevere in the midst of my pain and that's what I hope that you see and that's what Paul's saying here is compared to I mean the surpassing greatness of the presence of God works backward to helps me see my affliction from a different point of view and after chase died I was uh I was tempted to take all my family and loved ones into a bunker and make sure nothing bad ever happened to them again I told him I said let's just go I'll get some food I'll bring you some girls for you to meet even guys so don't worry you're not gonna be alone but I just I just don't want anything bad to happen to anybody that I love anymore and so I did I wanted to kind of go into survival mode and that's what happens when the lights go out you just it's so easy to become a survivalist and just think this is all there is I just got to try to control everything I got to try to make sure nobody in my family's in danger ever listen there's a better way to live there's a better way to breathe every day I am reminded that my story in your story were written before we were even born and they're still being written the psalmist writes you saw me before I was born God every day of my life was recorded in your book every moment was laid out before a single day had passed every day I'm reminded that life is momentary and it is transient and that this isn't all there is we don't know how many days or months or years we might have so show me O Lord my life sinned and the number of my days Lord remind me how brief my time on earth will be remind me that my days are numbered how fleeting my life is why why would we pray pray such a prayer so that I would be reminded to live every moment to this fullest to invest in my relationships to foster love and care and concern from my neighbor to make sure that this moment matters because it does every day I'm reminded to really live see there's a renewal happening in my soul there's a renovation there's a recovery and there's a restoration taking place and and some of it has been birthed from a a belief that my life is fragile and short and I don't know how long I have or those around me have I know this sounds so depressing but it's not for me it's because I look at life differently I see it from a different point of view a different lens now and every moment matters every conversation matters unless I don't understand everything that happens I've stopped trying to understand why my some go through great hardship and others who actually think should go through great hardship don't confession anyway it's like what's that about god I don't understand that this whole idea of he you know his justice is on the good and the bad I get that anyway I don't understand all of that but how we how you and I and how I live in this moment is all we have in our hands we can live without hope without heart with despair and I know there are moments where we that's just our reality we can live in a cesspool of cynicism and unanswerable questions about God and society and why and all of those things but in doing that we stop seeing and enjoying the beauty of the good things all around us and the relationships that God has given us after chase died Suzanne decided to go the other way rather than living in a bunker with me she decided to do something other than that to lean into this like let's this is my moment this is the moment this is the only moment I have and so what she did to remind herself to be present in everyday moments of life in the conversations with our kids and the in the interactions with her coworkers and in etc all of the things she she decided to get tattooed on her left arm and by the way if you're uncomfortable tattoos just wait a few more minutes it's gonna get more uncomfortable for you but anyway she got tattooed on her arm the words be present and several times a day I'll see my wife she won't say anything she'll just reach over and put her hand on her forearm to remind herself that this moment matters to be present fully awake fully alive to this moment Thomas Kelly called it the eternal now that this moment has ripples into eternity for the church fathers there were two days this day a gift that was given and that day the day that we get to see Jesus Christ face to face to live every moment as if it matters because it does a year after Chase died those of you that know the story remember this that my nephew my 21 year old nephew Adam just one year later died in a car accident here in Bend it was like a gut punch to us it was took the two again took the air out of out of our life and and in and as an Adam his life is having ripples in my life he is one of the most generous and loving young men that I ever had the privilege of knowing he would never leave my house without without first giving me a long hug when I say long you know what it turns to kind of being uncomfortable hug that kind of a hug is like oh we're still doing this okay thank you and and and I loved it I loved that I loved it and and and then II would it would never leave my house without one of those long hugs and then telling me and telling everyone that was in the room I love you I love you uncle Steve I still hear his voice echoing in my head before Adam died he had written something on a whiteboard and put it up right in front of his bed so his first thing that he saw when he when he woke up in the morning the last thing that he saw when he went to bed was this was this whiteboard in here here's a picture of it make today great I don't I don't want to be morbid at all but make today great this is the day this is the day you have for sure you have this moment in the next moment make it great to really live to be present to truly love deeply even if it means you might lose deeply to risk that there's only one way for me to live in this life now and it's not hedging my bets and moving into the bunker and trying to protect the people that I love it's loving fully and deeply those around me to embrace this day it's to make every moment matter tell somebody next to you make today great I want to ask you to do something this week and it'll be easy this one's easy but it's funny how we'd never do it when my father passed away last year I we were all sitting around talking about how amazing he was and people were telling us how incredible the incredible influence he had on their lives and it got me thinking about how we talked about people after they're gone and it's like really amazing you know and I thought why why don't we do that when they're alive why don't we tell the people that we love how much they mean to us and why they're important to us and and tell them you know out loud like and so I started from that moment on I made it a practice that anytime a thought comes into my mind about how I feel towards someone I will text them I will tell them I will call them whatever the context is and I will make sure that I don't lose that moment because this is the moment we have so I want to encourage you this week I want you to intentionally think about the people around you the people that are closest to you and make sure you tell them this week what they mean to you and why why you love them get specific as specific as you can make it uncomfortable make it so they start to go like like nobody's ever said this about me I know