One day you're up, one day you're down. This Saturday night, I was certainly on the down side. As if that wasn't a kick in the stomach, somehow I went from Mammal to Bird in the ecosystem this weekend as well. I am de-evolving - a puddle of cyber slime. We all need a little humility lesson now and then. Trouble is, I seem to be one who is in constant "schooling" in this area. I got quite a lesson this weekend.
We did our budget Saturday night, or rather, our budget did us - talk about raining on your holiday parade. I decided, before we were heading out the door to go see "Chicken Little" with the kids... that we should at least pay a few bills first. We discovered that even with our huge scale-backs (apartment vs. house, no traveling and gasoline cut back since we're now living as one family and no-longer commuting, eating at home rather than eating out, etc.) that we are still going to be living on the razor's edge of "paycheck-to-paycheck" or worse. My sweet husband (who I don't deserve) brushed off my offers to get a seasonal job or a part time job and said that if need be, we would get rid of one of the vehicles instead.
We also got introduced at church as the new members this weekend. After my prayers to God over our finances the night before (and skipping the movie to save money) we were delighted to find that God was about the business of answering our prayers the very next morning at church services. The class, the worship service, the introduction as members, and even the people who came up to talk with us after church seemed to all have something from God to tell us. Before we even got off our pew, we were invited to a Dave Ramsey financial peace course starting in January. It was one of those "feeling like you are in the center of the universe" moments.
Even the beginning of the morning at church in our class was "geared towards us"... the teacher in our class was discussing how God used flawed and sinful people to work His will out in the past (Noah got drunk, Abraham lied and gave his wife to other men because he was afraid of being killed, Moses killed people... and David was an adulterous murderer!). The point was that even when you're sinful and a "BIG LOOSER" (like we've been feeling lately in our exile)... you can still be used by God and do His will.
If that wasn't enough, we got a great sermon in service that kept the lesson moving forward. I could almost feel God whispering, "This message is for you" in my ear as the preacher spoke. The sermon was about how trials and setbacks are going to happen to you that will shake your faith, (death of a loved one, financial collapse, loss of a job, death of a child, etc.) and during those times you need to keep moving forward in honesty with the Lord - to force yourself to do the things that will bring you closer to God. Our tendency (mine for sure) is to fall away and melt into the woodwork when life deals us these blows. The preacher said we need to PRAY even when we feel like God isn't listening, READ our Bible even when it's message rings hollow, FELLOWSHIP even when we would rather be alone, and GO TO CHURCH even when we would rather be anywhere else.
I have to admit that over this past year, as much as I have wanted in my heart to be close to God, it has been a really trying time for me. I have fallen away from my personal study time, Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance. It was easier to get overwhelmed and wrapped up in all the trails than to try and take control of them by prayer and fasting.
Speaking of prayer and fasting... I ran across a verse yesterday that I wanted to share....
In Mark 9, a father pleads with Jesus to heal his son who has been sick since birth with a demon who has made him mute and thrown him into convulsions. Jesus had given the power to cast out demons and heal to his apostles, yet they were unable to heal the boy. When the apostles asked Jesus privately why it was that they couldn't cast it out, he told them:
Mark 9:29 - And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
I think that some troubles and some lessons are so deep and hard that only a committed effort and bond with God will help you dig out of them. Maybe it is time for me to pray and fast.
In this same chapter, the father who is pleading for his son makes the mistake of expressing his doubt to Jesus that He could heal his son. "IF you can", he says. "If I can?" asks Jesus...
Then comes the moment of truth... "I DO BELIEVE. HELP ME IN MY UNBELIEF!" This is where all the talk is swept away, and the action starts. I can pretend I believe that God will fix things all day long. But when I empty my heart and honestly express my doubts to God, it is then that HE will go the extra mile to truly bring me out of my doubt and into His light.
I may not ever be "cool" again (and that's OK), but I will be on the other side of this test... and my Lord can make me stand victorious.