Things aren't always what they seem.
When I read on Facebook on Friday night that my church's pastor of 10 years was leaving, one of the thoughts that came to mind at seeing it announced that way was, Can this be true? As a friend who was with me suggested, since it was March 31, maybe this was an early April Fools' joke.
And I'm thinking, yeah, maybe. He does have a wry sense of humor. But I kept thinking, this is not something to joke about. Too many people would take it very seriously and might not be very forgiving.
But if it was serious, for it to be announced on Facebook just seemed "off," not right. And if it was a joke, something's off with that, too.
My friend and I couldn't decide what to make of this announcement, but we both decided we would pray about it. And we did.
I called my husband as I drove home and talked about it some. Times have changed, and maybe this is an OK way to make an announcement now. But it still didn't seem right that it was on a public page instead of something first just to the church.
It wasn't long before I was home. I went in the house. On the kitchen counter, I saw my mail, and, oh yeah, there's that envelope from the church. I recalled thinking, when I brought the letter into the house before I left for the evening, that they were probably asking for something -- money, maybe, or perhaps they have a position to fill. I realize I had made some assumptions when I saw it. So now, back home, I opened it, and sure enough, it was a letter dated March 30 in which my pastor said he was sad to announce that he was being moved to a different church.
So, I was like, OK, God, ha ha, I was just at a program on faith and anxiety and trusting God. And without a doubt, that already had put me in a frame of mind and spirit where I wasn't fearful or anxious about this unexpected news. I was just curious. And I was praying. My friend and I were praying. We were like: We don't know what's going on, but we're lifting up Jim and April and our church and the church it says he's going to and everyone involved. And then when I got home and read this (and it was also in the newsletter that had arrived via email), it was just clear that God was in charge.
I had it in my hands. I didn't open it. I think clearly, I can see, that was God's intent. I mean, it was in my hand and I did not open it. So, I think that timing was divine.
I know that when I write about these things, I need to be careful in determining: Why am I wanting to write about this? Is this of God? As I try to work past a multiyear bout of writer's block, my tendency is to hold back from fear or doubt about what people will think. I haven't regained my writing "voice" and I have more doubt than confidence about the merit of my prose. But with faith in God, I can be fearless before man. So, I seek to pray and discern: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it positive?
I guess my point this time, as I wrote at the beginning, is that things aren't always what they seem. And that's OK. Yesterday provided many opportunities for me to practice and grow my faith. And it provided me another exercise for trying to figure out what I want to write about and how. (I think I fared better on the former than the latter, but they intertwine.)
I've still got quite a way to go in both endeavors! Gratefully, and armed with faith, tonight I view them without fear or anxiety.
I want God to find me faithful, grateful, on my knees (from the song "Find Me," that was part of today's First 15 devotional).