right we've never never tell each other these things take the moment take the opportunity be fully awake to the relationships that God's given you especially this summer let this summer be one of those summers were man you you express your heart towards those that that you love well I want to finish up by going back to the swords if you haven't been here though this series you know that I you you wouldn't know that I'm a Lord of the Rings fan now you do these are the swords that hang in my living room and there's a reason why they hang there because my sons when they were 12 each of them was 12 years old I'd taken them up the south sister mountain here and it was we called it a trek to manhood and for those for those dads if you I mean just hike the South sister if you have something you really want to tell them your kids because they they don't have anywhere to go they have to listen to you anyways little tip and so we hiked up the mountain and then came back down I talked to them about integrity how to treat others how to treat women etc and and then when we got back down I did this sword ceremony and I gave them these the each of them one of these swords when they turn 12 it was an epic moment in my living room I mean it's we watched this clip from the kingdom of heaven it's rated R movie and they're not allowed to watch rated R movies when they were 12 so it's a big deal that I was letting them watch this one clip and and so they watch this then they get on their knees and and then I give them each of each of them a sword oh by the way just so you guys all know I'm not gonna continue to use Lord of the Rings illustrations forever I don't want to be known as the Lord of the Rings pastor it's not a bad thing to be known for but I know I've used it in the last three s series so three messages this sword right here is his mine the boys and Suzanne decided after we were after all four of them got their swords that they would go ahead and buy me a sword and so this is the best one out of all of them it's the longest and this sword for those of you that don't know Lord of the Rings is the sort of Aragorn he's the king and the last book in the series is called The Return of the King and that's about him whoo and he holds and he holds this sword but the story of this sword is quite interesting actually because in early before the books even began there's a history kind of behind this sword where this sword was used to cut the ring of power the whole narrative is about this ring the Lord of the Rings is the name of the trilogy and it's all about destroying this ring this evil ring of power and and before the books even begin that this is the sword that cut off the ring of the hand of Sauron and destroyed evil as it were but in the process it was broken this sword was broken and so as the movie begins there's this kind of this memorial to these this sword that called the the sort of the narsil this sort of narsil anyway so that's it's kind of memorialized well through this movie this sword gets remade it gets and put into the hands of Aragorn so that he can fight evil once more and and it's this kind of this epic thing matter of fact it's so important in the narrative that Tolkien writes a poem about it and he writes a poem that kind of sets the tone for it's actually I think one of the I mean if you want to get anything tattooed on your back this would be the thing in my opinion I'm just saying I haven't done that nobody start to freak out but this is awesome and Tolkien writes this poem that really describes my journey maybe your journey too it describes some things that I'm hoping for and living for and fighting for and it has a little bit to do with this sword that I just mentioned and this is what he wrote all that his gold does not glitter not all those who wander are lost the old that is strong does not wither deep roots are not reached by the frost from the ashes a fire shall be woken a light from the shadows shall spring renewed shall be the blade that was broken the crownless again shall be king so as you can tell it's Tolkien stuff has really impacted me in my journey these last three years and so much so that I decided to get a tattoo of the shards of narsil that I want to show you right now so here it is you guys I know this will be uncomfortable for some of you but so yeah that's it dang that looks good didn't it I mean even with my farmer's tan it still looks pretty good up there I got it I got it tattooed on my arm not because I'm a tattoo guy or anything I just I needed something to remind me of a couple of things one that I'm broken but I'm being remade that that that at some point in my journey I will I'll be fully remade and I'm in process right now but it's a reminder to me that I'm I am broken no way getting around that but but but Jesus is reading me restoring me renewing the joy of my salvation etc it also reminds me of one other thing that that my son was broken but he has been fully remade and even now he's a sword in the hands of our God impacting hundreds and thousands of people through our story through his story the ripples that we have in this life the way that we live the way that we love the way that we care for others it literally goes into eternity today matters this moment matters would you close your eyes for a moment and with your eyes closed I wanted to finish by reading the last paragraph in my book and as a prayer for me and for you and for all who would journey with me through this this would be true for you as it is for me I still believe I still believe God has my world in his hands I still believe he is for me and not against me I still believe he can do not only what he says he wants to do but he does it I'm also believing for more more dancing in less mourning more joy and less sadness more praise and less silence more intimacy and less bitterness more passion and less pain more remembering and less regret one day I will sing again one day you will sing again my hope and prayer is that we'll not only sing on that day but we'll sing on this day it's what I want and I know it's what my son would want Jesus our lives are in your hands we don't understand everything we don't understand the why of why some things happen and why some are blessed some go through really hard stuff we don't understand all of those things but Jesus what I do know and what I'm learning and what I'm seeing over and over in my life that you are making old things new that you are restoring what the enemy has stolen that you are repairing what has been broken you are you are mending my heart and my life that you are creating a sense of purpose and joy again that Jesus I pray that for our church I pray that for our community I pray that that that we would have space to grieve we would have space to doubt we would have space to even despair but Jesus that we would also have space to live in to the restoration work of your Holy Spirit in our lives that we give each other space for you to do your greatest work of redeeming what this world is stolen from us restoring but the enemy has taken Jesus I believe that for us we're leaning into that and we thank you that you're doing that work in our hearts today and into our future in Jesus name

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