Sometimes people ask me how general superintendents survive the demands of the assignment, referring to the thousands of miles we travel, the countless decisions we make, and the basic acts of serving in such a confusing world. Since my retirement begins in August, I have been thinking. How do any of us survive in this difficult, imperfect, demanding environment? Everyone faces enormous challenges in life.
We know it all begins with the foundation of inviting our great Savior to forgive our sins and to live in us and through us. Then we discover a further need for His sanctifying grace to enable us to be holy by the power of the Spirit.
Beyond these beautiful expressions of God's best for us, what can we do on a daily basis to give us strength for the journey? Two resources stand out in my mind. The first is being open every day to God's willingness to invest in us-giving us His strength, wisdom, and multiple provisions for the road of life. We encounter so much we do not understand, and we have so many questions.
However, an answer comes in Mark 4:34. Jesus had been teaching the people and the disciples with parables or stories that illustrated a point. He did not explain everything to the crowds. Verse 34 says, "He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."
When did the disciples get explanations? When they were alone with Jesus.
No substitute exists for spending time with Jesus and giving Him time to explain to us what we need to know to get through the confusion and challenges of our lives. This has been the saving factor for me throughout all my years of ministry-getting alone with Jesus so He can explain what I need to know so I can deal with impossible situations. When we are alone with Him, He will either help us see what He is doing or inspire greater faith to trust Him even when we do not understand.
Jesus invests in us when we give Him the opportunity, but He also intervenes in our lives when necessary. He teaches us not only with words but also with His actions.
In the rest of chapter 4, Mark gives us a gripping example of Christ's power to intervene. It is the familiar story of the crossing of the Sea of Galilee at night in a terrible storm. The disciples thought they would die, but at just the right time Jesus powerfully and miraculously stopped the storm. They were saved!
When our youngest daughter, Connie Jo, was about 10 years old, we were in a boating accident. She panicked when she hit the water, and I needed help to save her. A man on the shore saw what had happened. Without hesitation he leaped into the water, swam to us, and rescued my daughter. We will always be grateful for his intervention.
How comforting it is to know that Jesus always has us in His sight and is ready to intervene. The assurance of His willingness not only to invest in us, but also to intervene in our lives, equips us for even the most demanding of circumstances. What a source of courage this knowledge brings!
Remember, the Father has everything under control--even retirement.
Paul G. Cunningham is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.