My wife and colleagues at Southwestern Seminary have asked me this week, “Are you doing OK? You’re acting weird and a little off.” Weird – no; a little off – yes. I’ve been highly introspective this week and overwhelmed with a single thought. Let me explain.
There is a confluence of upcoming events that have caused me to be highly introspective, namely my 10-year anniversary at Southwestern Seminary, turning 50 years old, and my daughter’s 11th birthday. These events have caused me to reflect on the past decade and ponder the next. Of course, many memorable “firsts” have occurred over the past 10 years, such as:
- The salvation of three of my four children.
- Listening to each of my children say “Daddy” for the first time.
- Hiking the Sonoran Desert with my wife.
- Drinking tiste (cacao-based beverage in Nicaragua) and eating nilgai and oryx.
- Receiving my first black eye from one of my sons (wrestling my four kids, I miscalculated the launch of one my children from the bed).
- Watching a flamingo bite one of my sons.
- Seven sets of stitches among the Patricks (two sets for me alone).
However, what has overwhelmed me with a single thought is reflection on the weighty experiences and life transitions that have occurred in my life over the past decade, including:
- Changing careers from a “business as missions” vocation to full-time vocational ministry, accompanied by an initial sevenfold decrease in salary.
- Selling a house, purchasing a new house, and moving my wife of two years with one child in a stroller and one in utero.
- Changing church families and ministry service.
- Selling two vehicles (bye-bye to my truck) and purchasing a minivan.
- Starting and graduating from seminary.
- Four additional pregnancies (we started the decade with one child), experiencing the loss of one and birth of three.
- The death of my mother and sister after they succumbed to long-term diseases.
- The diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer in my wife and her subsequent miraculous healing.
- The cancer diagnoses and healing in two additional family members.
- The countless home-goings of many men and women of faith.
- The emotional launch of 4,272 graduating Southwestern Seminary students across the globe.
- Mentoring numerous young Timothys, both celebrating and grieving with them through life.
This historical synopsis attests to hours of prayer, rollercoasters of emotion, and highs and lows in personal relationships. Your life probably has similar experiences and transitions. I am exhausted just reliving the past decade in my mind. However, the emotional exhaustion and the events themselves are not what have overwhelmed me. The overwhelming thought that preoccupies my mind upon reflection on these events is that of God’s faithfulness.
Despite life circumstances and my own shortcomings, God has been faithful through all. He is El HaNe’eman, the faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 36:5, 119:90; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). He has been my provision and my security through the sleepless nights, uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and grief. I can truly attest that He is “my refuge and my fortress” (Psalm 91:2). I am overwhelmed in praise for my God of unwavering faithfulness in the midst of the fragility of life.
Have you taken a moment to contemplate how faithful God has been in your life? I invite you to do so; to be overwhelmed with El HaNe’eman. It is fine for folks to perceive you being “a little off” this week. Let your mind be preoccupied with God’s faithfulness. Both Moses and Joshua frequently recounted God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. Their minds became preoccupied with El HaNe’eman. It is beneficial to be reminded of the God who loves us and whom we worship. We do not worship a god of unfaithfulness.
As I pen this post, Resurrection Sunday is approaching, yet another reminder of God’s faithfulness. He faithfully kept His promise to send a Savior who paid the penalty for my sin and conquered death so that I, even I, may have everlasting life with Him. In 1 John 1:9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise Him for His faithfulness!