Christ Is Enough
Christ Is Enough|
I walked into First Baptist Church in Charleston looking for a Sunday School class. “You can come to my class,” invited a man holding an adorable Chinese baby dressed in a tiny pink kimono set.
“She’s beautiful,” I gasped.
“We just got back from China on Friday. Hi, my name is Keith.” We shook hands as he juggled holding the baby with one hand. “This is Luann.”
We talked about China as Keith walked me to Sunday School. When we arrived, he introduced me to teacher, Bob Nagy. Bob and I chatted briefly about Pocket Full of Quarters. As we talked, a blond haired woman breezed in, threw her books down on her chair, and made for the door again. Bob stopped her. “Rebecca, this is Cheryle Touchton. She writes people’s spiritual stories.” He looked at me. “This is my wife, by the way.”
“I want to talk to you,” she said. “You need to hear my story but right now I’ve got to run back down stairs.” She ran out the door and was back in amazing time. Breathless, she took the chair beside me. As I looked at my butterfly dress covered in dog hair, I tried not to be intimidated by her sleek black and white pantsuit and stylish black pointy-toed shoes.
She doesn’t have any dog hair on her black clothing, I whined to God. I looked at the only pair of dress sandals I brought and realized they were years old. Are these even in style any more? When I buy that new purse, I’m getting matching shoes. (See the story Did You Know - Hair.) Longingly, I thought of all of the dresses, suits, and shoes I have in Jacksonville. God, is this the sin of pride, envy, or did I just pack wrong?
People had seen the Pocket Full of Quarters van with the generator running and wanted to know all about it. Keith and his wife Charlotte sat holding Luan who was also the center of attention. (see pictures in the Photo Gallery under South Carolina, Charleston - First Baptist Church) Chaos ruled and I felt guilty for being part of the cause.
Bob decided to take control. “I can tell I won’t get to my lesson today,” he joked. “Keith and Charlotte, you take the first part of the class and tell us about your trip to China. Cheryle, you take the end of the class and tell us about Pocket Full of Quarters.”
Everyone sat spell bound listening to the story of China. “She is our little bundle from God. She’s already a Daddy’s girl,” bragged a proud papa as he lovingly gave Luann her bottle. “They have 700,000 children a year abandoned. About 7,000 of those get adopted to American families. The Chinese see our adopting their babies as saving a life and everywhere we went, people smiled and gave us a thumbs up.” As they talked, Luann snuggled on Keith’s shoulder, yawned, and, oblivious to being the center of attention, went to sleep.
When it was my turn, I told them about the people I was meeting and asked for their prayers. When class was over, we walked downstairs towards the sanctuary. Bob and Rebecca sat with me and invited me to lunch afterwards. “But it’s Father’s Day,” I argued. “I don’t want to intrude.”
“You’re part of our family for today,” Rebecca encouraged. Truthfully, I was missing the men in my life and grateful to have a family for the day.
The sermon topic was finding joy when you face a setback. The scripture text was Philippians 1:12-18.
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. NASU
The pastor, Rev. R. Marshall Blalock, pointed out that Paul could have whined, “Why does God have me in jail. Think about all the good I could be doing if he would release me.” Instead, Paul rejoiced about how God was using his imprisonment. For Paul, his circumstances didn’t matter. Christ was enough.
To find joy, , he said we should adopt a clear vision of reality and then let the peace of Christ rule in our heart.
He said to find this clear vision we should ask ourselves 3 pertinent questions:
1. Is my vision limited?
2. Is my attention on what is missing instead of what I have?
3. Is my vision short of purpose?
After church, Rebecca and I traveled to lunch in hair-filled Hapless (my camper van.) I was worried about her black clothing, but the dog hair didn’t like her as much as it did me. As we traveled, we discussed the sermon. “I spent much of my life focusing on what was missing,” she said. “I was one of those Christians who was saved but had no joy. Now I know that Christ is enough for me, no matter what.”
We passed the Charleston Court House. She looked at it and pointed. “I’ve spent many an hour in that building crying.” Rebecca’s 30 year old son, Rob, is a heroin addict and in prison. “He was recently released but his drug test came back positive so they revoked his parole. He says he is a Christen but he can’t seem to stop those drugs. He’s doing well now but who knows about the future.”
So how did Rebecca discover the secret that Christ is enough? She stopped thinking about herself and started helping others. She volunteers her time helping in a prison ministry. “I was drawn to it because of Rob. I help with a prison Bible Study every Monday night. The first time I went, I was hooked. I entered a room of about 40 hard-core criminals who had become Christians. The peace I witnessed in that room was something I wanted. Some of these men had no hope of parole and yet they were still joyful. I wanted the joy that they had. For them, Jesus was enough. Seeing them has changed my life. Now, I look at what I have instead of what is missing.” I shared a little of my own son, David’s struggles.
“I never understood Romans 8:28 before,” Rebecca continued. “I couldn’t grasp how all things could work out for the good of those who love God. Who would have thought that having my son go to prison would lead me to joy in Christ? Like the pastor said, Rob going to prison was only a setback.”
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASU
Bob enjoyed his Father’s Day meal with his two beautiful daughters, English and Sarah. We talked about their hopes and dreams. Brown haired, petite, twenty-eight year old English blushed as she talked about her budding romance. “We’re taking it slow. He’s a strong Christian. He plays the piano and I sing. We actually met helping with the prison ministry. We tell people we met in prison. I guess what happens next is up to God.”
“I’m going to get desert,” English said. “Would you like some?” We were having a Carolina barbecue buffet. I had noticed the deserts at the end of the line but stuck to my simple meal of corn, barbeque pork, and vegetables. Surely I was getting extra stars in my crown.
“English, because you look like you do, you can have desert. I can’t have things like that anymore.” She laughed.
Blond, sweet, twenty-one year old Sarah is still looking for her calling in life. “I worked in a day care for a while but I don’t think it is what I want to do for life.”
“Don’t worry,” I tried to encourage. “God has something wonderful planned for you.”
Sarah is their only adopted child. “She was a gift intended for us,” Rebecca beamed as she told the story of how Sarah came to be theirs.
“I always tell Sarah that we chose her and were stuck with English and Rob,” quipped Bob.
“Sarah, how does it make you feel to be thought of as a gift?” I asked.
“Special,” she shyly smiled.
“Two of my children were adopted,” I remarked. “I wanted them to feel as loved as my biological child, Chris, so I was always talking about how special they were. One day Chris asked me why he couldn’t be adopted like David and Kelley. I suspect I had gone overboard on the adoption thing.”
As we parted, I thought about all the discussions about adoptions. Keith and Charlotte had adopted Luann and their older son Emil. The Nagy's had adopted Sarah. I have two adopted children. Then I realized that I too was adopted. As Christians, we are adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intentions of God’s will. (Ephesians 1:4-6) Like little Luann, we can snuggle up on the shoulder of our Father, and just allow the world to go by. Christ really is enough. Like Rebecca, we can have the joy that comes from Christ, no matter what. Like Sarah, I felt special.
In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASU