This time last year was tough. Probably the toughest we’ve faced as a family. Thankfully, some of the circumstances are better but, sadly some have gotten worse. I am reminded of Joseph. His brothers meant to harm him but they could not know God’s sovereign plan. When the brothers are reunited Joseph tells them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today.” No, I don’t believe the circumstances we find ourselves in are or were an intentional act to harm us. Harming us (and others) has only been a natural consequence of sinful actions and unrepentant sin.
I actually know very little of what has happened at our former church in the recent months and unless there is true repentance, that’s the way I want it. I have no desire to know and I have no desire for them to know about what’s going on in my life. I saw the man they call pastor’s country estate for sale and a contract pending on realtor.com a few months ago. It’s no longer there so I assume it has been sold. I have been told that several have left that place of worship. Praise God! I pray that each of them will find, or have found a Gospel centered family. I continue to pray for those that are still there.
This past year has brought a lot of surrender but it’s also brought blessings and healing. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. Sometimes it does. Especially when I think about the relationships that will never be restored, the blog I wrote for so many years, the mean ugly ways we’ve been treated. But out of the pain has come gold. God has brought good out of the ugly. While others flounder, we have been forced to run to Jesus. We have been forced to hold tight to what we have; each other. I believe our family overall is stronger in spite of everything we’ve been through.
We have been greatly blessed in the middle of the pain! I can’t count the ways. Most of all, we are blessed that God led us almost immediately to a church family that doesn’t do fake. A pastor that preaches the Gospel and leaders that shepherd the flock. Shane is teaching a class on Advent this month and working with the youth. What a JOY that is because I wasn’t sure I’d ever see him teach again! We are blessed with a church and a Pastor that wants to be held accountable. We are making new friends and developing new relationships with people that saw us at our worst and loved us in spite of the trepidation, panic and pain they saw in our eyes a year ago. We are blessed with friends and family near and far that love us. Our children are thriving! They are growing and learning and God is blessing them greatly! Mostly, we are blessed because we have a gracious, loving savior that carried us when we didn’t have the energy or desire to walk through the desert.
This doesn’t mean the struggle is over. Struggle is a part of the Christian life. Just last week Shane was harshly reprimanded for a decision he made. Somehow the one that reprimanded thinks their ugly and hateful words are going to make us obey them instead of Jesus Christ. The truth is, I lost a night of sleep dwelling on things I shouldn’t have. Thankfully God reminded me rather quickly that this is all a part of his plan even though I don’t understand it. Once again, God reminded me that my job is to keep my eyes on Jesus and trust him completely; not to be angry at how myself and/or my family is treated.
This past year I have come to realize my brokenness and my need for the Savior even more than ever. I am nothing without him. I can’t make myself a little god and demand my own way. I can’t wave a magic wand and fix all the wrongs. Sadly, barring a miracle, it’s all beyond sitting down and having a civil conversation together. There’s no room for agreeing to disagree and loving in spite of the differences. But I can trust that God has his perfect, sovereign plan. Do I understand it? No way! But I can trust Him. I can trust the Sovereign of the Universe.
I’ve surrendered much but this past year but I’ve also gained much. Our family (innocent bystanders) was forced to surrender much also. But praise be to my Heavenly Father! He has been so good to us in the middle of the storm.
I think of the chorus to Laura Story’s song Blessings
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
The blessings this year have come in unexpected ways. Would I want to do it again? No way! Would I do it again if God asked? You better believe it! Obeying God rather than man is always the best way, even when it hurts.
Below is a Facebook post I made a year ago today.
Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean we live as we desire; for without the power of the Holy Spirit in us we will live as the world lives. But when we live for Christ, in his grace, his mercy and his love, we are free from the troubles of this world.
And this is the battle, for what we desire to do we cannot do as we press on toward the prize that is absolutely unattainable until heaven.
When our desire is to live for the Lord instead of for our selfish gain, our conscience will be pricked our souls will be pierced when we sin. We will desire repentance. We will desire to be changed. When we chose a sinful lifestyle, we become blind to the sin. We no longer desire repentance and restoration. And we become our own god.
There are many situations around me where the desire seems to be selfish gain. Hearts appear hard, the flesh appears to be winning! But as heart breaking as these situations are, they belong to you Lord Jesus. I may be devastated over some of them, but YOU Lord have your perfect plan. Your ways are so much higher than mine and I can trust you!
We are sojourners, pilgrims in a land that is not our home. Oh Lord I long for home. And yet I fear this world will get much uglier before that day comes. Lord give those that are yours the strength to rest in you until that glorious day!