oh me of little faith

 Every once in a while, when going to church becomes a half-hearted act of obedience and doubt floods our thoughts, we get a big God hug that shakes us to the core. This was the case last Sunday, as I recorded the 21st of 24 scriptures to commit to memory for the year. I had approached the whole endeavor as I do most commitments. I tell myself “Anything is better than nothing.”  It’s no great wonder that I can’t find one Scripture to back up this philosophy.

I woke up Sunday, knowing my memory verse would be Isaiah 47:10.  Before the wedding, I had actually dreaded the day, worrying about so many things. Being “on” for a big crowd isn’t my favorite thing to do, and letting people see my anxiety is especially not fun for me. Because of this, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to my daughter’s wedding. However, after God saw me through with such Peace as only He can give, I knew my approach to the wedding (and most of life) was  filled with unbelief and fear. Afterward, when I came across this verse in my reading, I knew it was for me to claim.

As Sunday approached, I also became convicted that either I believed what Scripture said and let it change me, or my faith was just a hobby to fill my time. More and more, I realized that one of the biggest obstacles for me to rest in Christ is that I carry a negative, worrisome attitude. Sunday was the day to either let Isaiah 47:10 form the sturdy core of a belief system that would make me stronger in Christ or simply be a mental exercise in futility.

On the way to church and as I walked into the sanctuary and sat down, a wave of fear consumed me. As the music started, tight-clenching anxiety started its familiar progression. I felt the awkward catch in my throat, the inability to swallow, the subsequent shallow breaths and pounding heart. Every muscle tightened and my thoughts became  filled with doubt, I hardly can admit how low I sank. Satan had me by the neck, and I wasn’t doing a thing about it. Finally, a small, weak voice inside me started to sing, “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord…”

It was right in that moment that I looked up on the screen for the next words to the song, and right before my eyes were the words to Isaiah 47:10

“So do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right Hand.”

Now, you need to know that our church has never done that before that I know of, or since. One verse, right in the middle of a song, of all verses–my verse! Only seconds before, I had wondered if I was praying into thin air, if God, if He was God, cared. The next moment, I was swept into a flood of compassion–His compassion–for me.

Tears streamed as I sang, “You’re the defender of the weak. You comfort those in need…You lift us up on wings like eagles.”  My heart broke as I remembered my doubt, my fragile belief, and His most tender and personal mercies for me, a sinner, saved over and over, and again this day, by His everlasting Grace.

marked

“Our lives will never be the same again, but in a good way,” I was talking to Jean on the phone the other day and we agreed about her precious grandson, CJ. Never the same again, but in a good way. He changed many lives forever in marked ways that make us somehow a little more Christ-like for having known him. It is with no sadness for CJ that we know he has a new address in heaven and is healed now, thanks be to God. But in our own pain and loss, we really wanted it to end differently.
A little later today, I will take down the side banner that asked you to pray for CJ. I will never forget how CJ and his family’s faith encouraged a group of faithful prayer warriors, how His love poured from your hearts, how a picture of CJ with his hand reaching out toward heaven when he was just one day old touched my life.

He made me more grateful, and he made me more aware that life is sacred and each moment to be enjoyed. It is with an overflowing heart of love and sadness that I thank you, Jean, especially for sharing your love story with us, to be privileged to pray with you and to hopefully make your burden a little lighter. I love you so, my friend.

It still hurts, Lord. But all glory is yours in every event under heaven.
By Your Grace alone, Amen.

Much love to each of you,

Annette

Would you listen with me one more time to CJ’s song, and give thanks.