Normally I dislike sermons that focus on a holiday (save for Christmas and Easter of course) because I find that they tend to be cheesy. But I was visiting my sister for the weekend and so I planned to go to a local church Sunday morning. While I was getting ready my niece Amelia asked me if she could go with me. My sister put an extra car seat in my car and Amelia and I had out first outing together alone-to church! I was of course delighted to have her in my car yet acutely aware of my driving. We ran to Starbucks and had a drink (The usual for me, triple shot for the toddler) before showing up to church.
Long story short, she was so well behaved. Tried to sing along, kept pretty quiet during prayer and even shook a few hands without coaching. Eventually she got bored sitting still and we went into the "Cry Room" as we call it at home. But what I did hear of the sermon struck me.
The pastor was preaching on Memorials, such as the Ebenezer built by the Israelites after God lead them across the Jordan River. (Josh 4) He told us story after story of God intervening in his life and how despite the power of these moments he often forgot about them, so he keeps a list to memorialize them. He did not want to forget how God had blessed him because when hard times come, as they do, he wanted to remember them and therefore be confident because the God who showed up in his past would show up again. Looking at my niece, a memorial to God answering prayer, who was so prayed for before she was born and is so cherished now, I had trouble not crying. Normally I wouldn't mind, but how do you explain tears of joy to a two year old?
For the next couple days whenever we went somewhere in a car, she wanted to ride with me and listen to her favorite Bob and Larry CD. I very much want her to grow up having a fulfilling and healthy relationship with her creator. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude watching her sing along in the back seat to "God is So Good." It made me want to make a list of how God has shown up in my life. It is in no way comprehensive or specific, but here's what I've got so far.
- A Christian legacy that goes back I don't know how far. - Prayer warriors who have prayed over me since before I was born. - The family and friends I have that help keep me pointed to God despite who I really am. - My nieces who continue to stun me with the goodness of my God. - A patient Father who allows me to wander and then welcomes me back with such love. - The death of my Savior who loves me more than I can comprehend, loves my nieces more than I am capable of and has never regretted the sacrifice He made to save me.
No one needs to convince me of the presence of evil in this world. No one needs to cite evidence to justify a belief in the devil and the sin he causes. But honestly, I do not understand why my Father, who I know is love, allows some things to happen. It can be tempting to get angry about this. I do know He does intervene sometimes, but what possible criteria can be used to decide when? To know the answer to this, I would have to be god, and I am not. But I don't think God gets angry with us when we cry out to Him "WHY?" Oh, I know I am rambling.
I follow the blog of a Christian, a friend of a friend, who has just lost one of her twins in utero at 8 months and it makes me wonder why these things happen. Praying about this, the image came to mind of God letting us cry in His lap, like we did as a little kids, asking our parent why something happened that we don't understand. Then I remembered what they always said, "You'll understand better when you are older." I think this may be a good way of thinking about these kinds of situations. We think we understand what we observed, but we don't understand the reasons. That takes time and maturity and there is no way to speed up that process.
I am a terrible blogger! I just have not felt that much like writing. BUT I did want to let you all know that I am doing better. The thing with the agnostic is over, I'm pursuing my relationship with God again and I am generally happier. Not bad huh? I really appreciate all of the support, prayers and listening you have done for me.