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40 Days to Rearrange Priorities

By Joel Stover
Sometimes as men we completely lose our focus and our world can be turned upside down! Ironman Pro Staffer Joel Stover shares a very personal story about his journey of 40 days to get back in step with God!
Have you ever picked up your favorite deer rifle to check your scope only to find that you are "off target"? Not only are you "off target" but  your not even on the paper anymore. You haven't bumped it or dropped it, it is just simply not hitting where you are aiming. This is the story of the last 3 years of my life:

    The only way I can describe the last 3yrs. of my life is being in a "spiritual cave". Three years ago my life slowly started to unravel and things around me began to fail. Close friendships eroded, church issues arose, and stress at work spilled over into my home. Everything that once was right eventually turned into everything being wrong. Nothing seemed right anymore. On top of all this God appeared to be silent. The more I prayed and searched God's word, the harder things became. Under the stress of feeling cut off from my God, who loves and saved me, I broke down this past spring. One evening, while in my shop, I could not take anymore. I closed all the doors, sat down and cried out to God in one last attempt to try and make sense of this "cave" I was in. Through the pain, tears and brokenness, God spoke. He directed me back to His word. As I searched through God's word I noticed some of the events in the Bible dealt with the number 40. The story of Noah( rained 40 days & nights), Jesus tempted by the devil ( 40 days & nights), Elijah traveled into the desert (40 days & nights), just to name a few. But the one that grabbed my attention was the fact that Moses spent 40 days and nights alone with God on Mt. Sinai. When I read that, God took hold of me and said "Give me 40 days. Just you and I, alone for 40 days." I did not fully understand why but for the first time in 3 years I knew God had spoken. The following Sunday afternoon I took a walk in the woods behind my home, spent time alone and told God that I didn't understand why 40 days but I would follow his direction and commit the next 40 days to totally focus on Him. I removed as many secular things from my life as humanly possible. Just God, His word and anything that would keep my focus on Him. What has transpired out of those 40 days continues to be a total refocusing and realignment of every aspect of my life. Here are just 3 areas where God has showed me my life was "off target."

     First I had allowed idols into my life. Without warning, my love of the outdoors had almost consumed my life. Almost all my "free time" was focused on some aspect of the outdoors. When God showed me this I was very ashamed of myself. I had allowed an outlet for some of the stress in my life to actually take priority over my relationship with Christ. I have no idea how or when this happened, but it did. I had turned a blessing from God into an idol. The second idol was work, yes work!  Because of disobedience in my life God had changed my line of work. My heart's desire was to get back what I had lost. A heart focused on this world, not the eternal life to come. I had not meant for these areas of my life to take the place of my walk with God, but they had. God had been trying to get my attention for some time but I was to tied up in my world. 

    With these two idols revealed to me the second area where I was "off target" was exposed. I had missed a lot of opportunities to be an effective witness for Christ.  If fact, I was no witness at all. The anger and bitterness that had built up in me over the last 3 years was nothing less than a spiritual cancer that was eating away at the very joy of my salvation. God has started to realign my life in such a way that I see so many opportunities share Christ that it is amazing. It does not matter what form the opportunity may take, it could be in my immediate family, with friends or a total stranger. It could be at work, over lunch or over the phone. I have began tointentionally look for opportunities, no matter how big or small, to share Jesus, to speak a kind word, to ask how would Christ handle my day to day life.

    Finally a eye opening area that I never saw coming. Please understand what I am about to say. No one knows how much time God grants us here. But, if you look at statistics the average life  for a guy like me is some where between 75-80 years. I had just turned 45. This means, statistically speaking, I may only have 30-35 years left in this life. God asked me a question that I will never forget. If He does grant me another 30-35 years here, would I allow him to realign my life so that these last years could have the greatest impact for His Kingdom. Would I take past experiences and these 40 days to begin the final chapter of my life as a instrument totally willing to be used my Creator.  I do not know how many years God may give me, but I do know this. Time is fleeting and my days here are numbered. Soon I will be standing before a Holy God. What a shame it would be, after all this, to stand before Him knowing I was "off target."

    I know that I do not have all the answers. Honestly, I have very few answers and a boat load of questions. The journey out of my "spiritual cave" has just begun. But as Jesus called to Lazarus and said "Come forth",  He is calling to me to "Come forth."  Are you "off target" for Christ? My hope and prayer is that God will use these words to help "zero in" anyone who may have lost focus on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Offered for His Glory, not mine.


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