My heart has been heavy for the past couple of days. One of my favourite mentors Matt Chandler had a seizure a couple of weeks ago and received word that it was caused by a brain tumor. They went in just over a week ago to remove the tumor and could only get part of it. It’s cancer. He has three kids, all under seven years of age. He is waiting to hear about treatment options this week.
I have been listening to his podcasts for the past three years and have been profoundly changed by it. When you listen to a man preach his heart out for that long you feel like you have walked a mile or two with him. I know his kid’s names, how he met his wife, where he takes them to eat, what drives him crazy, what he loves about the Lord. He is one influence that has brought a vivid new understanding of what the Gospel is about and I am totally hooked now. The Gospel is all I want to preach for the rest of my days.
I visited The Village where he works when I was in Texas in September and was as giddy as a fool for the next two days. After worship I walked right past his wife and daughter in the foyer and it was like meeting a celebrity. I wanted to introduce myself but I was afraid of looking like a stalker and more afraid they had security to take care of that sort of thing.
Matt has preached constantly on the sufficiency of Christ: If you take it all away, God is enough. No physical blessings can compare to the knowledge of Jesus. His mentor, John Piper has also preached on this.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
Phil 3: 7-8
I believe that with all of my head but when a challenge comes, I am disappointed with how my heart replies. Despite what I know I am shocked that God would allow one of his servants to suffer like this. I know better but I can’t believe that God could let this happen. I know that God Himself suffered; He was willing to butcher His own Son to redeem me; I believe that God is enough, but I am embarrassed by my hypocrisy. “God is enough” … as long as I have life the way I want it. I can say these words but I struggle to believe them.
The wicked words that have come to mind the past couple of days are “God doesn’t take good care of his tools.” These words are a lie from Satan. It is a lie that is based in the false notion that I know what is best; that I know what success really is. I know that God loves me too much to give me what I want. (God, help me believe it.)
God loves me better than 50 years, than 150 years of effective, world famous ministry. He loves me more than 100 lifetimes with my wife and children. His desire for me is to be eternally reunited with him in the way we were meant to be together. He desires to take what is crooked and bent within me and restore it. God knows of what speaks. He has suffered every betrayal, every sin, every undeserved wound for me. He has lost everything I could ever imagine to buy me back from my own sin.
God has made me for His glory, not my own and I confess that I seek my own glory all too easily. I covet what is rightly His. Matt is God’s instrument and he has been counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. What could be more profound for the world to see than a man suffer and potentially lose everything and turn that over to bring glory to God? No glory can compare to the glory a messenger brings to God when he can say in the midst of pain, “God is enough. He is enough.”That proclamation cannot be refuted. The most jaded skeptic in the world cannot find in that any hidden agenda, or any selfish manipulation that would serve anyone’s purpose but that of Christ. If everything is lost, God is enough. (God help me believe that.)
Whom have I in heaven but you? The earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, in the midst of loss, and illness, and suffering; not in the midst of success, and wealth.
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” I pray for a speedy recovery and continued ministry for Matt but let me be convinced of God’s provision. A suffering servant of God who makes much of the One that made him makes God look glorious!