Time after Pentecost Psalm 98 November 13, 2022

Prayer of the Day from Celebrate for today: O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Embrace us with your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide, we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord

Testimony

I am not a preacher.  I don’t think I would be a very good one actually. When I first started trying to formulate something to talk about though, I tried to be a preacher. I diligently tried to make my ideas sound sermon-like, to stick to the scriptures we’ve been presented (even trying to touch on all four passages) but I’m just a girl who loves God and tries to follow His ways so, I felt God say “Stop. Be you, tell them about who I am for you.”

That, I think I can do.  Peter says I am a person belonging to God that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His wonderful light (I Peter 2:9).

The Psalm and the prayer for the day speak to me most clearly at this point in my life. I love the thought of everything on earth singing and dancing and shouting for joy over the revelation of God.  It probably resonates with me because of my love of music in general. In all honesty, I often imagine that flowers and trees reach their arms and blooms heavenward in adoration; I would like to be in that nature full choir. But the prayer. . .man, that prayer hit the chords in my heart. I have returned to that prayer continuously over the last few weeks. Whoever penned it, spoke to my soul.

Protector, without You NOTHING is strong, NOTHING is holy. With you we live through what is temporary without losing the eternal.

What I offer today is testimony.

I believe that testimony is important. It is a gift we can offer to those around us.  It has only been in the last ten years or so that I have developed a more clear understanding of what testimony is.  As a youth, I believed it was telling people your salvation story, of when you prayed the prayer (y’all did know you let a Baptist in the pulpit, right?) That wasn’t a very exciting story–I claimed Christ as my savior at five years old; my daddy baptized me. And that was it. Not much to tell.

As I have grown, I realize that testimony isn’t that at all. It’s about all the ways God works in your life. It’s big and it’s small. And it’s necessary to witness to each other.

At the age of forty, Steven and I experienced the loss of three grandparents and two pregnancies in a short year. It was one of the hardest personal years I have experienced. We lost two more pregnancies in the two years that followed. I struggled with daily tasks. Just getting out of bed was a chore. I felt broken.

In my devotions after one of the losses, I read the story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus. Both Martha and Mary say to Him that had He been there, Lazarus would not have died. My devotion book pointed out the boldness of saying this to God.

But it emboldened me to say it as well. “God, if You had wanted to, this could’ve ended differently.”

It’s important to remember that in the story neither Martha nor Mary deny who Jesus is or His omnipotence or omniscience.  And that what He wants to do from that point is ok with them.

Christ points out that what has happened is to glorify the Father.

I was challenged by this last part and wondered if I held my grief so tightly that the Father couldn’t do what He needed to do, and better yet, wanted to do?

With each loss, it has been faith that helped me survive. I tried to focus on the promises of scripture, specifically Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I don’t think this necessarily made the events any easier to handle.  But it kept me from making subsequent choices that may have compounded the pain and struggle I was experiencing.  Tears were (and honestly are) still shed. Anger was still expressed. Confusion was still felt.

But instead of keeping all those feelings to myself, I share them with God. I am confident in His being able to handle whatever I bring to Him.  Mary and Martha show me that. I followed His lead and nudging. I admitted my weaknesses and together Steven and I continue to work through our experience. We help each other let God help us.

Walking through suffering gives each of us a unique perspective to offer.  In my journey, I have learned to make myself vulnerable and to take opportunities to share what we have experienced.  God has used me to help others grieve and to, in my small way, support families who survive pregnancy loss. Friends know that I am open to talking about loss–the emotional and the physical.

But He has also used our experience to guide choices we make that have nothing to do with pregnancy.

We felt confident making decisions about changes in our lifestyle and the way we wanted to live; I left my job of twenty years without knowing if we would grow our family with a child. We wanted to make choices that pointed to our trust in God’s plan. Eternal joy in knowing that everything that happens can be for the good if we let God do His thing.

Testimony is important.  We remind each other that what we live each day is not always easy. By focusing on God’s promises we can sing and clap with the mountains and rivers.  By focusing on God’s promises we can survive the temporary with His strength and not lose the eternal.

As we share the Lord’s meal, may we remember with joy what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is yet to do.  Amen.

Sermon written and offered today November 13, 2022, by Lay person Season Lahr.

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