Do you ever sit down to post on Xanga and you just don’t know where to start? That is how I have been feeling for quite a while now. Just thinking about the fact that I should update gives me writer’s block.
For those of you who were at Bethel on Sunday, wasn’t Pastor’s story at the end of his sermon amazing? I know that some of you commented about it on your blogs. For my friends reading this that don’t go to my church, Pastor told a story about a family who’s daughter was murdered. The parents of that girl actually visited their daughter’s killer in prison multiple times. They witnessed to him and he got saved. When he got out on parole the parents invited this man to their house, for they had developed a friendship with him. Pastor mentioned that there was a picture of the three of them sitting around the kitchen table, the murderer sitting in the chair that the daughter had sat in before. Pastor’s point was the peace that they had been given.
As he was telling the story I had goose bumps. I was sitting there in awe…not because of what the parents had done, but because of what God had done in their lives. No amount of striving could have ever brought them to that point; offering forgiveness and friendship. It was the grace that God gave them. He is the one who gave the overwhelming peace. That doesn’t mean that their flesh didn’t struggle, it just shows their desire to obey God. God is the one who gave the love that they showed. As I sat observing people’s reactions to the story, I noticed that many were amazed that these people could show that kind of love, that kind of forgiveness. My spirit was saying, “Amen!” This may sound crazy, but I know what that type of grace feels like.
God is working in each of our lives to conform us into the image of Christ. No two people are alike, so God uses totally different experiences to teach different individuals the same concepts. Though I have never lost a family member in a violent way (and I hope that I never do) I have experienced God’s grace in my life. Grace that has enabled me to forgive when it seemed impossible and to show love when someone didn’t deserve it.
Some (or most) of you know that my father left my family when I was 3 1/2. Throughout the years I have had many opportunities to give my pain to God and to forgive my father. God has healed my broken heart, but when you love someone you are always open to fresh wounds. At some point in my life, my mom began to become friends with the lady my dad was living with. I know that some people probably thought my mom was crazy…maybe she even wondered herself…but she knew that is what God wanted her to do. At one point this lady stayed at our house for a while. She would call my mom and ask for help. We even babysat her little girl on a regular basis for a while. Though circumstances changed and we haven’t heard from her in about 10 years I still wonder how she is doing. Let me just say, this love, this compassion is not something that you can muster up in your own strength. Neither is the forgiveness. You just have to be willing to take part in what God has given you.
On Saturday, I was tested in my relationship with my father. A scheduling issue came up and it caused some tension. I was able to work out the details, but not with out first having a confrontation with my dad. I hate confrontation. The whole thing made me so mad that I started crying after I was finished talking with him. I don’t like being hurt so I felt myself shutting him off. I didn’t want to be around him…I wanted to be going in an opposite direction from where he was going. I wanted to curl up in a ball and stay in bed for the rest of the day. I knew that I wasn’t responding the way God would want me to, but it can be hard to get emotions in check. But God, in His mercy knew that I needed to change my attitude so he provided the opportunity. I was able to go with my family (David and Lisa included) to go boat shopping. I didn’t want to go because I wanted to be away from Dad. Not only did I go, but I drove. That is something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months ago because of the anxiety I was struggling with. Overall it ended up being a good day. It was a good reminder that when confronted with a difficult situation I don’t have to shut down…I can face it and let God work. He gave me peace.
Saturday morning I was wondering when I woke up how I would see God working in my life for the day. I wouldn’t have chosen the circumstances that I went through. Would any of us choose to be tested, pulled out of our comfort zone? Yet, God showed me that He is always there when I need Him and that He is actively working in my life. I’m sure that my relationship with my Dad will hit more bumps in the future, but God will be there giving wisdom, giving strength, giving grace. May I ever be obedient to His leading.