Returning to the Corner Ponds

I’ve wanted to snap this bike lean photo for a while now. Today, I made it happen. What appears as a bicycle in the bushes to others is a portrait of sacred space for me. To those raised in my hometown of West Green, they know this spot as Corner Ponds off Joe Ellis Road. It was where we skipped rocks, fished, and even swam as kids. But to me, it will always be holy ground. Because about fifteen feet behind where my bike is leaning is where I surrendered to the call to preach.

My anxious mind had a way of jumbling my words, twisting my sentences into verbal pretzels that didn’t make sense to me, and especially anyone else.

It was on the banks of Corner Ponds I relented to God’s persistent pursuit. I fought. I argued with Him. There was no way I could stand in front of people and talk, let alone preach. My anxious mind had a way of jumbling my words, twisting my sentences into verbal pretzels that didn’t make sense to me, and especially anyone else. Lord, I will write, but don’t make me speak in front of people. But here, kneeling in the red Georgia clay, I stopped fighting. I told God, I’ll go anywhere and do whatever you want me to, even preach, I’m yours.

Don’t tell me God can’t use you because I know He will if you surrender.

From this spot, God has taken a young high school dropout, allowed him to return to school, graduate college with honors, sent him to share the gospel on two continents, pastor multiple churches, become a Christian educator (even be voted Teacher of the Year), and write articles read around the world. Don’t tell me God can’t use you because I know He will if you surrender.

Please understand me. This is not a look-at-me-aren’t-I-wonderful post. Honestly, I still see myself as the nervous kid when I look in the mirror. I never want to forget where God has brought me from. That’s why I returned to the Corner Ponds today.

Listen, He speaks.

It’s almost 9:00 p.m. The roar from a train downtown fills the air, as cicadas buzz and crickets chirp. There’s a sultry southern ambience to the evening that I’ve come to appreciate. I look forward to the peaceful closing of the day. Settled in the back porch swing, I’m reflecting on the busy day of calls, deadlines, and commitments. During the bustle, I tried to slow my pace to sense God’s presence. Like Brother Lawrence, I want to practice living in my heavenly Father’s presence. Not only is this my goal, but God also wants this too.

How often do we rush through life chasing fancies that never satisfy, forfeiting the chance to tune our hearts to heaven’s pleasure? Throughout the Scripture, God pursues communion with humanity. From the cool of the Garden of Eden to the current moment, God reaches out to have a relationship with us. However, although God’s voice can thunder, He all too often is soft-spoken. You must quieten your soul to hear the still small voice. Who knows, you may hear him in the passing of a train or calls of insects, but He’s there waiting, speaking. Listen.

Redeemed! Redeemed!

I’m different. The person I was, is not who I am, and the person I am today, I will not be tomorrow. I’ll be better. Closer. From glory to glory, the Spirit is transforming me into the man God always meant me to be (2 Cor 3:18). Although I’m not perfect, the Lover of my soul has promised to keep perfecting me until His kingdom comes, and faith gives way to sight (Phil 1:6). It doesn’t matter what storms swell on the horizons; I’m kept by faith in the blood of the New Covenant. Even when I am fickle, God is true, because He cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13). I’m different by the grace of God.

As I sit here, considering the atoning work of Christ, and the sanctifying power of the Spirit. I’m grateful that I am held tight in my God’s hand (Jn 10:27-28). A peace flows in my heart tonight that I realize others do not possess. There is no need for you to carry guilt and condemnation, because by placing faith in Jesus, you can have peace with God (Rom 5:1). You, too, can experience this transforming love. For all those that believe Christ died and resurrected on the third day and confess Jesus as Lord will be saved (Rom 10:9-10). You can experience the difference Christ makes, too. Call on him by faith and He’ll change you from the inside out (Rom 10:13).