On Tuesday night I watched a documentary clip about the lives of american families struggling with poverty. One family had enough money to live in a motel room but not enough to afford a motel room with a mini fridge. So the youngest child’s job was to go to the motel ice machine several times a day to refill their motel room bathroom sink with ice. That sink of ice was their makeshift fridge for milk and other perishables. The mother seemed emotionally absent as she was interviewed about their life. And then an ordinary, non-emotional point would cause her to cry. I cried too. I cried about her. About her dreams lost. About her children having to give up their beloved pet dog. About their daily struggle to have hope. And I cried with gratefulness. For everything.
The next day I went to our Bible study group. We are doing Francis Chan’s “Basics” study and this week’s topic was prayer. One of the questions asked us to consider what Jesus meant when He said to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The question said something like, “With our attentions focused on tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinners, we have no concern about what we will eat today…”
I don’t know what the rest of the question was. I got totally stuck on “…what we will eat today?”
I got stuck. I am stuck.
“I don’t know what we will eat today.” I blurted out. My heart was filled with stress of finances, our kids’ picky eating, my food restrictions, my daily medicines, my weekly treatments, our lack of vision for the future, my desperation to see my family and for them to meet our almost 2-year-old, our impending rent increase, our impending health insurance increase, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before. It’s been a really crazy four years.
A friend spoke up and questioned if we really were still struggling to pay for groceries. Her question is valid. I’m glad she spoke up. Truly, compared to the families in the documentary, we are not struggling. How could I so quickly forget what real poverty looks like? Problem is, although we are not in poverty, we are not thriving. We are not getting ahead. Our grocery budget doesn’t get us through the month. We are desperate to get off this hopeless hamster wheel.
I know, I’m harping on. Again. This is what I’m talking about. In this, I am emotionally stuck.
And lately it keeps popping up constantly. Over and over. It’s embarrassing. I can’t get past it. Stuck, stuck, stuck.
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As our group talked about trusting God for daily bread, I struggled. As I’ve shared before (oh so many times)… tor the past few years… and during my childhood… I experienced only having daily bread. One day at a time.
Some of the ladies shared that they felt it could be so peaceful to trust God for literal daily bread. That it could draw you closer to God. Having lived it recently and even living it still, I personally don’t find it peaceful. I shared that I don’t feel that it’s drawing me closer to God… I feel like it’s starting to build a wedge.
As the words came out of my mouth, I shocked myself. This is a big deal. This is not how I want to live. I trust Yahweh and I want every season of my life to draw me closer to Him.
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Last year I got to share my “journey in the wilderness” with our church family. Preparing that sermon was a very important process for me. Our Father worked deeply in my heart in the months and weeks before it.
Sermon prep always does that for me. It’s honestly one of my favorite things about our years as youth pastors. I had weekly inner-heart-surgery as I researched and prepared.
But last year’s sermon prep journey was more deep and painful than I’d experienced before. It involved humbling experiences with several groups of people. God used those around me to expose, speak-to, and eventually heal some issues I didn’t know were lurking in my heart. It was a time of pressure and testing and stretching.
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Did I mention that I’m prepping to preach twice in the next month?
One of those is for our church. We’re currently in a series on the book of Ruth. It’s not a book I’ve studied in-depth before so I’m starting from scratch in pursuing God’s heart for a message for our church family. Something keeps standing out to me about Naomi. There’s something about her that is intriguing to me. She has so many reasons to get stuck. And… (well, I can’t talk about it just yet.)
So here I am.
Preparing a sermon and having humbling experiences.
Yahweh is graciously showing me that I am stuck.
And here I am.
Getting unstuck, it seems.
I’m digging in Ruth and God is digging in my heart.
“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” (Song of Solomon 8:5)