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JENGA – WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART

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This post was originally written as an article: “Morehead, David. ‘Jenga – When Everything Falls Apart.’ No Ordinary Book. Eds. David C. Molina and M. Jean Bland, ED.D.: Urshan College, 2016. 42-45. Print.” 

Jenga Anyone? Jenga is one of the most popular games in the world, third only to Monopoly and Scrabble in the number of units sold [source: Little]. The object of the game is simple: You start with a stack of 54 blocks – three blocks across, 18 levels high. Each level of blocks should be perpendicular to the level below it. Each player must remove a block from near the bottom of the tower and place it on the top using only one hand at a time. Eventually the tower becomes dangerously unstable. If you’re the one who finally knocks it over, you lose.

This game is great! Excitement starts building each time someone makes a move. Things start out great, you have a plan of how you will win, then all of a sudden . . . Your plan comes crashing down. Kind of sounds like life doesn’t it? 

You start out strong by picking your favorite college, your childhood sweetheart chooses the same school and everything is going great. Until it comes crashing down. The “ONE” you felt you were going to do life with decides to choose a different life-one without you. School loans, payment on your first car and apartment derail your college plan. The collapse at times is even more drastic, parents divorce when you move out, or a family member dies.

The good news is that you are not the first person to have life take a piece from the foundation of your plan and make everything else come crashing down. David was a man whom, by his own doing and at times Divine Intervention, had his plan tore down continually, yet he continued to find ways to rebuild. After many rounds of failure and success, of being anointed King at a young age, being on the run from the current King, Saul, to being anointed King, David, through the inspiration of the Spirit gave us a strategy for dealing with life’s disappointments when he wrote in Psalms 23:1-3:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers states, “The verbs in these verses are not to be understood as futures, but as presents, describing the customary condition of the poet. The psalmist describes himself as one of Jehovah’s flock, safe under His care, absolved from all anxieties by the sense of this protection.” David is writing this in a present tense that God can give you rest and guidance RIGHT NOW. From this passage, lets observe the three foundational pieces that David is giving us as a guide to rebuild: 

FOUNDATION #1 — DISCIPLINE

Psalms 23:1 He MAKETH me to lie down in green pastures:

Charles Surgeon stated, “Within Psalms 23:2 are two elements of the Christian life, the contemplative (lie down in green pastures) and the active (LEADETH me), and both of these are richly provided for.” In this first foundation principle, we are going to focus on the contemplative nature of God’s plan for bringing healing to our lives.

In 2009 I was pastoring a church in Adrian, Michigan. I was also the youth Secretary of the state and had a baby girl on the way. I was in a season of life where everything was good, but at the same time everything in my life was being tested.  

On December 2nd 2009, I received a call that began four years of incredible pain. During that call I was informed that Justin, my 28-year-old brother, had just been shot and killed. He was on a city bus with a suspicious duffle bag. The police were called and when they approached, Justin brandished a weapon – a replica BB gun – and was shot three times. 

I was not given much time to grieve. Ten months later on October 20th, 2010 my grandmother, Junelle Kinsey Cunningham, passed away. At her graveside my Aunt Janet – mom’s sister – collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital fearing that she was experiencing trauma from the death of her mother. Once she was examined it was determined that she was full of cancer. Aunt Janet passed away seven months later on May 25th, 2011 at 52 years of age. 

The last piece fell for me ten months later on April 10th, 2012 when my father, Rev. RJ Morehead, called me and said that mom had some chest pains. He said it was nothing to worry about but that they were at the hospital running some tests. My mother, whom by all accounts, was healthy as could be, passed away 18 hours later, at 57 years old.

It is hard to express all the emotions that transpired during that time. By the time mother had passed, I was not longer pastoring, I had aged out of the youth department and ministry felt like it had come to a screeching halt. 

I am a doer. I’m from a long line of doers. However, during this time, I learned I was not being evaluated on how I could “do” but on how I could “wait.”

I learned I was not being evaluated on how I could “do” but on how I could “wait.”

TIPS FOR WAITING

GUARD YOUR HEART – You must be so very careful who you allow to have access to your life during times of waiting.  If you hang out with negative people during this season you will cultivate a negative aspect on life. Conversely, if you hang out with hopeful people you will exit this time armed with hope to forge ahead into your future. 

PREPARE YOUR MIND – Even though I didn’t have places to preach or lead, I started a detailed learning program preparing myself to lead. After nearly a year, my schedule became overwhelming and I was able to glean from my time of preparation. The truth is that you are usually not able to get ready when you need to be ready. The preparation comes BEFORE the promotion. My daily growth plan is as follows: 1) Prayer, 2) Bible Reading, 3) Supplemental Reading, 4) Writing 500 words per day, 5) Walk 5 miles a day. I encourage you to create your own daily plan to help you grow during this time.

