There is so much that I want to catch up on. The summer flew by in magnificent ways, but too fast it seems.
I have learned to be excited the first day of anything when I know it is a chance to start fresh. I can't say it has always been that way. There are still times when change is NOT what I am looking for. Those places are when the change must happen within myself. While I know they are good changes, to make me more like Christ, they are painful and hard.
There are changes that come with excitement. First day of a new job, new city to live in, school, and hosts of other times when excitement is met with hope. We hope for all kinds of things when that change comes. Hoping that a new job will provide better than before. Hoping that a change in where you live will awaken something in you to live better. We even get this nostalgic feeling when the New Year comes. It's as if there is magic in the day itself to inspire change for good.
Today, it is the FIRST day of school for my kids. I look forward to this day. Someone said to me this weekend that we almost have three new starts each year. New Year, of course, then summer begins and then the kids start school. Each "fresh start" is met with the same expectations that we hope changes are being made for the better.
Why do I look forward to today? It is because there is structure, accountability, lists, fall mornings, productivity, peace, and the preparation for the next season to come. I look forward to renewing my lost resolutions to do this or that. The lazy days of summer are gone.
Looking at my calendar I see the signs of so much change for me. New activities dot the different days. There is a renewed commitment to make lists to do, finish projects, read, cook, bake, and yes- make time to rest. Not all the changes will be exciting or fun. Many of the changes that have to happen are more discipline and diligence. That will require hard work and painful moments.
I don't like working on those changes, but it must be done. I need to resolve once again to work toward the goal of being more Christ-like. This isn't a resolution I take lightly nor do I begrudge. It is one that I need and know that it is for my good and God's glory. I know that God will be with me and we walk together through these changes. It will not make the journey any less painful, but when God has already promised me that He has my hand, what do I need to fear?
One recent change, we as a family, have been led to make was to leave the church we had belonged to for many years. It was a place that my husband, kids and me served together as a family. It is painful to walk away from ministries that we love and people that we adore. It was a needed change though. Many reasons led to our fervent prayer for God's direction. Those reasons were painful to endure while we pressed on hoping to be an influence and bring glory to God. There was a peace like no other when my husband and I together made the decision to go. I wish I could say that we were wished well by all or that we didn't have hurtful things said to us while we are working to do what is best for our family and honor God's leading. I wish that I could say the painful things we had seen and been a part of were instantly gone now that we are no longer there.
There are days that fear and doubt grip me to almost paralysis. What did we do? Did we really make the right decision? Where will we go? How long will the Lord reserve us from serving in a church again? Just I have now written this and made a confession to you, I sense the Lord whisper "Be anxious for nothing, child." How much does Jesus love me? He knows even the words I have not said aloud but written.
While we were visiting a local church yesterday, I once again mulled over the changes we have made. I had my bible open during worship. While I love to sing, I felt the need to sit and read during this time. The Lord has been pressing Psalms 6 and Isaiah 42 on my heart in the last couple months. I read Isaiah 42 over again and my heart stopped on verse 6. "I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you."
My heart is crying out for His touch and there He met me again. I needed to know that I have not been overlooked, forgotten or unloved. He reminded me over and over again as He continued to draw my eyes back to the promise that HE has called me and that HE will KEEP ME! I am worth it to Him. I am valuable to Him.
The changes I have to face both withing myself and for my family are because of what Christ did for me. It is because of His calling that we follow. We made the right decision when we heard his voice call us into the unknown. We have exciting changes coming and hard ones too. Each one will be worth it.
There are many things that I am hoping will keep changing as I am being refined. There is structure of my day, the ways I get involved and with who, the discipline I desperately need in my life and the example I must show my children. I need to reach out more and not be afraid. God has purpose and He uses us to fulfill that purpose. Even just yesterday as a friend and I talked over coffee, God met a need unexpectedly that brought peace. I wasn't asking or even looking for it, but God used this friend to speak to me. "Be anxious for nothing, child. I have not forgotten you. I have called you and I will keep you. It will be okay."
Just as I wrote those words, God AGAIN used that friend to ease a burden for my family. It isn't what I expected, it wasn't something I asked for. God KNEW and he again used her to bring peace to my anxious heart. Doesn't it mean that everything is all better? No, but it simply means that my Savior still sees me and in a tangible way brings peace to my home and the reminder that He will keep me.
"I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you."
How amazing you are. You see my filthy sin and wash it away with gentleness and compassion. You remind me that I am yours and that you will keep me. I am not replaceable or overlooked. Even when I mess up, have to make changes that hurt and stretch me, you have my hand. There is nothing that goes unseen by You. I give you praise for Who you are and what you have done! Thank you for tangible reminders of your provision and power. Thank you for the direction I have to follow. I would be lost on my own. I give you praise. Thank you for using your people to bring you glory. Thank you for even the people who hurt me. Each encounter is a refining moment to mold me more to your likeness. How beautiful are your works. Help me to be strong and stay firmly gripped to your hand. Like a toddler who will often get distracted and run away, Lord thank you for the patience to run after me with a love too strong to outrun. Thank you Jesus.