Yesterday started off like any other Sunday. I woke up, I had my morning coffee, I snuggled under the blanket with my early-rising daughter and enjoyed a slow start, while trying to decide if I had enough courage to really face the day. You see, while it started like any other Sunday, it would not end like any Sunday I’d experienced in about a year.
I read this quote yesterday:
Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.
After my coffee and breakfast, I did the next thing – I got ready for the day. I shared with a few friends that I was dressed and ready an hour and a half early, so that I wouldn’t back out.
See, after being out of church for almost a year, I was venturing out.
To a new church.
And I was full of anxiety.
There are a lot of things that could be said here. Suffice it to say that a lot of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and perceived lack of support in very difficult times, went in to my family’s decision to switch churches.
Church was a very different experience. Not bad, just different. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I had a few conversations with people I knew “way back when”.
I came home feeling totally spent.
It’s hard to work up the courage to try something new, especially a church. Particularly when the last experience ended badly. But I did it. I tiptoed, but I did it.
Just before I’d left for church, my husband went to start his car so he could move it. We’d just had it worked on last week and put some money into it. So when he started it and nothing happened, we were a little shocked. It’s an older car and while it hasn’t been too much trouble, it’s been enough.
He spent some time thinking and praying over what to do regarding the car. Keep it? Junk it? And then our sweet girl presented him with another option.
Her option couldn’t help us fix the car situation, but it could help us all feel better.
She wanted to bake chocolate chip cookies. With her dad. I love that my kids like to cook and bake with my husband. It’s nice to see them bond over fun things they can do together as they get older!
The cookies were delicious and we managed to get the grocery shopping done and get our oldest to and from youth group. Once we were all home, we got the kids ready for bed and my husband and I watched Moms’ Night Out. Talk about laugh-out-loud funny…!
It was time for bed and I made the mistake of walking into the kitchen.
Y’all, it was a mess. A cookie-making mess. They didn’t clean it up.
If kitchens could be a “hot mess”, mine would have gotten the blue ribbon.
It is fair to say that we had a day.
I was tempted to get frustrated and upset about the kitchen. I mean, at the end of a long day, it would be fair, right?
But, I didn’t get frustrated. To be honest, I wasn’t even in denial. I may be a little sleep deprived to make that statement, but I wasn’t in denial. For real – the kitchen was a hot mess. The car was dead. I had to go to a new church. I’d had a day – I even told my friends about it.
In fact, all of this post is based on a message I sent to friends last night saying that my day was…very different from normal and that it had taken some courage to get through the day.
The last thing I needed was the kitchen.
But then there was this realization:
Last week when my brother was very sick and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong,
and my husband’s car showed signs of starting to die, I didn’t worry.
I was concerned – very concerned, but not worried.
See, things have been bad in my life before – real bad.
Like, almost-lose-part-of-my-family kind of bad.
That’s now become the standard by which I judge stressful situations.
I considered yelling at my husband about the kitchen (because technically the mess was his fault).
But I’ve come to realize that if something happened, and my family couldn’t be together for some reason, I’d miss that messy kitchen where two of my loves worked together to make some AMAZING cookies!
Someday the kids will be grown, on their own, doing their God-things,
and I’ll have time for spotless.
Today? Give me a house full of family, a dead car in the driveway, a mess of a kitchen, courage for a new church, and hearts FULL of happy!
Not today, devil. You don’t get to win today.
It’s tempting to worry, isn’t it? It’s tempting to do everything in our power to make things turn out as we think they should.
Yesterday at church, the pastor was sharing out of Genesis 15. In those times, a certain type of covenant was made by cutting animals in half and laying them in two separate rows. The path between the animals is where both parties would walk, symbolizing their commitment to the covenant, and if they broke their end of the bargain, they were willing to be cut up like the animals were.
In this passage, though, Abraham cuts the animals, makes the path to be walked on, but only God is the One who walks between the rows of animals. He’s saying, “I will keep my covenant with you, or else I will be cut up like these animals.”
Of course, we know God can’t go back on His word, but what a gesture to make such a commitment. The pastor pointed out that Abraham had God’s word. What better thing could anyone have?
We have that same assurance. We have the promise of salvation and redemption. God covered the debt we owe – a death requiring blood – by sending His Son to die for us.
We want to work out the problems we have – dead car, messy kitchen caused by someone else. We want to hide out sometimes rather than take a step of faith.
Sometimes, though, the best thing is to let God work as He will.
Why does that always seem the hardest thing?
God has our days, our lives, in His hand and yet we find it so difficult to just let go and let Him work. At least, I know I do.
I’ve chosen to pray more – a lot more. I pray until I get an answer, until I see God work. Sometimes my prayers are precise, asking God specifically for what needs to happen (for example, specific prayers for my brother’s health – for the fever to go away, for wisdom for the doctors).
Often times, though, I don’t know what to pray. I just know that God needs to work because things seem to be falling apart. And so I wait.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
My day was tough, and unusual, and at the same time it was the culmination of time spent waiting on God.
I find the quote above to be so very true. I don’t think that our obedience to God has to be some grandiose gesture of faithfulness. I think it’s our heart that He looks at, our faithfulness in just showing up – even in just remembering to pray.
Maybe God is asking you to do something – to step out of your comfort zone, to try something new, to call the hot mess what it is, and to remember that at 11pm, sometimes rest is the better choice.
Can I tell you, after a year of turmoil about church, about knowing that my kids should be in church, of fear and frustration (and so many other emotions) tied up in the choice to leave my former church, I knew God was telling me that I had to get us back into church.
I am grateful for those who paved the way – who had the tough conversations to see if we’d even be welcomed at a new church. (Yes, “welcomed” is the correct word for that sentence…it’s been a long road….)
The welcome was there, the support system in place, the doors were open, all that was left my choice to obey. Or not.
Sunday was quite a day.
But it was a day where God was honored by my choices, I believe, to step out in faith – even to tiptoe.
I don’t know if this even makes a lot of sense as I’ve shared it here. I often try to think through my thoughts and feelings and put them into some sort of format. Today, though, it seems more important to be real. To share that, on my side of the screen, I struggle with a lot of what you do, I’m sure. My kitchen is never perfect (though it’s usually in somewhat of a better state than it was yesterday!), my faith is a journey – even that’s not perfect.
I appreciate the support that I often find here as I share my journey.
Praying for you all…and I’d be honored if you would share some of your faith stories – those times when the mess doesn’t matter, when you decide to step out in faith – even if it’s just one small tiptoe step.