As a part of our church teaching team, I preach about twice a year. Our Pastor would like me to preach more but he is graciously supporting my personal journey as I wrestle with the issue of whether women can be teaching “in the assembly.” (It’s a big deal issue that is worth talking about. But let’s save it for another day.)
My next preaching date is in August. This summer we are doing a series on devotionals and the sermons are using the daily readings that our church family is reading together. So, I’ll be preaching from the passages we have all read that week. Old Testament: Psalm 109 – 115. New Testament: Acts 13:1 – Acts 16:40. (Confession: I deliberately didn’t take the “Acts” or “Psalms” classes in Bible college. Neither are Books I am passionate about. Blurgh. But I know God is passionate about them so I have great expectations.)
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For the past few months it’s been popping into my mind. Reminders of the pain. Twinges of regret. Humble gratefulness for His mercy and grace.
I’ve been remembering a time when I failed terribly. Honestly, it could be the most regrettable season of my life. Lately I’ve been remembering and wrestling with it all over again. It’s a roller coaster I hate to ride but do.
I have big faith to walk boldly in trusting my good loving God. I embrace the challenge to dare to believe He has good things for my life. Then I am hit with a storm. In that moment it’s like I’m a different person. This passionate daughter of God lashes out with huge questions. “GOD?! What is this?! Where are you?!”
The doctor’s words were cold and painful. Our new baby needed surgery. It was a surgery that may or may not be successful. It was not life threatening but it was life affecting. I was in shock.
I was so sad at God. The womb is His domain! He is the one that knits us together in our mother’s wombs! Of all things in this world, babies should be the most perfect. They should be glowing with the presence of God. Shouldn’t they?!
A blanket of depression wrapped my heart. I unwittingly invested my time in grieving instead of living.
I am firm in this belief: My God is a good and loving God. I also know that my version of “good” is tainted by the human survival instinct that drives me to pursue comfort and run from pain. But, in my experience and from what I see in the Word, God’s version of good often involves pain.
But, despite the desire I have to be fully surrendered to our glorious and wonderful Abba Yahweh, I have regrettable fair-weather trust. I am so strong in trusting God in certain seasons. I am so petulant, ungrateful, and questioning in other seasons. It hurts my heart to say this but I feel more like Job’s wife than Job.
His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:9-10
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Years later, I look back at that depression and I’m so grateful that God is not angered by me. His Word is full of promises about his patience and unfailing love and unending forgiveness. But I wish I had been a better version of myself. I wish I had reacted with faith not accusation. I do not want to react that way ever again.
The past months have been a good test. The Lyme battle has really stretched and tested my attitude. I also daily have to choose throw off the deep sadness I feel being so far from my family. And I’ve mostly not reacted to the many other trivial things of life that can get us all down. Yes, I’m getting better at this. Ahh maturity is grand.
Then: BAM. Last week a blow came that knocked me over a la “rogue wave”. I have a wonderful part-time job that is helping to pay for my treatment. Last week it seemed to be suddenly over. Bam.
I immediately crumbled into a mess. Shocked. Crying. Questioning God’s hand and His goodness. How will we pay for my treatment?! How sick will I get when the bacteria gets full rights to my body again? (Have you noticed I’m a little dramatic?) Oh man. I am embarrassed.
I was working on my sermon that day as I have been every day. Re-reading the passages and praying for God to give me His message for our church family.
My heart was thrown on the operating table and God’s Word was my surgeon.
Praise the LORD! How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. Who can forget the wonders he performs? How gracious and merciful is our LORD! He gives food to those who trust him; he always remembers his covenant. All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has! Reverence for the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. Praise his name forever! Psalm 111 (portions)
Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD. When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Such people will not be overcome by evil circumstances. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. Psalm 112 (portions)
Isn’t this so how God works in our lives? You see an issue that needs to be healed and you walk through a season of discipleship / discipline towards freedom. And then it settles down for a while and it might even seem totally resolved. Then, like an onion, another layer starts to peel. And you realize, God has been working on this issue for years and years, layer by layer. And there are many layers still to go.
The truth about me is I am a woman of deep faith and trust in God. Years ago a dear friend gave me a little statue of a sparrow as a thank you for my life example of “sparrow faith.” (Matt 10:28-31). That little sparrow sits on my counter as a daily reminder that trusting God is a strength He has been crafting in me my whole life. I know that He is equipping me for my calling in His Kingdom plans. And I need to be okay that there are still layers to go.
The goodness of God is seen in the fact that He will not leave me in bondage to fear. He will lead me to freedom.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. (Proverbs 31:25)
How are you? What are the “onion layers” in your journey? How do you find hope and joy in the transformation God is orchestrating in your life?
Want to read through the Bible with me? Today’s readings are Psalm 84; John 19:1-42