Enough?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12–13)

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I woke up to the simple fact that I was woefully flawed.

It wasn’t really anything newly discovered.  There wasn’t any blatant immortality that suddenly reared its ugly head.  There was no forced intervention of family and friends to rescue me from some overtly destructive behavior.

On the other hand, there was the slowly dawning realization that my flaws and failures were real and weren’t going to be wished away.  There was the slowly expanding understanding that the Spirit of God had much work still yet to do in me.  And, to make matters worse I came to see how my stubborn pride was doing a pretty good job of putting out the Spirit’s fire.

I was a master at sticking my head in the sand. I was perfectly equipped to ignore or at least see my flaws as less flawed than others. As a result, it was far easier to preach to someone else than to recognize God’s Spirit illuminating my own short comings.

Ultimately, I began to understand with greater clarity that all men (and women) were truly equal: we are all broken by sin!  My sin, my struggles, my brokenness was not somehow less sinful than yours. At the end of the day, the only real difference between any of us–outside of the saving grace of Jesus– was our ability to see our own imperfection.

Today?

Today, I am the same guy to one degree or another. I am still tempted on occasion to see myself as above others. I am still enticed by the desire to see your failures as worse than mine. Thankfully, God is still working on me and His enlightenment continues to grow.

Tomorrow may be different. I may get stuck again. I may close my eyes to some essential truth. And If I do, well, tomorrow I may need you to kindly and lovingly remind me that I am not what I sometimes think.

But today? Today I can say with all the hope in the universe… “Hi! My name is Les Ferguson, Jr. I am a husband, father, son, and brother–and now a grandfather. I am a minister. I am a writer. But more importantly, I am a child of the King. Broken by sin/ renewed, restored, and reconciled by grace.”

And that’s enough.

Until God calls us home, that’s enough.

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Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

It’s What I Do!

The sixteen year old needed to use my Macbook for a school project.

Made me wonder who he thought he was.

My Macbook?

Give a teenager (hey, there are three at my house right now and they can be rented out for odd jobs as long as you feed them) an inch and well, you know the old cliche.

Really son? My Macbook?

But then he needed my flash drive too.

Remember that thing about giving them an inch?

So I copied the flash drive onto my Mac in order not to lose it’s contents…

In the process I discovered something I have absolutely no memory of writing. It has a system saved date of November 29, 2011. Just a little over a month after the events of October 10, 2011.

I read this bulletin article (I think that’s what it was) ) and wonder how I had the clarity to say, think, or write any of it.

Here’s a snippet:

Life as we know it sure can change in an instant. And not always for the better…

I wish I had lots of words of encouragement and comfort to share. I wish I could look at each of you and tell you that whatever pain you are suffering/ enduring was going to get better sometime soon.

I really wish I could do that, but I can’t.

In reality, I know things will one day be better, if not highly different and strange in how they look and feel.  But until they do—until enough time has passed—where you are is where you must be.

I read that and shake my head. Part of me would like to punch the guy who wrote those words.

Cheeky fellow, he was.

I read that and find it hard to believe this guy was still trying to minister even in and through his own pain.

What was he thinking?

Truthfully? I don’t know if I was thinking. I suspect I was running on autopilot. I had spent so much of my life trying to care for the needs of others regardless of my own.

Whether it should or shouldn’t be that way is a discussion for maybe another day.

But the reality is most preachers pour their lives out in service. And even when they can no longer preach from a pulpit on Sundays, they are still seeking to serve. It’s not second nature for them–it is first.

In the meantime, I don’t know what the future holds for me (none of us really do).

I don’t know if I will ever preach for a church again on a weekly basis (I did recently dare to dream and emailed a resume or two).

But this I do know.

I want to serve and minister to those who are hurting (I hurt with them) and to those who are struggling and wrestling with God (it’s a tag team match, I promise).

It’s who I am.

It’s what I do.

I try to remind God about that on a regular basis. But, maybe just maybe, through the words of this blog and other writing ventures–through speaking here and there–I might still make a difference.

That’s the purpose I crave.

Thank you for helping me fulfill it.

And that article written by a hurting preacher who had no idea or clue how difficult it would become? It ended with these still applicable words, slightly edited for publishing in this venue:

Here is ministry advice from one is literally fighting for his life, his faith, and his future…

Life is too short too live in bitterness and anger—forgive before it consumes you.

If you are married, do not take your spouse for granted.

Hug your children. Everyday. As often as you can.

And finally, if you have a damaged relationship with a friend or a family member, don’t wait for the right opportunity to begin repairing it—the opportunity is now—you will be glad you did.

 

Les Ferguson, Jr.