Bill Gaube was a faithful pastor in the CPD for many years. I actually first met him when I was planting a church in Evanston, Wyoming, and he was pastoring in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It has been a privilege to have known him now for over 35 years. He and Elise are now retired in Tucson, AZ.
Fighting Spiritual Amnesia
Familiarity not only breeds contempt, it also breeds amnesia. In my 70 years of walking with the Lord, he has shown Himself faithful more times than I can count. Yet it seems I so easily forget this.
It happened again when I retired and so many problems piled on us. We needed to move, which involved the hassle of selling our house and finding a new one. At the same time my wife developed health problems. Then we had to intervene with our son and his alcohol problem.
I cried, "Lord, enough already." Amnesia had set in.
When I walk for exercise, I listen to pod casts of various speakers. During that period I was listening to Dallas Willard. He brought many helpful insights to John 15:5 (NIV), "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
He showed how the vine/branch represents a living relationship with Christ that allows us to partake of his own personal life. Of course I believed that, after all this is the essence of our Alliance view of Sanctification.
Then the challenge came, “But do you really believe, that apart from Him you can do nothing?”
I had to admit self-sufficiency was crushing me. Maybe I'd better repent – turn around – and seek Christ-sufficiency. Willard made a helpful suggestion to find Christ-sufficiency: “Focus on having a growing relationship with Christ! This is more important than focusing on not sinning.”
It is true, that too often, we try to “not sin” in our own strength. Yet apart from Him we can do nothing. We forget the powerful relationship we have with God as shown in the vine/branch analogy. Challenged in my spirit, I asked God to help me focus on our vine/branch relationship.
At that time our son had a serious relapse in his alcohol problem. As despair started to rise I heard myself saying out loud: “Lord, since you are the vine and I am your branch, I rest in you.” A peace came over me and the thought came, you should get some prayer support. I contacted my neighbor who goes to our Church and asked for prayer. She promised she and her husband would pray. Then she also said, I know a strong Christian who has been dry 25 years. He loves to mentor and work with people like this. Would you like me to contact him? Within 20 minutes this person called me and began to give me encouragement, advice, and set up contact with my son. The upshot is that my son has been dry now for over 2 months and counting.
The Cure for Spiritual Amnesia
I now regularly appeal to the Lord as a withering branch who needs life from the vine. This has changed thought patterns, given peace and helped me be a more positive Christian influence. No, not everything is perfect, but the Lord has now given me Philippians 2:13 (NIV) “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” I can humbly rest in that.
Focusing on a growing relationship with Christ is a great way to cure amnesia of His faithfulness. It keeps our dependence on Christ and lets Him fill me more with Himself.
This has reminded me of the time AB Simpson took part in a debate on the topic of growing spiritually. At that time, it was popular to believe sin could be eradicated from your life so that it was no longer a problem. A strong competing view was that you had to work hard to suppress sin.
Two panelists had a heated debate about this. Finally, they turned and asked Simpson, “What do you believe, eradication or suppression?”
His answer was “I have a third view: Habitation. Christ in us to cleanse and empower our lives.”
Let us not have amnesia about His presence in our lives. His presence enabled the Apostle Paul to say, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6 (NIV).
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