A Turning Point

Several years ago, perhaps as many as seven or eight, something happened with me that permanently affected my walk with God, in a good way. It was a turning point. I relay that moment (for that’s all it was, but a moment) here.

I was sitting in my mom’s living room, relaxing in a recliner. My mom and step-dad were also present in the room. The general conversation is long forgotten, but for one part.

At some point, my mom asked me if I knew where a particular story in the Bible was. A simple enough question. But it turned out to be the trigger that caused this monumental turning point in my life and walk with God.

As soon as she asked, I turned my mind off because I didn’t want to answer her, or even try to do so. So, instead of politely answering, I leaned my head back into the chair, closed my eyes and said “No”.

In my mind, however, my real answer to her inquiry was “Look it up yourself. Why does everyone have to ask me all the time”?

It’s here that I want to diverge from the narrative, and go back a little more into the past, to help explain my mental reaction to an otherwise innocent, fair question.

About a year or so before the above occurred, my church was hosting a youth rally event we call Battle of the Choirs. It was our second year doing it (it has become an annual event for us since its inception). One of the younger men in our church, who was about twenty at the time, was on stage, getting ready to perform a song he had written called “I’m Not Leaving”.

I was standing in the back of the hall, enjoying myself. He spoke into the mic and told the audience what the song was about. In his description, he mentioned the account of Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. As he told of the story, he tried to remember where in the Bible it was located. He knew it was in the book of Genesis (obviously), but he wasn’t sure of the chapter. That’s when it happened. He looked out into the audience, scanning the crowd, and said “Where is Brother Aaron V…”? I raised my hand so he could see me. He did and asked me from across the room, while on stage, into the mic “What chapter is it? Is it Genesis 33? 32?” Somehow, from across the distance, I was able to signal to him that it was chapter 32.

He appreciated my assistance and then, thus complimented me so:

“I knew Aaron would know. He knows the Bible better than most. It’s like he’s got a computer for a brain. He’s like this Bibleman, or something”.

Our pastor (at the time) also latched onto it and began calling me that from the pulpit. And since then, I’ve affectionately been known to my church as “Bibleman”.

At first, it was kind of cool. I was garnering positive attention for my Bible knowledge, and I appreciated the recognition. It gave me a sense of importance and usefulness to my fellow believers. I admit it: I liked it.

But the blessing, soon enough, in my eyes, started to become a curse. After the accolades came the constant questions and petitions for Biblical insight or help.

Aaron, where does the Bible mention…?

Aaron, does the Bible ever…?

Could you give me a few Scriptures for my Bible study…?

It was non-stop. I was getting questions like this every week. In person, through phone calls, even texts and emails. And if it wasn’t questions, then it was comments like:

You have a special gift, Aaron…

Knowing the Bible so well isn’t normal…

I wish I could understand the Bible like you…

I may not be able to explain this as well as Aaron can…

Man, Aaron, how do you remember so much…

Dude, seriously, that’s awesome…

So, between the constant questions and what felt like worship, I was getting sick of it. I never once called myself Bibleman. I didn’t ask for the appellation, and I was becoming too shy, modest, or embarrassed, when someone else started calling me Bibleman.

You must understand. For me, learning and studying God’s Word was, and is, my delight. It is my major passion in life. Before I was married, I had no hobbies. I didn’t pursue any real recreation. All I did, day and night, was read, study, pray, mediate on, and share God’s Word. When I wasn’t reading the Bible, I was studying concordances, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, commentaries, history books about the Bible, and etc.

For me, it wasn’t some special gift or anointing. It was hours and hours and hours and hours of investment and sacrifice. I sought it out. Every day when I prayed, I’d pace back and forth, purposefully holding my Bible over my heart, interceding and beseeching God for whatever petitions. I would place my opened Bible over my eyes and hide my face and cry (read: roar in agony) into it, begging God for understanding. I even sometimes used my Bible as a pillow. I would plead with Him to make me know His Word. I prayed out loud Psalm 119 at least once a year, on the first warm day of Spring.

There was so much done in secret, in my prayer closet, as I privately devoted myself to God and His Word.

