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J.R. Bucklew

Follower of Christ - Husband of Feven - Father of Maraki - Non-profit Leader - Deaf Ministry Strategist - Visionary - Innovator

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When flying an airplane, unlike driving a car, having a set course is very important in reaching your destination. There are no skyway signs that tell you which path you are on. There are no key land markers to rely on along the journey. You are in the air and are entirely dependent on your instruments to ensure that you are on course to your destination.

However, what happens if along the journey you end up veering off-course by a degree or two? Initially, you might not notice the problem at all. I mean, 1 to 2 degrees is not that big of a deal. It is barely noticeable at the beginning. But! Fly around the world, and then you will see how far off course that small change has taken you.

Let us say you were to travel from Washington, DC, around the globe back to Washington, DC. If you were off-course by 1 degree, you would miss your landing in Washington, DC, by 435 miles causing you to land in Boston. That is way off from where you intended to be. Again, it is not something that would have been visibly noticeable in the beginning, but certainly noticeable upon landing.

What if we were to apply this same concept to our spiritual lives? Small changes in the wrong direction may not be very noticeable at first but give it time, fly around the globe, and you will land in a place that is way off from where you wanted to be.

I know this was true for me!

In September of 2019, I was at a conference in Oklahoma City, where I experienced the convergence of Word (The Bible) and Spirit (The Holy One). Through this experience, via the preaching of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit broke me into pieces. He showed me that I had gotten off-course by a few degrees, and what a scary revelation that was for me! The Lord found the hidden things of my heart and brought those to light. I knew what I had to do.

You see, leading up to this time (looking back), I had not had a personal quiet time (reading scripture, prayer, worship) in probably nine months. Of course, I attended staff Bible studies at Deaf Bible Society, studied scripture to prepare for a presentation or talk, prayed before meetings with colleagues, and more. But a quiet time between the Lord and me for the sole purpose of my relationship with Him had suffered tremendously.

Honestly, this had been a reality in my life for quite a long time. I allowed my work and my goals to become an idol in my heart. Naturally, when you replace the Lord with something else (no matter how good it seems to you) on the throne of your heart, you have now gone off-course. When you are off course, you will end up in a place you didn’t intend on being, nor did you want to be there.

I found myself mentioned in scripture. I felt that I had become one of the people Paul spoke about in Romans chapter 1. Here I’ll show you.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:21-23

You see, I knew the truths of God but didn’t acknowledge the truths of my soul in lacking to honor and thank Him personally. I knew the value of His Word being made available to all people but didn’t acknowledge the truth that I had replaced him and the glory due to him with the things I thought I had built. My foolish heart had then been darkened.

I knew I had to confront this reality. I needed to step back, seek Jesus, and find the taproot lies and sins in my heart that needed to be rooted out. I needed to allow the Lord to work on me rather than me trying to work on Him. This conclusion led me to engage my board of directors at the Deaf Bible Society. We wanted to find a pathway forward that would allow me to step back and seek the Lord and see what He wanted to do in my heart and life. At the same time, find a way that Deaf Bible Society (who I love so dearly and passionately) could move forward with strength in serving the Bibleless Deaf communities of the world.

We agreed. I should step out of the role as CEO and into the role of “silver” that needed to be refined by the Lord, as mentioned in Malachi 3. This was a hard but necessary transition for me. However, it was undoubtedly the feeling as John Mellencamp sang, “It hurts so good.” Not to equate the work of the Lord in my life with some mediocre song from the ’80s. Still, the refiner’s fire was and is painful, but the results are something to be desired. Allowing him to work on my heart has been one of the most refreshing seasons of my life.

Now what?

I was at a conference recently where Grammy award-winning artist Lecrae was speaking from the stage. He shared that for a long time, he was attempting to operate as a speedboat. The problem was he eventually ran out of gas, and the little speedboat was not worth more than a raft on the seas being tossed back and forth by the waves. The Lord wanted him to be more like a sailboat. He recognized that we as believers would still have work to do and that when we do it, and the wind begins to blow, it will take us as far as it wants. We know that the wind blows where it wishes, as stated in John 3. The Lord intends to redeem and wants to carry us where he wants us to go.

So, I have entered a season of saying, “Ok Lord. I see you! Where do you want me to go?” There is nothing more satisfying and comforting than giving your burdens to him and walking with him daily. There will continue to be waves that crash against our boats and look scary and life-threatening. Still, we can trust that the same word that those waves were created by is the same one that can calm the seas, and is the same Lord that is there to pull us out of the water when we lose sight of him and focus on the storm around us. He is faithful! He is just!

Friend, trust in him, follow him and get back on course.

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