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Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice

Columnist Leo Endel says following Philippians 4:4 isn't always easy, and God will sometimes test you.

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"Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice." Philippians 4:4

As I type these words, I get a little superstitious. My wife says that when I preach this passage of Scripture, God puts our family to the test. While I don’t deny the truth that God occasionally tests us, I am grateful it is for our good.

In the early 1990s, my dad had to move his aging mom to Missouri. Someone needed to later go down to Texas, load what belongings needed to be kept and drive the truck back up to Missouri. Having some flexibility in my schedule, Sarah and I volunteered.

Sarah drove down to Missouri a few days before me, and I stayed to preach on Sunday morning and Sunday night. I was on the road by 8:45 p.m.

Just north of KCI (Kansas City’s airport), at 2:30 a.m., I missed the exit that would have looped to the west. In unfamiliar territory, I also missed the speed limit shift down to 55 MPH. Less than 100 yards into my mistake, suddenly flashing lights appeared, and I was pulled over and given a ticket. “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice” fluttered through my mind — only five hours after I’d taught from this passage.

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Sarah and I worked like rented mules getting the house ready. Just north of Dallas, we were stranded by our rental truck. Somehow, we had gas in a diesel truck, which cost us five hours and $250 to have the fuel removed and replaced. “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice.”

It was late and Lydia was less than 1 year old. She was tired. Sarah was driving our pickup and Lydia had been testing her lungs for hours. Sarah was frazzled and insisted we stop for the night, but we couldn’t find a hotel. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!”

We breathed a sigh of relief when we finally got to Missouri the next day. Bad luck seemed to continue when we had to unload the truck in the rain, but the fact that our ordeal was over made this inconvenience seem trivial. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”

We drove back to Lee’s Summit where I had left my car with Sarah’s sister. I soon found out that vandals had taken a baseball bat to my back window. I had no idea what that was going to cost. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”

As we drove into our driveway, there was one more surprise waiting for us. We had left our dog in the care of a young teenage neighbor. On our table was a note from her that she had chained Ichthus to the front porch and a boy had started throwing rocks at her. Uncharacteristically, Ichthus bit him. The bite barely broke the surface of his hand, but his parents notified the police and contacted their insurance company. “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice!”

Over the years I’ve reflected on that week. Lord, are you sure I needed all that to teach me this simple truth? Well, yes, I think I did. Even now, I often forget this powerful lesson when things go wrong, “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice!” It is much easier said than done.

Leo Endel is pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Rochester. He is also the executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, email us at life@postbulletin.com with "From the Pulpit" in the subject line.

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