Hello! I hope that this Update finds you well and serving the Lord and one another wherever you are. As it turned out, the weather was actually quite nice on Sunday--in the midst of sub-zero days both last week and this coming week, I was able to walk around in my shirtsleeves on Sunday afternoon!
After the service, we had a great lunch together as a church family (I loves me my Italian soups!), and I spent a little time giving people a brief report on our Sabbatical time--what we did, what we didn’t do, what God was showing us during that time, etc. It was a joy to be able to share the joy that comes from being able to rest in the Lord. Some days, that’s easier to do than on other days, and I confess that ministry has its trying times that make it harder to find joy and rest sometimes. But it’s a great blessing to have been able to have the time to let God remind me that all of my plans, all of my concerns, all of my stressors, all of my accomplishments are ultimately contingent on His will and not on mine (or on my ability). It was a healthy reminder to stop and trust that God knows what He’s doing, and that we shouldn’t even tacitly try to press Him or His will into our tidy boxes and well-considered plans.
We chatted a bit about that in the message this week. As a church, we had the immense privilege of welcoming back Denise Bailey from the Women’s Pregnancy Center this week as part of our commemoration of our annual Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Not only did Denise share with us about the work of the Center, but she also shared from her own life what God has been showing her.
See, back in November, the Bailey family lost their home in the tornado that swept through the area. They went downstairs for shelter from the storm--and just seconds later, their home was destroyed. It was obviously devastating to them (Denise said that she couldn’t help but think, “But this sort of thing doesn’t happen to people, except on the news, right?”), but it was also oddly liberating. Their cars were destroyed, yet both she and her husband have had the vehicles that they’ve needed to continue their ministries. Their home was destroyed, yet they’ve never spent a night without a roof over their heads. Their stuff and clothes were destroyed, yet she’s actually found it helpful not to have to keep track of and clean so many things each week. They’d never have asked for this calamity, and yet, she had to agree with her neighbor who ran out of the rubble of her own house, asking with sincere gratitude, “Why does God love us so much...?”
One of the things that the Center does is to help women (and men) through the emotions that come with the ripple effects of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies--the fears, the frustrations, and the bitterness toward God and toward one another. It’s amazing how the tragedies that we pray will never happen to us are often the very things that God uses to help grow us to deeper and healthier levels.