Eight years ago yesterday, I married an incredible man. He was kind, loving, loyal, smart, funny and talented, which made him a genuine friend, devoted husband and invested father. However, 11 months and 15 days ago, I said goodbye to him as he said hello to Heaven, and though I thought I had learned so much while caring for him as ALS attacked his body, God quickly showed me that my lessons had only just begun. I really had no idea what was coming, but I knew I could trust the One who did, and not only would He direct me and give me the strength and peace I would need to move forward, but also to encourage others and glorify Him.
First of all, God’s timing is perfect….always. Saturday night as Jason and I waited for the snow to fall, we took advantage of a quiet night in with dinner and a Redbox movie, and for this we chose Trolls. While there are a few genuinely good themes explored, several things about the movie are just a little disturbing, which led to a good discussion with the boys. One serious recurring theme stuck out and left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, though, the lie that happiness is the most important goal and that we have to rely on other people or a good song to realize its presence buried inside of us. In addition to this, when the characters experience this happiness, they are also comforted and empowered. Now… “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is my jam, and I will totally bust out some moves when I hear it, and I also know the deceptive fulfillment and satisfaction that come from being accepted and loved by someone you care for and are attracted to. However, music fades when things get hard, and people you love will eventually disappoint or leave for one reason another, plunging you into quiet isolation. Then that happiness that was dependent on your situation becomes elusive, and the emotions that take its place are unforgiving. So this is what the world teaches - circumstantial happiness is the goal. With that comes confidence, strength, and peace, and without it, we are doomed to a life of worthlessness, loneliness and despair.
According to the logic of the world, I am someone to be pitied then, a poor widow left with two children to raise on her own, without a man to make me happy, give me value, comfort and help. Fortunately, the world does not determine my outlook, and I am much more interested in lasting joy, rather than temporary happiness. That joy is found in the presence of the Lord, when we trust in His plans and follow Jesus by loving others and glorifying God instead of ourselves. What makes this even better is the realization that because our joy is found in an unchanging, faithful God, it is always available, regardless of our situations and relationships. It is in this joy that we find our strength, and in His power, lies our peace.
I loved John more than anyone else I have ever known, but it is my relationship with God, not John, that comforts and empowers me, and as I rest in God and follow after Jesus, He teaches me the power of my story and His plan to work through it. Last Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing my hope with hundreds of people at Brevard Community Church. Yesterday I was given the special gift of speaking to a small congregation at Dunns Rock Baptist Church. Next Sunday, it looks like I will get to tell some of my story at Little River Baptist Church. Over and over, God is opening doors for me to inspire, encourage and connect with others through the truth of His word and the experiences He has given me. In a world wrapped up in happily ever afters brought on by self-serving relationships, the absence of a man by my side validates the source of my joy, strength and peace.
I get lonely; it is hard raising two boys by myself; I miss John, and I especially miss how we glorified God together and the depth of the love He gave us through that process. I also pray for my Boaz, someone who will admire my character and want to care for and cherish me, but for the past 11 months and 15 days, God has filled me with joy and revealed His power and goodness more because of my singleness, and until His plan changes, that will be more than enough for me.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. -Psalm 16:11
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you will overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. - John 15:10-12
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10b
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace. - Psalm 29:11
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9
In case you missed it, here is my hope for the race... BCC Message 3/5/17