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KEEPING THE FAITH | When the burden of the call isolates you from others

I now recognize when He is separating me from the noise and chatter it is so that I may hear Him more clearly. At times, this path can be lonely but understand you are not alone.
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

God can take a situation that appears dire and use it ultimately for His glory. Case in point is a review of the latter days in the life of John, who authored several books of the Bible, including one of the Gospels.

After he was seized in a persecution campaign by the Roman Emperor, John, the beloved disciple of Christ, was banished to Patmos, a Greek island. 

Patmos was a small rocky area where criminals of Rome were sentenced to serve their prison terms under oppressive conditions. John was the last remaining member of the 12 disciples. He wrote of his personal plight in Revelation 1:9, “I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus.”

The convicts were required to work in mines on the island. The early Christians had developed a reputation for causing trouble within the Empire. It was after John's arrival to the barren land that he began to have visions which are detailed in the Book of Revelation. Interestingly, many avoid reading Revelation, yet in Revelation 1:3, John indicates there is a blessing for those who read, hear and obey the content of this book.    

Although John was separated and likely at times felt a sense of abandonment, he used these intimate moments to allow God to increase and shape his faith. God has placed something special in John: a vision. When God calls you to leadership, He is also calling you to isolation. Every leader within sacred text had to spend time alone with God! 

The responsibilities and burden of the call often will isolate you from others.  

I now recognize when He is separating me from the noise and chatter it is so that I may hear Him more clearly. At times, this path can be lonely but understand you are not alone. For even if walking through the valley of the shadow of death, know that God is there. I encourage you to listen to that still small voice within your spirit, telling you to fight on and keep the faith. 

I want to share two different island castaway experiences to encourage those who find themselves deserted and depleted. It Is my hope you will look at social isolation and distancing from a different lens.

Cast Your Cares Upon Him: There was once a man who was ship-wrecked and stranded on an uncharted island. Daily, he prayed asking God to send someone to rescue him. To his disappointment, no one ever came.

Months passed and this man learned how to survive on the island. During this time, he accumulated things from the island and stored them in a hut that he constructed. One day after hunting for food and returning back to his hut, much to his dismay he saw that his hut was on fire along with everything else he owned!

All of his possessions were going up in smoke. The only thing he had left were the clothes on his back. Initially he was in shock, and then he was consumed with anger and rage!

In his fury he threw a fist into the air and began cursing God and yelling, “God, how could you let this happen to me? I’ve been praying everyday for months about being rescued and no one has come, and now everything that I have is on fire! How could you do this to me! Why did you let this happen?”

Later the man was on his knees openly weeping when he happened to look up and observed a ship coming in his direction. The man was rescued and as they were heading back to civilization the man asked the captain, “How were you able to find me?” The captain responded, “We were voyaging across the ocean when we noticed on the horizon a column of smoke going up. We decided to go check it out and when we did, that’s when we found you!”

The lesson: Seek the good or truth that can be gleaned from unfortunate experiences. I have witnessed challenging situations which were initially deemed unpleasant that were  ultimately revealed as blessings in disguise. 

Cast Down But Not Forsaken:  Two men found themselves stranded on a desert island. They both decided that their only recourse was prayer. They separated, each taking a different part of the small island. Everything the first man prayed for was granted: food, drink, warmth, shelter; but the second man had nothing. 

Eventually, the first man prayed for rescue, and, sure enough, a boat came to take him away. As he boarded the boat, he heard God calling to him "Why are you leaving your brother behind on the island?" The man replied, "He doesn't deserve to be rescued, for none of his prayers were answered".

God replied, “You are mistaken, he had just one prayer, which I did answer. Were it not for that, you would have received nothing.” Curious, the man asked, "What did he pray for, that I should owe him anything?" God replied, "He prayed that all your prayers be answered".

The lesson: What I love about this parable is that it is not so much about the power of faith in prayer, but of LOVE in our prayers, an aspect of praying that many seem to dismiss. 

Post Script: Last week I shared the observations of Pastor Ken Donaldson’s “If you are tired, do something!” The call has been answered in part by Ketuan Baldwin, a 37-year-old Youngstown resident who established a legacy scholarship in his name benefiting the scholarly pursuits of future students at Youngstown State University. Ketuan committed to funding $25,000 into this endowment and his employer, Google, will match his gift. The Youngstown State University Foundation has also committed to matching all funding for this Legacy Scholarship making it a potential $100,000 available to support future African American male leaders enrolled in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) or the Williamson College of Business Administration (WCBA).

Ketuan graduated from Youngstown State University in 2004 with an Associate of Applied Science degree and in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree, both in Computer Information Systems. He then returned to YSU and earned his MBA in 2012. Ketuan has established a dynamic career as a technology strategist. Most of his 15-year career has been working for Google and Microsoft helping organizations large and small through digital transformation. Ketuan notes the influence of his wise 91-year-old grandfather, Thomas Baldwin

In his words, Ketuan understands he “may not be able to fix every problem happening in Youngstown, but I can lean in, find solutions for some with the resources, contacts and skills I've developed over the years.”

The scholarship will be available starting the 2022-2023 academic year and is open to full-time or part-time undergraduates with junior or senior status with a minimum grade point average of 2.5. Preference will be given to Mahoning and Trumbull county residents.  It is a one-year scholarship that can be renewable for a maximum of two years. It is Ketuan’s desire to impact as many recipients as possible. Ketaun sees this legacy gift as a means of honoring the past. present and future.

You may not have the ability to establish an endowed scholarship, but you have the capacity to do something. Seek God’s direction for the vision of how you can make an impact in someone’s life. Cast a God-sized vision knowing He is in the provision.

DEAR GOD,

Before I ask you for anything, I want to thank You for everything. For everything you have done for me, I am so grateful. For my family and friends, I thank you Lord. For a reasonable portion of health and strength, thank you. For waking up one more day, in the right frame of mind, with the activity of my limbs, thank you and bless Your Holy Name.  

There are some situations in my life that I now understand as I peer through the rearview mirror of life.  The struggles of yesterday do not compare to the glory You are yet to reveal. Thank you for deliverance. I pray that You will work on my life and bless my endeavors. Today I ask for Your peace to engulf my heart.  I pray for Your peace to comfort my mind. Bring peace to my soul.  Bring peace to my family.  Bring peace to my job. Bring peace to my house and community. God, please bless me in spite of my fears.  Everywhere I look, there are wars and rumors of wars and I pray that You would bring healing to the land.  I pray that You would be the balm that our world needs. Send forth Your healing power and cover us with Your grace and mercy. Make me a walking witness of Your love as I continue to keep the  faith, 

Amen

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.


 
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