Standing at the Chapel Door

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It’s my wedding day, and the idea that everything will be different from this point forward terrifies and excites me. Three years of dating had taught me a lot about Josh, but I knew marriage would be an entirely new experience.

Those years of dating were full of questions:

  • Was he the one God had for me; the one I would spend my life with?
  • Did we have similar ideas regarding marriage, family, finances and our futures?
  • Would he make me happy?
  • What if we got married — committed ourselves to one another — and then discovered some horrible secret or character flaw?
  • What if I was wrong?

Talking out our fears and anxiety, we wrestled with each question together and privately. Praying, seeking God’s direction, and believing that if we genuinely desired His will God would not steer us wrong.

So we arrived at our wedding day.

Curled, powdered and covered in satin, standing at the doorway to the chapel, I recognized the importance of that first step inside; there would be no turning back. Confidently walking forward, my arm looped through my dad’s, I welcomed the commitment ahead.

Over ten years have passed since that day, and there have been surprises and trials for us to work our way through. Not all the surprises have been bad, and the trials have made us stronger and closer. Never once have we given ourselves the option of running away from our commitment or doubting the path God has led us on.

Normally these types of posts are written on wedding anniversaries or birthdays, but mine is prompted by the similarities I am experiencing on the brink of a new commitment.

Over the past few months Josh and I have been wondering what God was bringing us to Washington for, and where we would serve once we were up here. We felt pressure and anxiety to find a new church right away.

Like my dating experience, the questions in my mind regarding our decision were all about me: 

  • Do I like the worship, preaching style, decorations and children’s programs?
  • What kind of opportunities do they have for me to use my calling and giftings?
  • Are they welcoming and friendly? Do I see people I’d like to get to know better?
  • What if we start going here and it turns out bad? What if they just want to use us?
  • What if we’re wrong?

We believe we’ve found our church

Today, I recognized that once again I am standing at the door to a chapel. The time for fear and anxiety is past, and my questions need to change.

On the day of my marriage, the only thing I needed to ask was: “How can I be a godly wife for Josh? What can I do to serve him?” No longer could it be all about me, because I was now one with another.

In committing to a church, much like a marriage, the question needs to be: “How can I serve the leadership and congregation of this church?” No longer can it be about what they do to serve me or feed me. We are told to be more concerned about the needs of others than ourselves. That we will be known by our love for one another.

My marriage has lasted over ten years because of my commitment to Josh and to God, and trusting Him to work in my relationship. If I had based it on my feelings and personal ideas of happiness, there might have been a few times I would have chosen to bail out. Today I am wiser, happier and a better person because of the things Josh and I have been through together.

I believe the same thing can be true as I commit myself to the leadership and fellowship of a new church family.

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Five Minute Friday: Still

I must begin today’s post by gloating over the fact that I got to eat dinner with the fantabulous Keri from Pop Parables last night, and meet in person the wonderful men in her life! There’s something about breaking bread together that seems to solidify a relationship, and it felt so familiar and comfortable to be sitting around chatting over a meal as our kids blasted each other with squirt guns in her backyard. This is what I love about social media! I am forever grateful to yet another great lady, Angela at The Coupon Project, for introducing us.

Ok, enough gloating…

I missed out on Five Minute Friday last week, and I truly did miss it. Today, Lisa-Jo is hosting it over at (In)Courage! So, take five minutes, ponder what “still” means to you, and let it all slip out for us to enjoy!

GO

The house is quiet, finally, and I can hear the ticking of the clock that’s hung on the wall since my childhood over the tapping of the computer keys. It’s strange to be back in the house of a parent, when I’m now a parent myself. There’s grace here for the give and take of parent and child. Although I have my own to raise, I’m still a daughter and remember to respect my elders.

Josh is working tomorrow, a temporary (maybe) job that requires him to be up and out by 6 AM. He hasn’t had a schedule like that for over five years. We have to adjust to a new pace of life, and for all of the changes that accompany a move. Weather, allergies, nature, family; all things that have grown unfamiliar in our time away.

We’ve been worried, just a little, as our plans remain uncertain and our financial cushion dwindles. Our faith becoming more an act of will than a bold declaration inspired by feelings. That’s ok though, God is good through it all and His actions are not dependent on our feelings. 

For now, my mind finds a sense of peace, settling around the thought as the house settles around me…

He is God still.

STOP

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Foolish Enough to Trust God

When looking back on the lives of men and women of God, the tendency is to say, “What wonderfully keen and intelligent wisdom they had, and how perfectly they understood all that God wanted!” But the keen and intelligent mind behind them was the mind of God, not human wisdom at all. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the divine guidance of God being exhibited through childlike people who were “foolish” enough to trust God’s wisdom and His supernatural equipment. {Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest}

As I’ve been thinking about it, I am amazed that anyone is able to understand God. Why are we all not constantly misunderstanding Him?

Or are we?

The prophets wrote about Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death without having any idea what it would actually look like. Scholars debate and hypothesize over John’s revelation, trying to pinpoint what the timeline for the “end times” will be.

My two-year-old asks, “Why? Why? Why?

Our nature wants an explanation for everything in life. The explained can be controlled; mystery can be as unruly as that same two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.

Search through scripture, and discover the instance after instance of God hiding His plan from His people. There was no spitefulness or malice in His actions, they just did not need to know. In the fullness of time His plans are revealed.

