Since Sunday I have heard four sermons. I am not sure I have ever listened to four sermons in four days — until now.
On Sunday, we joined our son at the church he and our daughter-in-law are joining. The pastor spoke about “Tough Truths for Hard Times”. He pointed out that hard times are normal; they are a gift; they call for hard questions; and they are an opportunity to live by faith. I wrote in the service folder, “Live by the Word of God, even when I don’t know if it’ll work out.”
At home on Monday, after hearing from our pastor that I had missed his “best sermon ever” (wink, wink), I listened to his message “Beauty for Ashes” online. The message recalled a time when Jesus interrupted a funeral procession to bring a dead man back to life. He said that God also interrupts us as we live our lives; He enters into our circumstances and breathes life into us.
On Tuesday, I attended a women’s luncheon with a thousand other Lutheran women and heard Dr. Dale Meyer preach about “Life’s Crosses”. He pointed out that throughout life we have many crosses to bear — illness, financial hardship, relationship struggles, etc. — and that the key to carrying these crosses is clinging to God in faith, trusting that He will bring us safely through.
Finally, on Wednesday night, I attended Lenten service where our pastor spoke about the beauty of grace. He recalled the parable of Jesus in which the workers, all hired at different times of the day, received the same wages. He painted a picture of God as one who desires to give His best to everyone. I wrote in my notes, “God dispenses gifts, not wages. The only thing we can do, by His grace, is receive them.”
Four sermons in four days. I’m sitting here this morning at my computer thinking, “Ok, connect the dots. What is the overall message God is bringing to you?” And you know, the sermons are indeed meaningful, but He also has been speaking to me in the spaces around these sermons.
On the drive home from church with our son, we were discussing applying for jobs (my continuing quest) and I heard myself say, “I have applied for so many jobs, I have lost count. I don’t even get upset any more when I get an email that says they’ve “gone in another direction”.
Riding to the luncheon on Tuesday, I heard my friend, a 72-year-old widow say, “I’m God’s worker. I get up every morning and see what work He has for me to do.”
Last night after church, a friend asked me, “So how’s the job hunt going?” I heard myself respond, “I have applied for dozens of jobs. I know God has me where He wants me; I am just impatient.”
This morning, I was updating information on the FAFSA for our daughter. There was a message highlighted in red that said, “Your parents’ reported income is significantly lower than last year.” Yeah. I know.
Times aren’t really that hard in the little house by the river: we are well-fed and clothed, we love one another. God is providing for all of our needs. Sure finances are a bit tight. Sure I have to move at a different pace than I ever have before. But we have been given a gift of time and space to ask some hard questions and to sit with some of the answers.
God has indeed interrupted our lives with a career change, a move, a chronic illness, and some lifestyle changes. But in that interruption, He has breathed life through new friendships and new circumstances.
We do have some crosses — some challenges– on our plates. I am learning that these challenges, the ones for which I don’t see resolution, keep me in a posture of dependence on God. They keep me near to Him. They have me clinging.
And we have been given so much grace. Not only at this particular time — but even when we were soldiering through, kicking butts and taking names.
So, the message of the last four days? Life is hard. God is good. You’ve got struggles? Yeah, that’s life. You’ve got God? That’s grace. Keep your perspective, Kristin, keep your perspective.
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.