As many of you may know, Beni Johnson, wife of Bill Johnson of Bethel in Redding California, went home to be with the Lord after a long battle with cancer. To my surprise, Bill spoke at Sunday’s service, days after the passing of his beloved wife.
His message was sobering, heart-breaking, encouraging and convicting.
Initially, I was in awe of his ability to stand before a crowd, preaching and praising after such a great loss. The depth of his commitment to God is inspiring, indeed. However, as I listened to his words of wisdom, I couldn’t help but think of things I am seeking God for.
Although these things are not near as weighty as what he is dealing with, am I reacting the same way he is in the midst of the battle? I was humbled by the way he continues to press into God for His peace during this time. How he continually and on purpose, made himself keep his eyes firmly on God and the big picture of eternity and not only on the hurt and loss he has currently experienced. And how he worshipped and praised from the depth of his heart during such a hard season.
I think when we see men and women like him face great disappointment and loss and continue to seek God, without missing a beat, we can learn something from their walk with God. A scripture comes to mind, even as I am writing this…
Follow me as I follow Christ. (1 Cor. 11)
The Amplified says it like this; Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).
Bill Johnson has committed to continue to follow Christ in the midst of the battle – why? Because he has come to know that Jesus Christ alone is his source. On Sunday he said, “Is Jesus my friend? Of course, but before he was my friend, he was my Lord.” That Lordship is what is holding him steady when most would fall apart.
I don’t know about you, but his walk through this time makes me want to walk better through my times of disappointment and loss. It encourages me to find the strength that only comes from God and continue to press forward. It shows me the depth of endurance and tenacity we can find in God to carry us through any season of life.
It makes me want to stop and worship. Stop and praise. Stop and remember that before I knew the Word of God and the promises of God – before all that – He was simply my Lord. For that reason alone, He is worthy to be praised and worshipped. In that one truth, is reason enough to trust Him when I can’t see the way through. To believe that He works all things for my good – even when I don’t understand how He could possibly do that. Even so…He is still God.
Another scripture comes to mind as I write.
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)
My friends, we are all going to face disappointment and loss. May we all remember to rejoice in God, even and especially during the hard seasons. To keep our eyes on Him and to walk in a way that encourages and inspires others. May we follow Christ, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and remembering, He is Lord of all.