Hi there! Me again. It’s been 3 months since my last blog. I am ashamed of that but I’m back and starting again. I think I have had lots of thoughts and ideas for posts in the last three months, but I haven’t allowed myself to sit long enough and make them happen. But then today, something that I said to Brian after lunch kind of collided with a few things that Pastor David spoke about in his sermon this morning and I knew I needed to explore them here.
Brian’s dad, Dennie Suman, is battling cancer. He has been for a few years, but about a year ago it was “under control” and he was on monthly “maintenance” treatments. Recently it has begun growing again, and now the doctors are finding new tumors. He is rapidly losing weight and honestly, things do not look good. It’s sad to watch. Brian was moved to go spend some time with his daddy and really ask him where he stood with the Lord. He was able to pray with Dennie, and invited him to church today. I’ll admit I was a little surprised when I turned the corner this morning and found he and Pat (his longtime “girlfriend”) in the lobby. I had feared that he would just be too tired to get up and out the door for church – but he made it! I did my best not to let the shock of his sunken face and dramatic weight loss show on my face. I was thrilled they were there to worship with us.
Pastor David continued his series entitled “Who We Are” and spoke of how the world views us as Christians. Are we a people who would walk to the other side of the road and right past someone in need? Or do we stop and help people out of their ditches and love on them and let them see Jesus in us. (Okay…there was much more to his sermon – this is what really resonated with me). Are we, as Christians, telling people what they need or are we showing people Jesus in our actions and in our lives?
So – here is where these two parts of my world came together today. After having lunch and a tearful, tough goodbye to Dennie and Pat, Brian and I quietly came home – both kind of fighting tears (he may not admit that). I told him that I just feel helpless and that we need to do something for his dad and Pat. Maybe I could cook some dinners, maybe we could go do yard work or clean their house. Whatever!?!? I just felt like we needed to DO something. But why? Of course any or all of those things would be nice things to do – and I’m sure they would be appreciated and helpful to them. But those things were really about me. Why did I feel the need to just do and do and do? I guess because I don’t know what else there is…If I could run out and find a cure for this horrible disease, I would certainly do that. But I don’t know what else to do! And then I was reminded of this morning’s sermon…maybe I don’t need to necessarily DO….maybe I need to show. Perhaps what Dennie and Pat need the most right now is to be shown the love of Jesus. Maybe they need to see Him in the midst of our prayers and tears. Should we be showing them our belief that if it’s God’s will that he will heal Dennie. Can we show them God’s love for them through us in a prayer-filled visit?
As these words flow through me to this screen, I’m thinking – well isn’t helping them with daily chores a way of showing them Jesus? Can’t we be the hands and feet of Jesus through small acts of service? Yes – those are ways of showing love – but what if what they need is more than simple chores done around their house! To me that is showing – and doing out of love. But I think that sometimes there is more. Can we show them our faith through this storm by not wavering and by leaning in to God through these scary times? We can show them our worship and praise to a God whom we KNOW is bigger than any of this on earth. I believe that if we really need to DO something for them at this point, it should be by SHOWing them that we believe in our heavenly father and will follow him and trust in him to make all things good, so that he may be glorified.
Yesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.
Today is my first day of summer break. Going to bed last night was so nice. I wasn’t worrying about lesson plans, or meetings, or tests. I was only worried about what I would be doing with my first day off. However, my alarm was still set or the same time as always…4:20am. Why? Everyday that Brian and I have been married, we have made it part of our daily routine to start our day with God. We spend time drinking coffee, reading our daily devotional, and then jumping into the Word. This is a non-negotiable for us. Now, please know that I am not tooting my own horn, or patting us on the backs. I’m really just trying to share how this time in the Word has completely changed my heart, my mind. my relationship. and my life. It is not enough to rely on the hour a week in church to be your time studying or learning. Our walk with God requires that we spend time with Him in His word every day. Jesus says in John 8:31 “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.” Jesus’ teachings are so plentiful and numerous and there is so much to be learned from the many parables He taught. But we must “remain” in the Word. The word remain shows up over and over in the Bible, especially in the book of John. In chapter 15 Jesus uses the image of a vine and the branches. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” So not only do we spend time or “stay” in the word, but we are to “remain” in Jesus! And the most amazing and reassuring promise, if we dwell, or abide, or stay in Him…He will dwell, abide, and stay in us. It’s such a comforting thought to know that Jesus will dwell in us. We can dwell in Him in many ways. Prayer, study, reading His word, surrounding ourselves with people who are like-minded and who will build us up and encourage us. And our lives will show that He is in us. “Those who remain in me and I in them will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). For me, I know that as I spend time with Jesus in the early hours of the morning, He is in me and I am in Him…and the peace that comes from that time, is well worth the sacrifice of a little sleep.
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned…maybe a little old school. I will readily admit that I am probably both, but is that a bad thing necessarily? As I sit and reflect on the holiness of this day, and I celebrate all that Jesus did for me, I am in awe of the story I’ve heard all of my life. It is amazing to me that Jesus, the son of God, became sin on that cross, so that I could be free. And even more amazing is that he was raised from the dead to fulfill God’s plan for my salvation. The enormity of those events bring me to my knees. It makes me wonder why people need more than that. Why the need for “entertainment”? Isn’t the message powerful enough to stand on its own? Do we need coffee and donuts and props and theatrics to be effective? The message of Christ crucified – Christ resurrected is bigger than any event in human history. It seems nothing we do to try and make it “cooler” or more exciting or more meaningful will ever come close to doing it justice. Christ died for us. Christ rose from the dead for us. That is more than our human minds can comprehend…shouldn’t it be enough for us?