The apostle Paul, looking back over his life, wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
As I look back on my own life, I can see the same pattern. Indeed, there is something to be learned from acceptance and rejection, riches and poverty, hardship and ease. It is the Lord who gives us strength through it all to learn and grow.
I was invited to speak at a campus chapel at UNCW. I drove down one afternoon and was met by my host along with a group of students, and we went to an early supper. The conversation centered around courtship. Afterwards, we went to the chapel where 200 students had gathered and I preached on how to love God. It was no surprise to me that a group of students wanted to go for pizza and more discussion when the meeting was dismissed. The late night conversation centered on how do we know the Bible is true.
When that meeting was over I retired to his apartment where I was guest for the night. He wanted to talk privately so we did until 1:30 in the morning. It was then that I pointed out the late hour and my need for some sleep. He stood up and called to his dog Jake, lying on the sofa, “Get up, Jake! Pastor needs the sofa.” The dog gave me the stink eye and ambled off into another room.
My host said to me, “The sofa is all yours.” I lay down on the sofa which smelled like a wet dog. The room was hot as the air conditioner was on the blink. I noticed a box fan in the corner of the room, so I aimed it at my sleeping place and turned it on. It blew the dog smell away.
Now it seems the dog was shedding badly. And the box fan blew his hairs across my face and they tickled.
Finally, I drifted off into a troubled sleep. The next morning came early and I awoke to dog hairs in my mouth, in my nose, in my eyes. “Nothing that a good hot shower won’t cure,” I said to myself. Turns out the shower was broken and not usable.
What can be learned from such a night? The joys of a good night’s sleep, how to be a good host, and what it is to live in poverty. I can laugh about it now and I can also tell you about the night I slept in an Egyptian princess’ palace overlooking the pyramids. But that’s another story. STEPHEN CROTTS