It is Sunday night and I am sitting here thanking God for all the blessings that have come down from heaven this week. At the beginning of last week I sat with a dying man and held his hand. Words were few, prayers were many. My emotions were caught somewhere between my throat and my heart. I found myself pondering eternity more than usual, wondering what I would say at this man’s funeral. I knew God would have to do it because I certainly couldn’t do anything under my own power.
Being new at this thing called “ pastoring” brings many challenges and if I were doing this for myself I would have quit a long time ago. But since I am called by God and do it for my Creator I fall to my knees and pray my guts out. He always answers in POWER and in STRENGTH and there is a reason that PHILIPPIANS 4:13 is my GO TO VERSE. I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. I have truly discovered that He who is IN me is greater than me. I ask God to INCREASE as I decrease and disappear. It is not easy, however it is worth every struggle, every tear, every drop of sweat and every prayer. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else with this much passion. The things I am challenged with often wind up on my canvas in a myriad of colors. I can choose to look at the darkness of life or the brightness of the Kingdom. I choose the latter. There was once a time when I didn’t how to see the light.
I recently had a conversation with someone who was frustrated at people who couldn’t see God. It made them angry because they couldn’t understand why people can’t see what is really important in the world. Part of my passion is to help others see what is often invisible. Making God visible requires a lot of love, patience, time, truth, repetition and grace. God didn’t just tell us once and then say , “ Oh they didn’t get it, so sad, too bad….they’re done.” The bible is full of stories that point us to truth, hope, life and light. They are the same stories being told today-just in a different era and with different people. God has not quit on us and we shouldn’t quit on him or others. Sometimes we may have to step back from a situation and let someone else do their part, but when that happens we continue to pray-but we never give up. My advice for my young friend was for them to find a way to take the anger and turn it into passion for God. To ask God how to help those who can’t see Him. He always answers, but we have to ask first.
This has been a week of struggles, strains, and challenges for this pastor. I felt like I had been placed in a slingshot and let go into the wild blue yonder-not knowing where I was going to wind up-inside out, upside down or like a flailing fish out of the water, gasping for air. I reminded myself that for someone with nothing ( education from a book vs on the job training ) that I was totally relying on God and you know what? God got me through it. How? First off with PRAYER. Second: I am blessed with a wonderful support system. God has given me a family who supports everything I do in His Name. My husband is a great encourager and my kids text me and tell me “I can do it.” My parents support me from afar with phone calls, FB messages and emails. My sister calls and tells me how proud she is of me for following God and I have an awesome church family who are wonderful encouragers and are filled with love for each other and their community. I also have this whole flock of friends who live near and far and call me or message me at just the right moments with words of encouragement and heartfelt prayers. I have pastor friends who offer their support by being there or by lifting me up in prayer. We need each other. This is the Kingdom of God at work in the world. This is the world that I choose to see and this is the world that I am passionate about showing to others.
Yesterday I preached my first funeral. It was tough. I knew I had to be the strong one and God came through as He always does. I thought about all those eyes and ears that were looking and listening for a word of hope from me. I was momentarily overwhelmed with the weight of what I had to do, but the Holy Spirit rose up and took over. I don’t think I did anything very well, but I did what God asked me to do and that was to serve mercy and grace.
Serving requires trust and action. Put the two together and you get faith. Sometimes when we move in faith we feel blind. That’s when we allow the Holy Spirit to take over and we begin to see things through spiritual eyes. I can say that my spiritual eyes are open a bit wider now than they were a week ago. I saw love in ways that I never have before and for that I am most grateful to God. I asked the question on FB last night, “ are we living to die or are we dying to live?” Everyday I ask God to create in me a clean heart. For me that means dying to self. This calling has to be done selflessly or you just can’t do it. I’m still learning how.
A shepherd loves his flock-each and every one. A shepherd stays with the flock, tends, feeds, nurtures and cares for their wounds. A shepherd watches over what God has given them to care for with great passion and when one gets lost they go find it.
God sent Jesus, our great Shepherd, to find us and for this I am eternally grateful, joyous, and waiting with an expectant heart for THY Kingdom to come. It is coming little by little through those who understand that we must be about the business of the Father and be committed to tending the flock at all costs and under all circumstances. It cannot be done without the help of the Great Shepherd himself.
Tonight I am thankful for being found and for being called to serve alongside so many of you who give so selflessly of yourselves. Thank you for being there, thank you for helping this flailing fish breath and thank you for following in the footsteps of our Living God.
In His Mighty and Great Name-I am humbled.
Thank you and may God bless your every word, deed, action, thought and act of kindness. May he fill your storehouses with His treasures and may your hearts explode with a fiery love for Him. May you be refilled, renewed, revived and replenished and may you make the invisible God VISIBLE to all of mankind in everything that you do.
Let us walk together in the footsteps of our strong Jesus…