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This is my second time to live in metro Indianapolis. I moved here for the first time in the mid-1990s. I was pastor of a church. I moved back in 2011 when I was elected to my present position. In the last few days, I have been in contact with a few former parishioners who are passing through some deep waters. There are a few who have experienced significant health issues. This past week, as I contacted two or three of my friends, my purpose was to offer them encouragement, and instead, they were a blessing to me. Faith is not just lived out in church meetings, and in sanctuary’s, faith is lived on main street. Belief in our world bumps into problems, disease, disappointment, trials, and troubles. I have had a front-row seat and have observed gritty and rugged determined faith. Being a Christian does not exempt you from problems or mean that you never experience the blows of life. All people experience setbacks and tragic events. The difference for the believer is that there is One who walks with us through the difficult times. My friends who are suffering much have all said the same kinds of things, though with different words. Something I have heard this week: “God is helping me.” Even when I received the news, I can’t explain it pastor, but I felt a deep sense of peace and calm.” “My faith informs me that there is an eternity. I would love to stay here longer, they told me, eternity is forever, and I will be with my Savior.” These last few statements were not spoken by preachers delivering sermons from a pulpit at a church. They were delivered in real-life situations that anyone observing would describe as sad and devastating, my friends have found peace. No doubt they had to work through the physical pain and mental anguish, the sense of loss and grief. Yet, during their illness, their faith gives them hope and serves as a basis for walking through the dark valley with a sanctified serenity that comes from giving everything to God.
Someone has said that trials and crisis do not form our character, but rather only reveals what was there all the time. In other words, the time to prepare for trouble is today, not the day trouble arrives. I have discovered a new truth this past year. 2019 was a year of health for me. I lost weight and began a strenuous exercise regiment. Some days while exercising, I have had the mistaken notion that all exercise does is prepare you to do more repetitions at the gym. Recently I was on a trip that involved a lot of walking and climbing stairs. In the midst of this, I noticed something: I was able to walk farther and not tire out as quickly as some of my travel companions. I saw the same while climbing the stairs, and then it hit me: I have not been going to the gym to get in shape, so I can continue to go to the gym. It is my regular trips to the gym that have enabled me to do the everyday things in my life. The same is true of our faith. We do not just participate in spiritual disciplines for the sake of training. The strengthening of our relationship with the Lord is the reservoir that we draw from during tough times.
None of us know what is in store for us in the New Year. I have discovered that life is about preparation. Whatever may be before us, we need to get ourselves ready starting today. This truth applies to all areas of our lives. If I want a better job, I need to start developing and enhancing specific skills. If I want to be healthy, I must adopt healthy habits. If I want to live a victorious Christian life, then I need to nurture my soul now.
I have seen a few heroes in the past few days. They are not championship athletes or millionaire entrepreneurs, they are women and men of faith who have had their faith tested and forged through the fire. They are the heroes that I aspire to emulate.

be the hero – isolated text in letterpress wood type
Wesley's Horse Newsletter

Wesley's Horse Newsletter

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