Even upon revelation, the wise may find His ways to be foolish; just as the paths of the wise are foolishness to Him. Solely through the interpretation of the Spirit can we attempt to understand the ways of God.

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Guest Post :: Sanelle Ndebele

This is my last week of guest posters! I hope you have enjoyed getting to know some new people around the blogosphere as much as I have loved introducing them to you. Today my guest writer comes to you all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa! Sanelle shares her story of faith in God when all of her plans go awry. Her trust in God and willingness to follow despite the circumstances is inspiring!

I Have Seen Him Who Sees Me

I’ve always had a plan. To that the journals I’ve kept since I was 15 can testify. My plan was to finish High School in 2009 then go on and study Law in Australia, be a great lawyer, marry a lawyer, be a motivational speaker, have babies and live happily ever after.

Well, I’m sure we all know life rarely turns out the way we had planned.

In 2008 just after I had finished my AS level it was decided that I was to go to University the following year. I got a place at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) to study Accounting. Pause. That was NEVER part of the plan. And as if that was not enough, that same year I got into University I was diagnosed with Primary sclerosing cholangitis.

I went from broken to ruined in 3 months. All that I once believed, knew for sure was deflated. The ground beneath my feet had shifted without a warning. Life as I knew it ended as I took on another path, the very unfamiliar path of living with an incurable illness.  The kingdom of me was shattered.

Everything else that once mattered to me did not anymore. All I wanted was for God to spare my life. All of a sudden I stopped making plans, quit dreaming. What use was it to dream when I wasn’t sure I would live long enough to fulfill those dreams?

I spent most of my days crying, pleading with God. During that time I felt in all of me that my whole life depended on God. If that truth was ever clouded in my mind, it was during that time that it was demystified. I sought God with all my heart. My whole being was desperate for God. It really felt like I was clinging onto the hem of Jesus’ garment desperate for him to heal me.

The days went on as I continued to take my medication which I was told I would have to take for probably all my life OR until I got a liver transplant. I hate medication so more than anything I wanted God to heal me just so I could stop taking the pills. My parents cried and pleaded with God daily that He would heal me. You have to understand that I am the youngest child in my family so this hit my parents real hard as I was still “their baby.”

To cut a very long story short, in that journey of seeking God daily to heal me there is a day that stands out for me. It was 3 months after the diagnosis. My mum and her friend [both of them in Botswana] were fasting for me. That wasn’t the first time anyone had fasted for me. I was at school, in the middle of a lecture when I started trembling uncontrollably. I felt really cold like there was a very strong wind blowing only towards me. I don’t remember all the details except for the trembling but I also remember that I walked out of class before the lecture was over.

I spent some 30minutes trying to make sense of the incident. When I felt calm enough I called my mum and told her what had happened. I remember telling her that if the heavens had ever been shaken by anyone’s prayers it must have been on that day. I knew I had been healed. Months of seeking God had refined my faith. I just knew I had been healed. As they say, when you know you know. So, I just knew.

I stopped taking my pills that same day [although I would never encourage anyone to do that. My mum is a nurse and I’m told daily that pills should be taken according to the doctor’s orders/instructions]. My prayers changed that day from begging for healing to thanking God for healing me.

I went for reviews every 3 months and the doctors were somewhat surprised by the significant improvements in my health. By the way, only one cousin of mine knew I had stopped taking my pills. I’ve been going for reviews till now and my last review was on March 31 this year. On that last review the doctor told me that, in her own words, “I’m making them scratch their heads.”  All my blood test results and the last scan that I did show that I’m perfectly fine! I will be going for the last review on April 28 when I will be discharged.

The doctors think it was either a misdiagnosis or a rare case of a miraculous healing. I know it is the latter because I am the one who had the yellow eyes, whose whole body was itchy (including my scalp, palms and beneath my feet), I am the one who shaved her head as I couldn’t handle the itching, I am the one that got blisters on my toes each time I scratched, I am also the same person who saw 9 doctors and counting hoping one of them would be able to help, I am the one who had exorbitant amounts of bilirubin in my system and as a result my skin got darker apparently that was burning my skin, I am also the same person who spent most of her days in bed tired all the time, suffered from diarrhea, nausea, lost so much weight and spent 3 months before the diagnosis scratching and not knowing what was wrong with me. I lived with the pain, the itching oh the itching! and the despair of not knowing.

It’s been 2 years now, and I must say now I know for sure that I am not forgotten and although I don’t necessarily have a plan anymore, I know God has a plan not only for the whole world but also for me as an individual. Also this whole experience has taught the importance of having your own faith. Sometimes God speaks to you and you just know! We don’t need anyone to believe us, justify what we know or approve of it. When you know you know, without seeking proof or evidence and that to me is what faith really means.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… ~ Isaiah 43:1-3 [NIV]

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” ~ Genesis 16:13 [NIV]

UPDATE 4/28/2011: She got discharged and is perfectly fine!

Sanelle Ndebele is a 20-year-old woman from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is in her 3rd year of University, and still doing Accounting. She is living an “unplanned” [on her part] life but trying to embrace God’s plan for her. She has dreams and has since begun dreaming with God. She is discovering more of Him each day and desperate for Him to have His will in her life. You can read more at her blog, Depths of My Soul.