This morning at church, a good friend of mine preached an excellent sermon. He and his family are preparing to move to a new state and a new ministry opportunity. This morning was his opportunity to bring before the church, what God had laid upon his heart–parting words of honesty and encouragement.
He spoke about Psalm 1, the text of which is below:
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
What a beautiful Psalm this is. My friend focused on the importance of being rooted and grounded in God’s Word. That the only way to prosper is through meditating on God’s word day and night. And he spoke about our church, Seaford Baptist.
You see, our church has been through much in the past several years. Stuff that could have divided a church not just in half, but into pieces. Stuff that could have shaken the faith of a church’s foundation, if it were not led by godly leadership, or if it were not rooted and grounded in the word of God and the worship of God. Stuff that would be terrifying for any minister or church member. Stuff that makes ministry hard.
And yet, our church has stood firm. Not only has it stood firm, it is standing fast. 1st Thessalonians 3:8 states:
8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
And this has been our church, through many staffing changes, through Hurricane Isabel, through economic hardship, and through unspeakable trauma. Seaford Baptist has stood fast. They have loved each other, loved the community, and most of all, they have loved God with all their hearts, souls and minds.
But I was a wreck after this sermon.
Because, you see, my family was part of that long list of difficulties that my friend created. My ex-husband was a staff member that is now in prison for doing the unthinkable, the unbelievable. And this morning, hearing that there is a list and knowing my ex-husband is a part of that list absolutely broke my heart. Even now it is hard to catch my breath as I write this, because the grief it produced in hearing it from the pulpit is so tangible and real. It was a tough Sunday. Honestly, it still is a tough Sunday. My heart still hurts.
But my God is merciful. I am reminded that this Psalm not only applies to my beautiful church that I love so much, but also needs to be applicable to me and to my family. We are still standing. We are standing fast. And it is all due to God’s mercy and grace. He not only has been merciful to Seaford Baptist Church, but merciful to me and my children as well. We are still in this church, who has loved us and cared for us when they could have turned their back on us. We are surviving day by day, something that seemed so impossible when our life fell apart with the arrest of my husband and my children’s father.
And so, I barely made it to the car this morning before weeping. Because of grief. Because of embarrassment. Because of sadness to have to be a part of what has been so hard for my wonderful church. And yet I have to go back to the scripture of the morning–Psalm 1. It is through meditating on God’s Word Day and night that roots me like a tree near a stream of water. I want to be like that tree. I want to be like that tree, that yields fruit in that season (Oh, God, when will that season be??) and whose leaf does not wither. I do not want to be an ungrounded tree, with withering leaves. Dead. Useless. No, I want to be rooted and grounded in God’s word.
I’d like to be able to say that I am completely settled now, but I’m not. I’m still a bit goofed up. But I am grateful for my friend for preaching honestly and biblically. I am incredibly grateful for a church that has stood fast through so many things, and who has loved my family and I. And I have spent time with my crew today, who know how to bring joy to my heart without even trying. And I’ve spent time studying and writing about this passage–doing scripture work on Psalm 1-to bring myself to a more settled position tonight. Because that is what God’s word does, it transforms and renews the mind and soul.