When I Love the Church the Most

I have just returned from church. Yes, I attended in person and it was a wonderful experience to step through the doors this morning and be greeted by friendly faces. It was a great feeling to have my friend ask if it was okay to hug me and I answered in the affirmative (because finally she and I have both received our vaccines). I soaked in the opportunity to participate in praising God and worshiping Him. I listened carefully as our pastor shared God’s Word.

As a church we are reading through the New Testament and each week the sermon is based on something we read during the week. This morning was the story of the Good Samaritan and as our pastor always does, he gave a thought provoking, challenging-me-to-be-better sermon. But then the one thing about the church that always tugs at my heart and makes me realize how much I love the church happened. After the closing song and invitation, our pastor stepped up and asked if we could be seated. You never know what to anticipate when that happens. Did someone resign? Is there an important event coming to talk about? Who knows what it will be.

As he spoke, our pastor reminded us that the church as a body needs to pray for one another and asked if we would take time to pray for some special needs this morning. He explained that we have three families in our congregation with critically ill children. A family walked up to the stage, the father carrying his son, with his wife by his side. As he sat with his obviously ill son cradled on his lap, we prayed. How do you pray for a child who has been given no hope of living? How do you pray for parents who are walking this valley of the shadow of death–not theirs but of their child? I listened as the petitions were made to God for healing. I heard the sound of weeping and sniffling throughout the entire gathering place. Silent tears rolled down my cheeks as I prayed, hoping that the promise that the Holy Spirit would take our tears and our unknown groans to God’s throne for us would be fulfilled.

As prayers for Enzo’s family ended, another family took their place and I watched as the two moms hugged each other tightly. NatG has such a rare disease that there are only seven known cases in the world. These parents did not have their child with them, because she is in the hospital in dire need of healing. How do you comfort a mother and father who are walking this difficult road? What words can you say that will convey your empathy and sympathy? Maybe nothing. But you can pray. And pray we did. Once again we asked for God’s healing, his will, and his strength and joy to abide deeply in this family. Once again we cried together. And once again I have no doubt that God has heard our prayers.

This is the part of the body of Christ I love the most. The one that prays together. The one that weeps together. The one that loves and supports fellow members of the body when they are hurting. The one that brings their needs to the throne and prays in the name of Jesus. The one that realizes that God does not always see things the way we do and His plan is not necessarily our plan, but is willing to praise Him anyway. Being part of a church that loves God and loves our neighbors truly brings joy to my heart.

Photo by adrianna geo on Unsplash

We do not know the outcome of our prayers but I am convicted that this is when the church is at its best–not when she is gleaming and holding out her precious programs and wonderful music, and even great preaching, but when we are petitioning God on behalf of our sisters and brothers. It is at our best when we drop to our knees, praying for God’s strength, His will and His comfort; when we are united in sharing someone’s pain and deepest hurts; when we are vulnerable and unsure of the future. God shows himself the most when we humble ourselves and cry out to God for his mercy and grace.

13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. –James 5:13-16 (NLT)

©Linda DeLay Wallace 2021

The Color Fan

When I built my current home I had my entire villa painted white. I wanted to live in it a while so I could soak up the atmosphere and decide on the personality of each room. When I finally got to the job of choosing colors for some of my rooms, I looked at my paint fan and was overwhelmed with the choices offered. It seemed like every color in the spectrum was presented and they all reflected unique perspectives. Each color had subtle differences, making my choices difficult.

When I was looking at the different options available, I thought about how much this paint fan was like people. People come in all different personalities, made up of different shades that are formed by their innate gifts, culture, experiences and beliefs. When they intersect with our lives, we find some of them we love and instantly connect with, and others take time to grow on us. 

In the church we have light, bright colors that draw people in; calm, steady colors that help anchor so many; and dark, rich colors like soil, that often get overlooked but add nourishment and health to our churches. Individuals who make up our churches, can be woven into a tapestry that is a wonder to behold. But in order to do that, we need to see the value and potential of all the colors. The church is made of different nations, different tribes, and different languages. And yet, it is the same. We are all sinners, saved through God’s grace because of the blood Jesus Christ shed for us.

God has given us an incredible palette of colors in his world, and some of the colors he puts together in beautiful harmony we would never have put together. A master artist, he makes a rich tapestry for us to behold. But the catch is, we have to put ourselves in the Master’s hands and trust him to use the colors of our lives to make his masterpiece.

One day, when Christ calls us home, we shall all wear the same color of white as we worship before the throne. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9, ESV

Worth Something

Recently I ran across a quote that said, “Every kid needs adults who love them in a way that convinces them they are worth something.” I have to admit there was something about that statement that resonated profoundly within me. As I thought about it over the next few days, I had to dig deep to see why it struck such a cord with me.

photo by Gean Montoya on Unsplash

Without going into a ton of detail and lots of history, I realized that one of the reasons it resonated so strongly with me is because I struggled with my own worth as I grew up. Having a mom who was a perfectionist taught me all kinds of things about doing stuff right, but it also placed a lot of unrealistic expectations on me as a child. I always felt no matter what I did, it was never enough. That really did influence my feeling (or lack) of self-worth. To this day, I still struggle with believing I am worth something.