And so, I began to resent all the questions, all the accolades. I felt like people were using me for my Bible knowledge, not ever knowing the cost. I began to doubt other people’s commitment to their own Bible study time and devotions. I didn’t see myself or my abilities as unique. I saw it as hard spiritual work, with God faithfully honoring all that I put into learning the Scriptures. I just thought that everyone needed to get off their lazy butts and put their face into the Word for once and answer their own questions.

This brings us up to speed. My mom asked me her question, and it was the last straw. I refused to help her. I was done. No more Mr. Bibleman. From then on, everyone could go without. I told her no, thought my thoughts (as mentioned above) and was prepared to move on.

But then, in that one instant, like a divine sledge hammer crushing my soul, God’s righteous, indignant conviction came upon me. The Lord reproved me right there in my chair. He said (I paraphrase here, since it was not so much in words, but rather an impression, through which the message was communicated):

You know where it’s at. Don’t lie. Tell her.

Immediately changing course under the mighty hand of God, I said to my mom “Try Luke 7”. Sure enough, what my mom was looking for (the woman who was forgiven much because she loved much) was there.

My mom looked it up and happily enjoyed reading the passage.

From that moment on, by the grace and correction of God, I never again begrudged anyone if they asked me a question about the Bible, where to find something, if there’s a verse about such and such, and/or etc. Or even the nickname Bibleman.

That experience turned everything in my life around. I shudder to think if I had foolishly ignored the admonition of the Lord to change my heart and give answer to my mom.

Now, the lesson. I share all this with you, the reader, for a reason. It’s not to brag on or tell on self. Rather, another purpose is here being served.

Depending on where you are in your walk with God, you are going to begin noticing how He’s developing you, gifting you, perhaps even rewarding you, for your faithfulness in seeking Him (See Hebrews 11:6). Others are also going to notice. And the more they notice, the more God confirms His calling and gifting in your life, the more people who have a need for such a calling and gifting are going to come to you, wanting you to fulfill your calling and share your gift with them, whatever it might be.

You are going to have to realize that whatever God calls and equips you to do, it’s not just for you, for your personal feel-goods, or for the accolades of friends, family, or colleagues. It’s so you can serve and share with others the goodness of God.

James 1:17,

17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

1 Peter 4:10,

10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

The fact is, dear reader, whatever God has called and gifted you to be or do, it came from Him, and it is good. But your calling and gifting is intended to serve the needs of others. Whatever God has given you in this life to do, it’s to be done as a good steward or manager, of God’s gifting. It’s not for you to hoard or keep private like some heirloom no one else gets to see.

And lest you begin to think too highly of yourself, or if others try to puff you up for your calling and gifting, remember what Paul wrote here:

1 Corinthians 4:7,

7. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

You’re not special. You’re no different from anyone else. All that you have was given to you by God. All of it was received; not innately birthed by your own power, ability, personal charisma, or what have you. Don’t boast over the good things the Father has blessed you to have. Rather, boast and glory in the God who graciously imparted some good calling and gift into your life (See Jeremiah 9:24).

Finally, to end my admonishment. Don’t be like me, who once upon a time resented how God sovereignly chose to call and gift me, because I thought I was being taken advantage of. Be mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus, who said “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

When your calling and gifting brings you to the forefront of ministry and recognition, and people keep coming to you, constantly asking for more and more of what God has called and gifted you to do, don’t let your flesh dictate your response. Rather, let the Spirit within you say “[I am an] unprofitable servant…[I] have done that which was [my] duty to do” (Luke 17:10).

God bless you and keep you.

Peace,

Aaron

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~ by votivesoul on 02/01/2013.

One Response to “A Turning Point”

  1. An additional component to sharing of the God given, God nurtured talents that we currently have, is by sharing we are also a living example as to how others may interpret how their walk with God may want to progress and may be an amiable trait and steps to follow in. I say this because that is what has happened to me since last March 24th. Being honored to be involved in an indepth, intense Bible study kept me striving and searching out the scriptures as my Bible-coach instructed and guided me with. Why did he do this teaching with me? Because that is what Christians do, we love God, he sacrificed for us, we search for truth and then share what we learn. My Bible-coach instilled within me how to do this on my own. Now, I can share with others how God guides and the Spirit teaches all we need to know. I love this search for truth and I loved my first year of Bible Study with Brother Aaron. I thank God daily for teaching how to fish instead of feeding me. God is my Rock and Fortress. I will walk and faint not.

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