Sunday, September 12, 2021

a few things

 

Happy Sunday/Monday to you, friends. I hope you had a good weekend! I didn't do much, so rather than sharing my typical "weekending" post, I thought I'd share about some things on my heart. I always ask you how I can pray for you, but I'm asking for you to help me pray for someone our family loves. 

I want to start out by saying how glad I was to be at church yesterday. When my heart is overwhelmed, there is nowhere I want to be more than with my church family. Todd and I got to church by 8:15 yesterday morning, and I was shocked to see my pastor's truck in the parking lot. Last week his wife Darlene came down with covid and double pneumonia. She was taken to the E.R. and admitted 24 hours later in to the ICU, where she had to be put on a ventilator to help her breathe. There are other things going on here and there that may be normal for covid patients, but that sound scary here in the world I know. 

I am sure that if I feel like that when I'm overwhelmed and uncertain, how much more my pastor might be, with his wife in the ICU, on a vent and with him being unable to visit. He gave us an update on her and thanked us for our prayers, and then he worshiped with us and listened to a phenomenal sermon. I was so blessed by watching him this morning, and what his posture says about someone in such need at this time in his life. As the godly example he is, I thought about a few things that stood out to me that he is doing right now to help him cope with uncertainty and thought I'd share them with you. 

First, he isn't secluding himself and shutting himself off from being with his faith family. I can almost promise you that he is thinking where else would he want to be than at church, amidst his family. I cannot say that with complete certainty, but I know him well enough to know that has to be the way he is thinking, or he wouldn't have been there today. 

I say that to ask you to think about something—when times are hard and fearful, do you shut yourself off from the world? Looking around in church this morning, I could see a lot of empty seats. I get that it's great to live in a world where we can watch church online, but friends, it is not the same. The worship isn't the same (or completely nonexistent) and you're depriving yourself of like-minded fellowship within the body of believers. If my pastor can show up to church on a Sunday when his world is rocked by the direness of his wife's condition, how much more can we show up at church, even when we don't feel like it? Keep in mind that the enemy is very real and he wants you to stay away from your church family. He wants you alone, distracted and anxious. 

Know that I say this to challenge my own self. My tendency is to go into recluse mode, but that is when the enemy operates. Don't lock yourselves away from the body of Christ!

Second, my pastor is immersing himself in the Word of God. Just this morning he read several passages out of the book of Psalms that have comforted him this week. If you are going through something hard, do not neglect reading the Bible! If you don't know where to go to read, Google it with whatever word you're feeling (discouraged, lonely, anxious) and passages will come up that you can read to combat whatever you're going through.

Again, it's my tendency to neglect this time, but that is a very clever tactic of the enemy. Don't ask me how he so easily does such a great job at this, but he does. Even when I don't feel like it, I MUST spend time with the Lord by reading the Bible.

Third, he let us know and share in his struggles. It was not easy for him to get up and talk about Darlene and I know if I'd gotten close enough to him, I'd probably have seen dark circles under his eyes. He still got up and he shared with us from the very bottom of his heart. He had nothing to keep hidden from us and he was not ashamed to admit how hard his week has been since she became so sick. He thanked us for our prayers on their behalf and I can imagine he has prayed until his voice has just about given way.

I know we don't always know what to pray when life is really hard. Did you know that we don't HAVE to know what to pray? Romans 8:26 says this: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit prays for us! We don't have to have the words to say, the Lord knows our heart and He knows what we want to pray for. 

I also know that when we are feeling our worst, it can be hard to let people in on the fact that we are struggling. But that is another tactic of the enemy and he wants us to think we're alone. We are not alone! If we are believers and followers of Jesus, then we know that He is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us! He also wants us to suffer in silence to keep others from praying for us. Here is the thing—the enemy is after those of us who belong to Jesus. He already has the world, but it's us that he wants.

I said all of that to encourage you to be open and honest with those you're closest with. Don't struggle and suffer in silence. Reach out and let someone in to storm the gates of Heaven on your behalf. I also said all of this to ask you to pray for Pastor Chuck and his beautiful (hilarious and crazy) wife Darlene. She is unlike any pastor's wife I have ever known! You literally never know what is going to come out of her mouth, but she is a faithful servant of God and she fiercely loves her husband, children and grandchildren. She is loyal to a T and she will stand up for someone who has been wronged faster than you can blink. I know that when she wakes up and becomes herself again, she is going to be so irritated at all the time she had to spend in a bed, in the hospital. I say that half jokingly, because I do think that's partly true, but I also know that she will be very quick to tell everyone and anyone Who deserves the glory for her overcoming such a serious illness. 

I have another friend whose husband is in the hospital right now and I texted with her right before I started to write this blog post. Will you help me pray for Bill and his wife Connie? Connie is a dear friend of mine from choir and my heart aches for her, Pastor Chuck and anyone else who has a loved one in the hospital alone right now. My heart aches for the patient, but equally so for their spouses stuck at home while they're in the hospital. I bawled my eyes out this morning during the time when my Pastor spoke to us, while we worshipped, and when I drove home from getting dinner at Taco Bell tonight. 

Life is hard! But God is bigger than all of it and I am so glad for the hope we have in Jesus. Do you know Him? I don't know how anyone makes it through this life without a close relationship with Him. Well, I do know, because I see how miserable they are. I'd love to talk more about this if you're interested. Thanks for reading and thanks for helping me pray for my friends. Love to all. 

8 comments:

  1. Praying for your pastor's wife this morning. It was good for us to be at church yesterday as well. We heard a lesson on spiritual warfare and the timing was just what we needed to hear. I hope you are able to have a good Monday.

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  2. That's scary to me your Pastor is around probably vulnerable people & he may be contagious as well.

    Praying for everyone struggling with illness & especially dealing with COVID that is so unpredictable.

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  3. Thank you, Marilyn! I bet that was a great sermon, and very timely. I honestly plan on writing about that this week as well, because I feel like the Lord revealed some things to me today regarding that topic as I was praying. I love when He does that, but I am also when He convicts me of sin in my heart. I may not say a whole lot out loud to someone, but I sure think it, and to think it is to commit the sin. I love how He works!

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  4. Rebecca Jo- it is scary! I didn't say this in my post, but he was exposed to his wife, obviously and tested negative by Thursday or Friday. She went into the ER on Tuesday night, as far as I know. I'm glad he tested negative! He needs his family right now more than ever. Thank you for those prayers!

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  5. Prayers for your pastor and his wife, Jen!!

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  6. Jennifer - I am praying just now for both of these ladies. I promise to keep praying. What a beautiful lesson to learn from your pastor. I tend to pull away...and isolate...even though it has proved over and over to be the enemy's trap. How brave of your pastor to be there in church...and to allow his church family to love him, comfort and encourage him. Thanks for sharing their names and allowing us to join you in prayer.

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  7. Thank you for your prayers, Jennifer! Since I wrote this on Sunday night, my friend Connie's husband has started improving greatly! He is still in the hospital, but they are very much encouraged by his prognosis and hopeful that he'll be home soon. I was blown away by our pastor- not only did he get up to update us, he stood there and encouraged us and continues to do so even now on his social media account! What an amazing and godly example for us to look to.


    My tendency is also to pull away and I have to fight that battle so often. Sometimes I do give into it, but I do have my choir family that keeps me accountable. I have to "accept" an invitation on our app that I'll be there each week and if I didn't come, I feel like I'd have to answer to someone. It helps me tremendously! Thanks again for stopping by- I did receive both of your emails! Thanks for those and for your sweet encouragement. Have a great day!

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