I love my church. It’s like medicine for my soul. I get bruised up a lot during the week. I go to church to heal. Maybe you wouldn’t know I was healing if you looked over at me. Because usually I’m crying. But, crying is the way I heal. It’s this great, frustratingly necessary release.
It’s funny though because it’s really hard for us to get to church. At least, it’s hard for us to get to church at a reasonable time. Brent and I had a spat about this on the way to church. Which means that we got to church but we arrived there frowning and ready to cuss. We’ve learned by now just to go there anyways. And we’re learning that we don’t have to pretend like everything is okay once we get there. But usually just seeing our other struggling-along friends that somehow managed to make it there, too, somehow cheers us up. Besides, Brent and I are usually friends again by the time the singing is over. There’s no use being mad at each other all day, about being late for church.
Today my pastor read us this verse. Well, he read a lot of verses, but this one particularly spoke to me:
1 Timothy 6:17 “Tell those who are rich in this age not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, let them place their confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
He was talking about how God gives us all these incredible gifts in life to enjoy. But, it’s God that we ought to put our ultimate hope in, not the gifts themselves.
So, I thought about that for a moment. I realized that the last couple days, especially, I’ve had this low-grade nervousness about life. It’s colored everything. I don’t know if you ever struggle with anxiety but it’s like this dull anxiousness that nothing is quite safe or that I’ll lose something or someone precious and most valuable to me. I fear that hardship will come–some circumstance that’s too dark or too painful to bear and hope itself will slip right through my fingers and I’ll despair.
But, today, as I was sitting there in my church, I felt like Jesus was asking me, “Maggie, where is your hope? Is your hope in Me? I’m glad you love your family. I’m glad you love your life. Your home. Your freedom. I gave you all these things richly for you to enjoy, but where is your hope? Is your hope ultimately in those things or is it in Me?”
Sometimes church is just good for sitting still and being quiet before God and letting Him move around in our hearts to reveal things.
I realized my hope has been in all the beautiful things God has given me that I’m so afraid He’ll take away. So, with a little bit of mustard seed faith, I put my hope back in Jesus and my anxiety left. Peace came back. Whew. I’m so glad. I don’t like living scared of things.
And then I rejoiced that my Heavenly Father is the kind of God who wants us to enjoy our life. He gives us gifts to gladden our hearts. I thought of those gifts. I named them.
I’ve been so anxious but the truth is, God’s Kingdom has come. It’s here right now. The gospel isn’t just that Jesus came so that I could go to heaven when I did. Jesus came so that I can experience heaven before I die. Right here, in this simple life. And what is heaven like? Heaven is where love never fails. And what is God’s Kingdom like? It’s where darkness is never allowed to completely overtake the light. That’s what is available to me right now. Jesus came preaching the Kingdom. That sort of peace is available to me as I take this next breath.
I want to have hope in the future instead of toting around this foreboding fear. I want to bear witness to God’s glory and Presence and hold as much of Him inside my chest as I can. So, this week, I’ll keep a record. I’ll take note of the gifts He’s given me to gladden my heart.
Tide pools (I’ll have to day dream about these since there aren’t any close by but I am good at using my imagination.)
Water droplets on the window
I’m sure I’ll get a little frazzled and frayed this new week, before another Sunday comes back along again, but I’ll remind myself to relax knowing that God is good. And Jesus and His Kingdom are presently available to me, whether I am on the raggedy edge or in the thick of things.