Sundays are my favorite. Usually, wild horses can't keep me away from church on Sunday mornings. But last Sunday, I struggled to get out of bed. Sadness and unhealthy thoughts have been pressing down heavy on me for several days. When an extrovert starts isolating, you know something's not right.
I forced myself out the door. The deceiver went along for the ride bombarding me with all kinds of ugly accusations and dreadful forecasts about my future. I turned up my worship music full-blast and called out to God louder still.
"Help me, Lord. I'm fighting for my sanity here. Please help!"
I slipped into the kindergarten Sunday school room a few minutes late, grateful the students were even later than I, and I busied myself with helping Ms. Robin tell the story of David and Goliath. Again and again, we chanted our unit verse, "God is good to us" (Psalm 73:1).
The deceiver started shrinking back with each declaration.
My phone lit up with a text message from a dear friend.
"Will you be at church today?"
"I sure will. You ok?"
"Satan is punking me today, and I don't have the strength to go if I have to sit by myself."
"I'll be there."
Little did she know Satan was punking me, too.
Side-by-side, my shaky friend and I worshipped in our weakness. We let truth wash over us. We received His comfort.
After the worship music, Pastor Gary rose for what should have been a time of prayer. But the Holy Spirit wind blew the service in a different direction. Gary extended an invitation for us to come to Jesus. He invited the lost ones to be found. He invited the stray sheep to return to the fold. He invited distracted lovers to return to their first love.
Dozens of people came to the altar to pray, including me. I left the ugly truth and the ugly lies on the altar steps and returned to my seat lighter in spirit, refilled with hope, but still in pain because life is painful.
God wasn't done.
One of my sweet Bible study ladies slipped over to me and lavished me with love, empathy and a heart-felt prayer. The tears tumbled as I slumped in my seat and allowed Betty and the Holy Spirit to pray on my behalf.
God wasn't done.
Seconds after Betty returned to her place, another set of arms wrapped me tight. This time, it was a beautiful teenage girl I adore who's going through her own rough waters. She didn't say anything. Love like hers doesn't need words.
We sat there and watched as families and individuals streamed up to let Jesus be Jesus to them. Pastor Gary never got to preach his sermon. But hearts were touched and changed by Christ.
I'm so glad I didn't stay in bed this morning. What I needed most was found in my church building with the outdated, rust pews. That's where my church family was Jesus to me. That's where I got to be Jesus to others. That's where Jesus met me at the altar, received all my yuck, and replaced it with grace.
Lord, thank you for meeting me right in the middle of my need. Thank you for using me when I was feeling especially useless. Thank you for sending beautiful vessels, young and old, to be Your warm embrace. You always know just what to do. I love you. AMEN
Please enjoy this song by Cheri Keaggy and share in the comments about someone who has been Jesus to you? To whom can you be Jesus today?
Have you ever sensed something really bad is about to happen? Have you ever had dread spread so heavy on your heart that you can't seem to take a deep breath? Have you ever felt like you can't relax because you're waiting on the other shoe to drop?
The last time I felt this way was back when my family had a string of losses. Family members dropped like flies. Just when we'd catch our breath from one loss, someone else would die. It was horrible, and I did not handle it well. I turned to alcohol and food to soothe my frayed nerves. I sunk into a deep, debilitating depression. I became so self-focused that I couldn't see the people I loved most were hurting, too, and needed me to see them.
Years later, I see how my behavior then contributed to the death of my marriage.
Yet, here I am with that same sense of dread...my ears strained to hear the deafening crash of "the other shoe."
Here's the thing, friends. There's always another shoe. And guess what? It's probably going to drop.
Jesus said it Himself: "In this world, you will have trouble" (John 16:33 NIV).
But He doesn't stop there. Yes, trouble is a given in this broken world, but Jesus made a hope-filled declaration that still stands true. "Take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 NIV).
I refuse to let any more good things slip through my fingers because I was too distracted waiting on the other shoe to drop. Let it drop! I trust in Jesus Christ!
Is your fear of future trouble robbing you of joyful living today? Let's go to Jesus.
My heart is worn out from waiting for the other shoe to drop. I need Your help, Lord. Please replace my dread=filled speculations with joy-filled certainty.
Bad things will happen, Lord; this I know. But You are with me... ever leading, ever loving, ever lifting me up. "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
Help me to stop bracing myself for disaster and to start resting in the safety of Your arms.
I hear Your vow to me, and I choose to receive it in faith.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV).
Help me to stop wrestling with "what-if's" and to start reminding myself of "what is."
“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6 NLT).
"Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lordin the land of the living" (Psalm 116:7-9 NIV).
Help me to stop listening to lies and to start bellowing truth.
"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:21-26 NIV).
I choose to clothe myself with strength and dignity appropriate for my position as Your cherished child. I laugh at the days to come because I know Who You are and Whose I am. No matter how many shoes drop, they can't change that.