4-1-2017 God Never Gives Up On Us


April 1, 2017


I spent the Summer of 1967 in Alaska as a commercial fisherman. It all began about this time of that year that I sensed God’s call to ministry, specifically to Alaska. In the course of time, I shared that call with my Pastor. I also applied for and was accepted into Bible College in Grand Rapids. It was then that I discovered, for the first time, how God is always working in the lives of those around us to fulfill His plans.


Little did I know that God was working in a way I could have never imagined. While all this was taking place in my life, my Pastor’s brother-in-law and family was planning a summer long trip with a missionary friend to Lake Iliamna, in Alaska. I soon found out that I was invited along. The plan was to fly into Iliamna, travel by boat the 100 plus miles down the Kvichak River to Bristol Bay and commercial fish for several kinds of Salmon for the summer. To say I was excited was to understate my emotions. But the surprises were not over yet.


When I arrived at Iliamna that June, I was informed that the missionary had just finished building a 26 ft aluminum skiff with a cabin that was to be both my fishing boat and my home for the summer. He also laid out his strategy for sharing the gospel while we were docked at the cannery located near the mouth of the Naknek River upstream from the village of King Salmon. Sadly, from that point on life began to change for decades.


Fishing was poor, not much evangelism took place, I was isolated more than I had ever been before and home sickness began to grow. Don’t get me wrong, I had the time of my life. How many 17-year-olds from Michigan has an opportunity to drift net fish on Bristol Bay, see Beluga whales up close, and watch fur seals daily? It was an adventure that I can recall as vivid today as the day I experienced it. But Satan has a way of hitting the hardest when we’re celebrating our highest and our knees are exposed the greatest.


When I came home in late August I was disillusioned with my experience. I never showed up for Bible College that fall, took a job as a draftsman for a firm that designed power lines (which would last for 49 more years), made some extremely poor decisions concerning my life choices and stopped listening to the Spirit within me. For the next 9 years, my life would be absent (although not void) of God. I forced Him into a very distant, almost out of sight, position in my life. But He was not done with me and refused to accept the distant I attempted to place between us.


Today, as I write this, I can say that I am so thankful that God does not write us off. I know that as fact because of firsthand, personal experience. God is a God of renewal and restoration and for that I have committed that I will never walk away from Him again. You see, despite my selfishness, God displayed what He impressed Paul to share with the Romans…


Romans 11:29 (NASB)
29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.


Folks, sadly, we all have times when we turn our backs on God, stop listening, demand our own way. But always remember… God’s call never ceases.


Some, like me, have walked away for years. We know from experience how powerful the absence (not void) of God can be at those times. We also know how amazing it is that God never gives up. Because we know what true repentance accomplishes. We know because we have experienced both grace and mercy. We know because God renews and restores. Never allow anyone, man or Satan, to convince you that you are no longer “useful” to God. GOD IS A GOD OF RESTORATION!!


Psalm 51:10 (NASB)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.


Thank You for your faithfulness! Pastor Larry