Editor: Rob Freshour is the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of South Lyon, Michigan.
When my son was twelve years old, he got my attention one Monday after school with an unusual question. He asked me, “Dad, what’s the biggest problem you have ever faced and how did you solve it?”
As any sane father should always do before blurting out whatever comes to mind, I responded to Joshua’s question with one of my own: “Why do you ask?”
“I need to interview someone and write about it for school tomorrow,” he responded.
Immediately, I began to make a mental short list of the biggest challenges I have faced so far. I processed my inventory and arranged the list in order of degree of difficulty. The degree of difficulty is directly proportional to the degree of despair and need for prayer each problem produced in me. I thought something like this:
- Tearing out our kitchen floor (Degree of Difficulty: 10).
- Maintaining some degree of civility and Christlikeness while tearing out our kitchen floor (Degree of Difficulty: 9.97).
- Resisting the urge to burn the house down while tearing out our kitchen floor (Degree of Difficulty: 9.925).
- Refraining from the desire to eat as comfort food the Oreo cookies my wife bought for my children’s lunches and snacks (Degree of Difficulty: 9.9).
- Muting my enthusiasm for Ohio State while my Michigan friends cope with disappointment and exchange national title hopes for Big Ten Championship aspirations (Degree of Difficulty: 9.875).
Okay. Maybe that’s not exactly the list I imagined when my son posed his question to me; although, I am certain the kitchen floor lurked in my subconscious. When my son asked about the biggest problem I had ever faced, my first thoughts were about relational challenges I meet every day, issues like these:
- How will I ever understand women – especially Donna, Lauryn, Bethany, Caitlyn … and my mom?
- How do I become the sort of man who can with integrity instruct and inspire my boys to become godly men?
- How can I lead each member of my family to love God with all their being, to love one another in the same way Jesus Christ loves us, and to love other people like themselves?
- How do I walk with God, truly walk the Talk or practice what I preach, in such a winsome way that will encourage and enable other people to walk with God?
- How do I ever hope to pastor our church to become what Father has called us to be and do – to make a total world impact to the glory of the Son in the advance of His Kingdom?
Intuitively, awareness crept to my consciousness of two realities:
First, even more than kitchen floors and Oreo cookies, these matters often bring me to a place of profound desperation and prayer.
Second, these musings were not the stuff Joshua needed right at that moment. This was a school project after all!
So, I mulled over personal challenges and problems I have wrestled with over the years. In a flash I recalled a host of big-time, life-altering decisions: What career path should I pursue? Should I go to college? Where? Could Donna be the one? Should we answer the call to this church or that? I thought about choices I had made – some good, some bad – and the consequences they brought into my life.
Suddenly, a fleeting moment of insight flashed across my mind. Every single challenge I have faced and each problem I have struggled to solve have shared the same common lineage. My biggest problem, I told my son, is my sin problem. The solution to my biggest problem – indeed, the solution of every challenge I have or ever will face – is found in the daily appropriation of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus Christ to my life. In every circumstance and decision, victory is realized only when I recognize I cannot solve this myself, I need help, and God extends that help to me in the person and provision of Jesus Christ. This is how my biggest problem was resolved, how my soul was saved, how my life continues to find meaning and purpose, and how I successfully meet the challenges every day presents – in Christ alone!