Continue reading

How Far Is Too Far

Our church has been going through a sermon series entitled “Rescued.” Each week as I  hear the stories of people whom God has delivered from a life without Him, I am humbled by these individuals who are willing to be vulnerable and share their stories.

I know someone who was in a witness protection program when he turned state’s witness on a mob. His past was full of violent, unspeakable actions–things that would chill you to the bone if you knew what they were. When he met Jesus, he became a new man. He now works with inner city young men who are at high risk of becoming the same way he was before He met Christ.

Sometimes we forget that no matter where we are, no matter what we have done, no matter how dark of a place we go, no matter how much we have turned our backs on God, he is there waiting for us. When we turn all of the darkness, all of the heartache, all of the rage and bitterness, all of the hurts and deep scars to God, he will meet us in a place of healing and forgiveness. How far is too far for God to forgive us? Nowhere. That hole in our life that never seems filled? It is waiting for God.

Please listen to Natasha’s rescue story and hear how God rescued her. I love when she said, “I had a Father and I had a home and for the first time in my life I had peace.” You have never gone too far for God to rescue you.

Video by 2Rivers Church, O’Fallon MO

©Linda Delay Wallace 2020.

 

God Is Faithful

I have been in the process of refreshing a couple of my rooms, including painting, changing out curtains, throw pillows and accessories. And of course, I have gone through every dresser drawer to make sure I am not holding on to things I no longer use. Today, I found a journal that I started several years ago.

Not long after my husband passed away, I went through a pretty rough period. I was not working when he died, and it took me almost three years to find a full-time job. During that time things were difficult– emotionally and financially. I wrote the following entry after a particularly hard day.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Can I be honest here, God? Of course, I can because you already know. I am really grasping for answers right now. After all this time I am getting angry and bewildered about being in such an untenable situation. I just need to remember that you have not brought me this far in my faith walk to dump me now. Help me remember that! You are God and you have always wanted me to walk in faith and trust you. Help me, Lord, to walk in faith, putting my hand in yours and walking step-by-step with you.

When I falter, lift me up

When I weaken, give me strength

When I cry out, wipe my tears

When I doubt, show me faith

When I despair, fill me with hope

When I am lonely, be my friend

When I am prideful, make me humble

When I am harsh, make me gentle

When I am broken, make me whole.”

While walking through this journey was painful, looking back I see every time that God was faithful. I see every need He met. I see every person He used to support me, encourage me, and minister to me.

So my take away is this: God’s faithfulness is real. He is faithful through all the trials. He is faithful through all the tears. He is faithful through all the pain. He is faithful through the times of loss. He is faithful when you think you cannot take one more step forward.

You may be going through a really rough time in your life and you may think that nothing that is happening to you matters to God. Your life may look bleak and grim and this season in your life may feel hopeless. But it is not. Seek God, soak up his Word and trust in his promises. You may not see today where he is leading you, but God is faithful to those who are truly seeking him.

“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth and it endures. Your laws endure to this day for all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” Psalm 119:89-93 (NIV)

 

©Linda Delay Wallace 2020.

Tell Me Something Good

Yesterday I declared it to be “Tell Me Something Good” day on my Facebook feed.

I must confess. It has been a while since I have posted on my blog. Honestly, I, like many others, have been discouraged by everything that is going on in the world around me. Every time I open my computer I am bombarded with media. Real news, fake news, liberal views, right wing views, and hate filled posts from individuals I never anticipated. I have snoozed more Facebook friends (liberal and conservative) than I can count right now because of their prejudiced, ill-thought out, memes and comments. I have been dismayed by the posts of some individuals whom I thought were Bible believing, loving, kind Christians, after reading their hate filled rhetoric. I took a break from writing anything lest I become one of those ranting individuals.

Yesterday, I decided I was tired of hearing all the negativity Continue reading

God Cares About Justice

I have been trying to write this blog post for two weeks and yet, here I am, still struggling with what to say. When I saw the news about Ahmad Arbery being shot by two prejudiced vigilantes, I cringed and was heartbroken. When I saw the video of George Floyd as a policeman kneeled on his neck and indifferently snuffed out his life for the world to see, I was appalled and heartbroken. When I watched as a delivery driver was trying to leave after a delivery and got blocked because of the color of his skin, I cheered him on for videoing the encounter, but was heartbroken because I know that when he finally left and had time to breathe, he probably broke down and cried. Continue reading

The God Who Sees

This morning I listened to a song my friend had posted online and it reminded me that sometimes we women really do struggle with who we are and our circumstances. This is especially true right now during this COVID-19 outbreak and social isolation. Today I looked at some women in the Bible who seemed to reach the end of their rope as they faced trials and struggles. Let’s take a look at some of them.

She was a handmaiden, given to her master by his wife and finally felt of some worth. But then when she became pregnant, she was despised by her master’s wife, treated cruelly, and ran away to wander in the desert. Alone and afraid she wondered what would become of her and her unborn child. Did anyone really care? Continue reading