Into the blistering wilderness of Shur,
the man who walked with kings now walks alone
Torn from the pinnacle of royal power,
stripped of all rank and earthly wealth,
a forsaken man without a country, without a hope,
his soul in turmoil like the hot winds and raging sands
that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster's whip.
He is driven forward,always forward,
by a god unknown,toward a land unseen...
into the molten wilderness of sin,
where granite sentinels stand
as towers of living death to bar his way.
Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness.
In the mocking whisper of the wind,
he hears the echoing voices of the dark...
His tortured mind wondering if they call the memory
of past triumphs or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come
or whether the desert's hot breath
has melted his reason into madness.
He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips
nor shade the scorching fury of the sun.
All about is desolation.
He can neither bless nor curse
the power that moves him,
for he does not know from where it comes.
Learning that it can be more terrible
to live than to die, he is driven onward
Through the burning crucible of desert,
where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged
for god's great purpose,until at last,
at the end of human strength,
beaten into the dust from which he came,
the metal is ready for the maker's hand.
Many of us remember the scene from the movie The Ten Commandments where Moses is exiled from Egypt and sent out by Ramses into the desert to die. As Moses struggles through the desert, the narrator of the movie reads the above script with heightened music playing in the background to dramatize Moses' struggle and suffering. The narration is given emphasis to illustrate the process that God will take a man or woman through until he or she is fit and ready for the Master's use.
In our world today, great value is placed upon education from the finest of universities with little value placed upon personal experience and the many lessons life has to teach. Unfortunately, many churches today also look at a college degree as a superior achievement for a pastor with little regard to a man's character and faithfulness! God's ways, however, are not man's ways! All through scripture, God molds men and women he desires to use for his glory by taking them through his processes! Like gold refined in a crucible seven times, God refines men and women through the experiences and testings of life.
Last Sunday at Downriver Christian Community Church, we celebrated Pastor John Russell's 60th birthday as well as his 20 years of exemplary, faithful service and leadership as senior pastor at the church. Like Moses in The Ten Commandments movie, Pastor John was molded for service by his submissive attitude to the will of God for his life and the desire to see a church grow in God's grace regardless of the personal cost. Not knowing what lay ahead of him when he entered full-time ministry, he trusted in the Good Shepard to lead him through the valleys of darkness and death, relying on him at every turn and in every circumstance. Having been forged and beaten in the furnace of life, Pastor John emerged formed, hardened, and ready for battle, as a weapon of war useful for the Master's service!
Rock on the Rock, Dude!
It has been my honor and privilege to serve alongside a man of God like Pastor John over these many years. I have witnessed his courage under fire, his wisdom in difficult circumstances, his determination against all odds, and his passion in service to Jesus Christ his King. The Bible states in Romans 13:7 [Give] honor to whom honor [is due]!
Pastor John, all of us at Downriver Christian Community Church congratulate and honor you on your many years of exemplary service and conduct. Well done, good and faithful servant of the Lord! May God continue to lead and bless you abundantly in the years to come!
Stay Holy, My Friends!