ENGAGE YOUR HANDS – One of my life verses is Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever (willing hands) thy hand findeth (curious hands) to do, do it (active hands) with thy might (passionate hands).” When we are waiting for God’s next, we must still give Him our best!

John Waller wrote a song, “While I’m Waiting,” that has really ministered to me in the quiet times, “I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You, Lord, And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You, Lord, Though it is painful, But patiently, I will wait.” The song continues, “I will serve You while I’m waiting, I will worship while I’m waiting, while I’m waiting on You, Lord.”

FOUNDATION #2 — EDUCATION

Psalms 1:2 He LEADETH me beside the still waters.

The second step of bringing healing to our lives is the active nature of God’s plan. Pastor Paul Mooney once said, “A woodsman never wastes time when he stops to sharpen his ax.” We must view the quiet time as a time to grow. One thing I have learned is if I don’t master the lesson that God is teaching me in the wilderness the first time, He will either extend my stay or send me back!

TIPS TO G.R.O.W.

G.IVE TO OTHERS – During one very dry time in my life I was in a service and felt completely void of hope for my current situation. I felt the Lord clearly impress me to go pray for a specific person and give them a word of hope. I honestly wrestled with God on this direction. How can I encourage someone when I am so discouraged? After much prodding, I went and spoke what God and given me. The power of God began to flow greatly through this man. Soon God began to flow through me. Two days latter I received the breakthrough I had been praying for. However, it did not happen until I took the focus off myself and helped someone else!

R.EFLECT – I feel everyone should keep a life journal. Record your GLOWS – the amazing victory’s that come your way. Record your GROWS – the defeats that you can learn from. Record what God is teaching you. 

O.RDER YOUR LIFE – I was once told that you can’t fix a ship out at sea. You have to wait until you are back at port to really make major changes. This is a great opportunity to pick a new college major, really pray about what you’re looking for in a spouse. Save money to be able to purchase a car and create living arrangements without going into debt.

W.HAT’S NEXT – My motto for life is, “Over prepare then wing it!” When I was in college my motto was simply “wing it!” That did not work out well for me. I have learned that most of my quiet times was God giving me space to focus my life around His priorities. Of course once you prepare, you must be flexible to do whatever God asks of you. However, I also learned that you can’t just “wing it” and pray that God will rescue you! You must start preparing right now for what’s next in your life!

FOUNDATION #3 — HEALING

Psalms 23:3 He RESTORETH my soul:

Commentators have used many words to place the word “restoreth” into context. Words such as, revive, quicken, relieve, refresh, renew, sustain or to bring back. All of the words paint a beautiful picture of God bringing us full circle in our lives.

This four-year journey was very difficult on our family. However, slowly I began to see God restoring my soul. Here are the three phases of restoration that God preformed in me:

RESTORED FAMILY – On May 30th, 2015 I had the distinct privilege of officiating my father’s wedding to Sue Mahurin. After years of heartbreak I am seeing my father revived again. It is exciting to see the spark coming back into the Morehead family!

RESTORED SOUL – The most important part of the Jenga game is to have a firm foundation for the playing surface. This has been my greatest take-away through this process. My soul must be anchored in Christ alone. The area that has grown the most in me through this entire process is my daily devotion to My Shepherd.

RESTORED MINISTRY – The thing I have learned is God will restore us, but for He restores us to His making. God has accomplished so many incredible things through my ministry but it is nothing how I designed it. God will restore us, but He will also reshape us in the process.

CONCLUSION 

When I play Jenga I normally play the best of seven. That means you have to win four matches to be the winner, but you get three rematches to learn as you go. I have a learned that there are many Jenga versions of life. The goal is to keep playing the game to the best of your ability. Keep pulling pieces and as you do, watch for patterns to emulate the next time you play the game. I wish I could tell you that things will only fall apart once in life, unfortunately that has not been my experience. The pieces keep falling with loud crashing noises, but I continue to find the game exhilarating. Remember you have many more chances in life so keep playing the game with all the vigor God has given you!

Just for fun, find an old Jenga block and a sharpie marker and then find a place to reflect. On one side write your current “Jenga Situation.” On the second side write how God has you waiting and resting. On the third side, write what you are learning from this time of life. Finally, on the fourth side, write how you see God restoring you. Keep this block somewhere to remind you that you are still a work in progress that God is rebuilding you block at a time.

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Posted on April 10, 2017, in Individual Sermons, Ministry Monday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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