The hope that pushes me forward....

It is hard to believe another Summer is coming to an end and the Fall season approaches. It makes me sad how much faster time passes as I get older, and when I look back my first thought after reflection is, " I hope I never forget.." and simply linger in a moment of appreciation. I don't want to lose that sense of wonder, carefree and uninhibited youth that I once experienced. I'm approaching 42 and quite frankly I am so tired, so worn from how life has "handled" me. I feel like the last two years have aged me more than any other time in my life. The struggles Ryan and I have been through with jobs, in our marriage, in our spiritual life, have left us with some very deep, slow healing wounds. We know and have never lost belief in a God who has always been faithful, always provided, and will never let us down. I have struggled with trust in my husband, in God to restore what has been broken because of how hard it has been and how much He has allowed us to endure. I am still not certain of His purpose for so much of the loss we've experienced, and the only thing that enables me to move forward and not linger on it is the unwaivering truth that He has His reasons and knows best for me. I don't understand it, I don't agree with it, but at some point I let go of what control I think I have on my life and throw my hands up and say, "Okay, God, do something because I give up!" So I've been purposefully disconnected for awhile now to get focused, detox my heart, mind and soul and not have any distractions interfere with this process. I'm not done, and I know God is not done working on me, but I know where I stand for the moment. I've finding my way back slowly to trusting Him more fully, with our finances, with our marriage, with my unending need to be in control. I have had to face and I am still facing some "demons" from my younger years, the pressures I felt that I faced and had to endure. Combine that with what we've experienced in recent years, and I find myself waivering between quitting church altogether and the other extreme of cutting myself off from the world and checking myself into a monastery. I recognize the need for community in my walk with Christ, but I am so disappointed by how the body of Christ has behaved. I don't care about denomination, I don't care about what programs you offer and what you label it, and I don't care what kind of services you may or may not offer and when. All I care about is being in community with people who love God and want to impact the world for Him. It makes me sad to read and hear about churches that are struggling to survive, and I'm sorry to point it out to those of you who think the church is doing just fine-we are not and we have a lot of work to do. Two simple truths I've come across many times but are blaring like a news headline when I read another article about another church scandle, or another pastor let go, or another church closing its doors:

It's not about the building, it's about the people.

We don't come to church to be like other Christians, we come to be more like Christ!

There is a need in this day and age for every single one of us, Christ followers, to embrace the simple truth that is our faith: Love God, love others, and show the world who Jesus is! What is our priority? Strip everything you are doing away, let go of your opinions and expectations, and ask God what you need to do to plant the seeds and influence others for Christ. The packaging does not matter, the substance does.

I want to be a participant for change, and not simply go with the flow. If you find yourself struggling to be part of a church or one reason or another, then I encourage you to take time to be alone with God, immerse yourself in quiet meditation and find the peace that only God can provide. I am on that road, I am getting there. I have so much to learn, and I know I won't be nearly perfect until I am in His presence one day.

Scripture for reflection today:

Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...