Kicking and screaming – that’s how I finally went off, this morning, to engage in the women’s ministry offerings at our “new” church. This being the official One Year mark since we first started attending regularly, you might be picking up on what a struggle it’s been for me to fully embrace this place.
I rushed into the building resentful, late, and dripping wet.
Resentful that I had to “start over”. Late because I found every possible last-minute “forgotten” chore to take care of before walking out the door. And dripping wet because, well… rain was pouring down.
To match my mood.
Scanning the room, I quickly sat down at the way way back, in the first free chair I laid eyes on. As I scooted into the open chair, I determined to keep my heart closed.
But, I made a grave error… I breathed.
And a prayer escaped, unbidden.
Despite the feeling I’d had this past year that God forgot my need for flesh-and-blood fellowship, a fresh Hope blew in.
Instantly, I realized that I was sitting with a small group of three women that clearly already knew each other. And, they didn’t seem to be very open, themselves.
But, because I’ve never met a stranger, thank-you-very-much, I started chatting this group up. In my mind, I was drawing them out.
As usual, God had something altogether different, and altogether lovely, in mind.
From the moment the first one started speaking about the dark places she’s been, I realized she had a story that
I wanted I needed to hear. Hers was so completely different from mine. And yet, the same in all of the important places. As the next woman spoke of past entanglements that I full understand, hers, too, became a story of redemption that my heart desperately needed to hear.
Redemption comes softly and not. But, He always comes. And only Redemption, Himself, knows exactly when we will be ready to fall at His feet and welcome union with Him.
I’ve been giving this passage a lot of thought lately.
Exodus 13:17-18 says, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a round about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”
Recognizing their inability to face a challenge at this early stage in their freedom journey, God routed them differently than expected.
I am no different.
God knows how susceptible I am to a setback at the beginning stages of a new adventure.
Oh God, You knew! You knew that I desperately needed to sit next to a group of women who so recognize their need of you that I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own.
And You knew, too, that had I attempted to join in last Fall, it would have been a detour that my heart wasn’t ready for.
But. For. Grace.
Thank You for opening my ears to hear Your whisper, and my eyes to see your outstretched arm through these beautiful women this morning.
Maybe, even more, for loving me enough to pull me out of the rain and into Your Holy arms, once again.
I so needed that fresh Hope.