Have you ever sat in church listening to the pastor's message and thought, "He is speaking directly to me?" It's one of those times when your heart is moved because you know God sees you, He knows what you need, and He has a message he wants to you hear. I felt like that today.
Ever since March and the realization that we would be here the third year, my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride with most of the ride heading downhill. I've felt such an internal struggle between contentment and longing for home, peace and anxiety, acceptance and frustration. After a bit of struggle, I truly felt that I had surrendered to God's plan and had a deep peace about staying here. I felt encouraged in our marriage and like I could really see how God was using and teaching me here. After another trip to Nashville for a quick house-hunt which ended as an unfruitful and frustrating experience in which Tim and I got into an intense "discussion" in the middle of my brother's living room, I've been looking for that sense of peace and questioning what God is up to. Tim's been working long hours and dealing with the pressures at work, and I've been trying to work through my emotions of feeling unsettled and anxious about the future.
So, when I saw the sermon title, "When Faith Meets Depression", I wondered what God would say to me as I sat in the pew and so desperately wanted to hear a word of hope from Him.
And as my God has always been and always will be so faithful to provide, He did not disappoint me.
The pastor first started with the statement, "We are all messes, but God chooses to use messes in His sovereign grace." Man, have I felt like a mess lately! I've told Tim thank you for being patient with me as I am a mess. I've said to my friends that I just feel like a mess, and I apologized to my brother and sister-in-law for laying our mess in the middle of their living room floor. I've used those exact words, and something stirred deep within me when I heard my pastor say with tears in his eyes that he's a mess. Sometimes, I just need to know that I'm not the only one who is struggling. Even more encouraging is the fact that God loves me in the messy state I am in and that He can still use me, mess and all.
I also heard this morning that often times great trials will follow great victories. I had felt that I had a "victory" when I had let go of my desires in March and submitted to God's plan. I knew God was teaching and molding me, and for a few weeks, I was feeling really good. Often times hard times follow great stress as well. We've been stressed looking for a job and stressed with Tim's workload and travel schedule. I've been stressed trying to hold it all together. Just taking a look back at our last few months gives me grace to know it's okay to feel down right now. It's okay and understandable that I am struggling. It's okay that I have doubt and fear.
But, I want to choose faith. I want to choose trust. I want to listen to God's truth and not the lies the enemy has been telling me.
The best part of the message today was reading about Elijah, seeing his struggle, and being moved by the way God met his needs. God sent him an angel who woke him from his sleep with cake of bread baked over hot coals, with a jar of water to refresh his parched throat, and with more rest. Sometimes all we need is rest. Sometimes, all we need is a friend to listen. Sometimes all we need is something very simple: to know God sees us, He cares, and He provides.
My pastor ended today by encouraging us to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. My pastor in Nashville used to tell us the same thing. We must remind ourselves of God's faithfulness, of our neediness for Him, and that He loves us, mess and all.
There are many things that I miss about the States, many things I long to return to in Nashville, many people I miss. Yet, there are lots of things I love about Canada and one of those things is our church. It took a few months for God to lead us there and it took lots more months for it to feel like home. Harvest Bible Chapel has become a home away from home for us, and I've grown to love its people and its pastor. After we have gone home, I will forever be grateful for the way God encouraged me through Harvest and the people there.