I tell my husband a LOT that we need to change churches. We need to go to a place where I can leave each week without feeling convicted ... or the challenge to grow isn't a huge stretch for me. I'd like to go to a place where I don't cry my make-up off every single Sunday in the worship service. Wes tells me not to wear any make-up in the first place and that would solve the problem. Since I have a teeny-weeny vanity problem, that probably won't work. It would be just hunky-dory if we didn't sing songs that tugged at my spirit and caused big ole' fat tears to pour down my face. It would be nice to feel like our pastor did NOT call my husband the week before and say, "So, are there any specific issues that Diana is dealing with that I'll need to address from the pulpit?" So, when I tell dear Wes that we seriously need to change churches, he just laughs because he thinks I'm really cute and funny, and that I'm joking, of course. And yes, I guess I am ... darn it. Sigh. No, I don't want to change churches. I love being where I am. Believe it or not, I'm really grateful for a church home where the Word is celebrated so faithfully by so many.
Today, one point that really stood out to me is as follows (and I quote ... word for word, by the way!): "Our unrealized expectations can be major sources of discouragement when we take our eyes off of God." Ouch! This, by the way, is just one of the examples where our pastor called our home, asking Wes where I needed to be challenged. Yes, I've been suffering a little bit from discouragement. I'm not going to go in to all of the gory details. Let's just say that I've struggled with feeling like I've failed in certain areas, that my wonderful and perfect expectations haven't been met, and I've had a hard time not wallowing in a pity potty. For those of you who call it a pity party, that's fine. It's never really seemed like a party to me ... definitely more like a potty. And there are times I'm not just swimming in that potty, but wallowing in it. Enough description. I'm sure you understand where I'm going with that. Anyway, when our pastor said that specific statement, it was as though God's Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Be sure to write that one down. I meant it especially for you." Sorry if you were sitting in the church service today and had to hear God's and my private conversation, but maybe it could be of benefit to you as well.
Just one of the things that I really, REALLY love about our Lord is His extreme faithfulness. To me, my discouragement was a natural reaction to what I was dealing with. I mean, when I have absolutely no control over something and it eats away at me, I'm supposed to feel sorry for myself, right? But God reminds me all of the time that He is sovereign and in control, and contrary to popular belief, He is NOT performing strictly for my benefit. In actuality, He has a plan and a purpose. He knows what He's doing. There are times I don't understand (many, many, many times!) ... there are things that happen that are emotionally and physically draining ... but in each and every circumstance, I can hold on to the fact that God is in control. My tendency is to be all about me -- I know that comes as a shock to you because I give the outward impression that I've always got it all together, but it's true -- and I take my eyes off of my Lord and put them on me and my circumstances. This next part, though, is the part that's really incredible. Get ready for it! God knows all of that ... and He still loves me anyway. What He wants is for ME to realize that as well, and then to step in line behind Him to follow. He is faithful to point out to me when I'm looking elsewhere for things to make me happy. Because you know what? God KNOWS that I'll never be happy when I'm looking anywhere else but at Him as we go through this life together. Since He loves me, His desire is the best for me ... and the best is that my eyes are fixed firmly upon Him. Unfortunately, God has to remind me of that ... a lot. But fortunately for me, He does.
So, that's what I came away with today as I walked out of church with mascara smudged around my eyes and a bright, splotchy, runny nose. I wasn't particularly attractive, I admit ... but the strange thing is that my heart was singing. God so graciously and faithfully taught me once again through His incredible Word. He loves me. My hope is that you, too, suffer from going to a church where you feel God's Spirit poking you to see if you're paying attention. We can celebrate in His faithfulness and grace together!