I'm sitting here, at home, in my living room. Geoff and Grady are playing video games, yelling at each other (cracks me up). The smell of mulled cider and pumpkin spice are so comforting. Opie is almost passed out on the floor. I'm cuddled up on the couch, underneath my brown fleece blanket, thinking about my day.
The past two Sundays I have kind of dreaded going to church. I dread it because I don't know what it will be like. I don't know how people will behave, what they will say, how I'll feel, etc. I just dread the unknown of being around people. This is something new for me. Usually, prior to loosing Parker, I loved being at church. I loved teaching our young adults Sunday school class. I loved meeting up with friends and talking about their week. Now, I sit in the second row, while Geoff does sound check and pray that no one talks to me. Then, during Sunday school, the past two Sundays, I've escaped to McDonald's, or today, I escaped to Flying M. I dread going to church. Today; however, I'm so glad I was there.
As I was sitting, listening to Geoff practicing for morning worship, I opened up my Bible to Psalms. I found several wonderful verses to work on memorizing, but then I came upon a whole chapter that really spoke to me. It was Psalms 20:1 - 8 , here is what it says...
"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm."
I got so excited when I read this passage of scripture. My heart was filled. God is so good. I needed to hear every bit of this passage of scripture. I feel like this is the prayer of my heart.
As I was sitting there, in my second row pew, I came upon another bit of scripture that really blessed me. This passage of scripture is also found in the Psalms. It's Psalms 18:28 - 33, it says...
"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."
Again, I was completely blown away by how blessed and filled my heart was. I didn't want to stop reading, but before I knew it, it was time for the service to start.
Our services start with the singing of two hymns. I don't remember the name of the first hymn, I just remember seeing the scripture that the hymn was taken from, it was Isaiah 40:29. So I quickly turned to that scripture in my Bible. When I opened it up and started reading, I found that Isaiah 40:28 - 31 were yet again just what I needed to read. Here is what they say...
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
As I'm rewriting these scriptures (and consequently rereading them) it dawns on me that they all have a central theme...strength. God is so good.
Shortly after singing the hymns, Mark got up and read from Isaiah. I honestly don't remember the passage of scripture that he read from. What I do remember was getting distracted by a portion of scripture that I had underlined a while back, it's found in Isaiah 41:9 & 10, they say...
"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Are you understanding why Sunday was such a blessed day. This isn't the last bit of scripture that I "accidentally" ran across today...there's more.
The next bit of scripture I found after reading further into Isaiah chapter 41 was Isaiah chapter 41 verses 13 and 14. They say...
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you.' declares the Lord."
Just when I think I couldn't be blessed anymore, just when I think God had shown me all he needed to show and tell me all he needed to say for that moment, the sermon began.
It's amazing how God works. Mark's sermon was taken from the book of Ruth regarding Naomi and Ruth. I learned a lot. I learned that Naomi had experienced great lost like Geoff and I had, and then some. I also learned that she had become incredibly bitter as a result. This is where I will slightly digress...
Loosing our son Parker has been hard, but we have never, ever thought to blame God. On Friday Geoff and I went out to coffee and talked. It was a great time. We were there from about 8:30 to close. It was wonderful. While we were drinking out coffee and talking about getting away, I told him about how I have never, not once, been mad at God. He agreed. He then brought up something that happened at the hospital that accurately shows how God's peace immediately came over us.
Dr. Rudeen came in and performed an ultra sound. It was there when he stopped over Parker's heart and told us that all four chambers of Parker's heart weren't moving. I turned immediately to Geoff and grabbed him and held tight. The whole short short while that we hugged, I cried and said over and over "this isn't happening, this can't be happening, this isn't happening." Then we let go of each other, and in our dark hospital room, I told him (and Geoff reminded me of this) "It'll be OK. We can have more babies, or we can adopt. It'll be OK." And we were calm. We felt wrapped up in God's arms and we were calmed by the Holy Spirit. When Geoff and I were recounting this moment we were pleasantly reminded of why we were never angry with God.
We were never angry with God because to turn from God now would mean death for us. To turn from God would mean to turn from His goodness and grace that he showered on us that awful Sunday night four weeks ago.
Mark's sermon was all about how sad and bitter Naomi was. How her bitterness was brought on by blaming God. How tragic. How sad. One thing that I find myself saying under my breath when people say they are sorry is don't be. Don't be sorry for me. Don't be sorry for Geoff. We were blessed with 8 1/2 wonderful months with Parker. We were blessed by God's calming presence those 2 1/2 days we were in the hospital. We have continued to be blessed by the presence of His Holy Spirit. Every day God shows his blessings, be they big or small. Every day I feel God's loving arms around me. I have never felt so near to God as I have these past 4 weeks.
So don't feel bad for us. Don't be sorry for us. We are blessed by God's grace and goodness.
So while I listened to Mark's sermon about sad, bitter Naomi, I was blessed to know that I had made the right choice to, as Mark put it, not "blame God's hand, but hold on tight to it". I am blessed and not bitter because I did not choose to attack God, like Naomi did, for my loss. I did not choose to turn my back on Him or walk away from Him. I am blessed and not bitter because I have found in a new and wonderful relationship with God.
So I praise God today for being with me at church and perking my ears to hear what I needed to. I praise God today for showing me scripture that is so COMPLETELY encouraging. I praise God today for speaking through Mark's sermon and encouraging me there as well. God is good. GOD IS SO GOOD! PRAISE THE LORD!!