“David and the six hundred men with him came to Besor Ravine, where some stayed behind, for two hundred men were too exhausted to cross the ravine. But David and four hundred men continued the pursuit… [and defeated the Amalekites]. Then David returned to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind. They came out to meet David and the people with him… All the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, ‘Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.’ David replied, ‘No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. The share of the man who stayed behind with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.’ David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.” 1 Samuel 30:9-25
|Jay & Angie Hernandez with their children – Alonzo & Nathan|
2008 was a year of overwhelming challenges in my life – a year of exhaustion. Actually, I believe the exhaustion began for me in 2007 and has taken more than an entire year from which to recover. The Scripture, “How the mighty have fallen” echoed in my ears. (2 Samuel 1:19) Until mid 2007, I served as an Evangelist in the International Churches of Christ, but because of my sins, my weaknesses and a lack of sound judgment, I was not even leading a Bible Talk at the City of Angels Church until recently.
In the above account, we do not know why 200 of the men with David were exhausted, while the other 400 were not. Maybe they had been the ones doing most of the fighting before, or maybe they were just the weak soldiers. Since the Holy Spirit makes no mention of the reason, most likely, in the mind of God, the cause for the exhaustion is immaterial. I know my exhaustion has come from many heart-breaks, disappointments, setbacks, the loss of my dreams, a sense of failure, and God’s mighty hand pressing down on me to humble me and change me. Financially, like many, my wife and I have struggled to make ends meet, especially since I was unemployed for the last six months in 2007 and the beginning of 2008. Physically, my diabetes has taken a toll on my body – my blood sugars reaching some of their highest totals. I have struggled to get and keep them under control, even fasting for days with no success. I have at times awoken in the middle of the night with uncontrollable cramping in my legs, due to the lack of vitamins and nutrients reaching my cells. Emotionally, my marriage has suffered, as I have been angry and unspiritual in the leadership of my family. Sadly, my kids also have had to endure my angry scorn. These sins led to “ever-increasing wickedness” as I “returned to the vomit” of my life before I was a Christian by watching pornography on the internet. (Romans 6:19; 2 Peter 2:22) I felt so helpless as my wife pulled farther and farther away, all because I did not know how to handle the emotional turmoil I was feeling inside. Spiritually, I drifted so far from God, that I falsely felt that I did not have the energy to “walk humbly with God” – to pray, to read my Bible, to even attend church at times, and to be the disciple I know how to be. (Micah 6:8)
|The San Diego disciples rejoice over the baptism of Daheem Smith!|
It was not until recently that God changed all of this! I cannot express enough how very grateful I am for the people in my life, who were unwilling to give up on me, especially Raul & Lynda Moreno, Tony & Therese Untalan, Nick & Denise Bordieri, Ron & Tracy Harding, Lance & Connie Underhill, Jason Dimitry, and Michael & Michele Williamson. Without these faithful friends, I know that I would not be faithful today. I came to realize from reading the Scriptures, as well as from several discipleship partner times, that God was discipling me. (Hebrews 12:7-11) If I was to grow strong in my faith, I needed to ask myself, “What is God teaching me in all of my hardships?”
Reading the story in 1 Samuel 30, was a “eureka moment” for me. I realized in an army – and we are in the Lord’s army – there will be those that are exhausted (weak). Secondly, David was righteous in his understanding that those who are weak still belong – they are still equal. For me, one of the biggest obstacles in my path was feeling like I needed to be doing the “great things evangelists do,” but not having the strength to do them, so then I felt like a failure. Had David listened to “the evil men and troublemakers,” not only would the weak have not shared in the plunder, they would have been “kicked out” of the group. They said, “Take their wives and kids and go.” They did not even want them around. “The evil men and troublemakers” had no tolerance for the weak. As individuals, we need to ask ourselves how do we view weakness? How do we respond to those that are weak around us? Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 shares, “To the weak I became weak to win the weak.” He also teaches in Romans 14:1, “Accept him whose faith is weak.” In Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Finally in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul in these instructions says simply, “Help the weak.” Paul understood that there would always be weak people in the body of Christ, and that they were “indispensable.” Why? The weak, because they are often struggling, ungrateful and can easily frustrate us, teach us most how to love like Jesus – to love the unlovable. Likewise, David, different from “the evil men and troublemakers,” felt compassion for the weak. He gave the weak (exhausted) a charge that was not as demanding, but “indispensable!” Their job was to watch the baggage and to wait. For David, the exhausted were not worthless, for they proved their worth as they were faithful to their task.
|The AMS Region celebrates the baptism of Tahira Essex on Sunday evening in Hollywood!|
Coming from a weakened state, I want to encourage any of my brothers and sisters who also might be feeling weakened or exhausted in your faith. First, hang on! Hang on to God and the church. David’s weak men stayed with the supplies. They didn’t meander away or leave, hopeless that their families would be rescued. Secondly, just as David taught and we learn in 1 Corinthians 12:22, “The weaker parts of the body are indispensable.” Weak brothers and sisters, the church cannot do without you. God has brought you into the church – His family – because you are so precious. So precious, that God sent Jesus to die for us. Satan worked hard on my heart to tell me I was worthless, that God looked down at me as a failure and that He had given up on me. Satan told me that my wife and kids would be happier without me in their lives, and the “father of lies” nearly succeeded. (John 8:44) When I gave into Satan’s distortions of the truth, I became extremely bitter towards God for my “situation.” In anger and sometimes hate, I began to grumble and complain against the church leadership and my wife – against the very people that in time through gentle discipling would help to restore my faith. I could see their inadequacies so clearly, yet my criticalness blinded me to my even greater iniquities. I had a “victim mentality” instead of a grateful submission to the sovereignty of God for the events of my life, forgiveness for those who hurt me, and repentance for my own grotesque sins. (Luke 5:31-31) So, do not listen to the demonic deceptions of the Devil. If you are exhausted and weak, tell someone. Find someone who will listen to you and help you. Most essential, just decide you will not give up, but will get help instead. For me, it was one night in a “d-time” with Raul and Lynda that I finally saw the truth – Satan was trying to deceive me, so I would decide to fall away.
|Craig Wademen shares his encouraging story of restoration to the Lord this past Sunday!|
My spiritual strengthening has been a process. As I read my Bible more, and pray more to be obedient to what I read, God is strengthening me. As Jesus told His disciples, “Always pray and not give up!” (Luke 18:1) He is encouraging me to dream again. After finding that one person, or two, with whom to open up your heart, then follow through with Hebrews 12:12, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” You have to be willing to be involved in some aspect in the work of God. Maybe the progress will be slow, but that is okay.
Finally, let me encourage you to keep your eyes focused as Romans 12:1 teaches, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” This Scripture helped so much in turning my walk with God around. You cannot offer a dead or weakened body to God, if you are not focused on His mercy in your life. I have had to go back and remember who I was when God first called me. I now understand the many second, third and tenth chances that He has continued to offer me! I still wrestle to fully comprehend that God’s heart is to always want to show mercy to me.
Raul shared an inspiring Scripture with me the other day. Romans 4:17 teaches, “[Our] God who gives life to the dead, calls things that are not as though they were.” I may be weak now, but God calls me strong! I may be impure now, but God calls me pure! I may be hurting, but God calls me healed! And I may be dead in my transgressions, but God calls me alive in Christ! I now grasp the life-changing words of God to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) To God be the glory, because though I am weak, I am indispensable to my God and to His church!