Last Sunday, I had one of those "God moments". You know the kind where you are listening to the Pastor and you are like "yes! That's it! YES!" and then writing furiously on your bulletin to fill the pages?
I haven't had one of those in a long long time. I'd guess to say at least two years. Not because I haven't heard worthy sermons that were full of God's message. It wasn't because God wasn't speaking, or trying to get through it me. I have been hurting and sad so often, and church has been a place where it feels the most raw, even on good days. I have sat through amazing worship times and wonder if I'll ever feel the joy of worshipping again or wondering if it will always be tinted with pain of Ella not being here with me.
Last Sunday started with some great worship time. The songs weren't too familiar to me but the attitude and spirit of worship in the sanctuary was powerful. It was hard, if not impossible to not feel God being glorified and honored there. Then the pastor spoke. His message was short as he was leading into the vision for the next two years of the church, but he talked about our own vision and focus.
In order to move forward and see what God has in store for us (our family, our future, etc)the pastor shared that we must not let our hurt get in the way of our hope. Now, I may have heard this many times before. I know I have. I am sure I've heard it since Ella was born, but it was the right time and place because I completely felt God speak to my heart that this was for me. I would have told you before this that I was doing well. Fifteen months from the birth and death of Ella, I'm doing alright. Thanks to my amazing family, supportive husband, many praying souls, some sound counseling, and our loving God, I am here, and the pain isn't so raw and hard.
But hearing this message made me realize that I had a big step to take with my grief. I have been holding back. I've been hanging on to my pain and letting it keep me from moving forward. I don't mean physically or socially, but spiritually. I've been avoiding Bible study, even praying to God other than short prayers for others or with my kids. God wants more from me than that. He wants ALL of me. I haven't felt like I was ready to serve again in ministry and have expressed that to others, that I was focusing on healing. (And a time of rest and stepping back is ok! There is most definitely a season to do that in all our lives).
But I think that the Lord was telling me last Sunday, that my time of quiet, and rest is over. We all have pain. It can be from a death, from a loved one hurting us, or from things in our past. Being hurt is hard. Let's be honest. It sucks. But God doesn't want us to stay in our pain. Phillippians 3:13 talks about moving ahead and forgetting what is behind us. While I won't ever "forget" what has happened, I can most definitely move forward.
Isaiah 43:18-19 "but forget all that- It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See? I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."
This verse was part of the message and on that Sunday morning. I "saw" it. I feel a great sense of freedom and excitement after last Sunday. I know that I need to step it up and focus on what the Lord has in store for me, for my family in the coming future. I know that in the midst of the grief of losing a loved one, God can work and move and that he can use me and our Ella to help others. I am looking forward to seeing how He choses to do it and am praying that He will open doors to show me where to step in and serve and help.
And just because there aren't enough opportunities to share her pretty face. :)