The air felt like spring, despite it being in the middle of the North Carolina summer. Hannah and I sat outside in metal chairs at the South Commissary Starbucks reading our Bibles, sipping on steamed coconut milk and iced coffee. She’d officially moved in the day before, and her husband Matthew would be following her here mid-September. My journal sat open on my lap, my skirt flowing in the breeze.
The weekend overall had been rough in the area of missing Jacob, and part of me wanted to wallow and do nothing (sad, I know). But here, sitting in the sun on this Sunday morning, I had time to invite God into the dialogue that I had thus far only been having with myself.
On top of the emotions concerning Jacob, that morning in chapel I would be reading Scripture in front of the entire congregation, which was something Jake used to do. And he did it so well. What if I mess up? I thought there in the sun. What if I totally misrepresent my husband? Gosh, misrepresent God? What if I trip on the stage? Or read the wrong passage and read it too quickly? Or knock over the podium and somehow destroy the sound system and the lights go out and the whole service has to be canceled?
I pulled out my pen, sipped some coffee, and started praying onto the page.
It came down to my praying for the service, as I’d done almost every Sunday morning since five months ago, when in the same chapel I’d be going to this morning I’d been challenged to not simply judge the people in the congregation, or simply analyze and critique the sermon, or be put off when the worship didn’t go smoothly, but to actually pray for the people involved in putting the service together…oh yeah! I can do that! So I prayed for the chaplains, for the unity of the congregation, for the worship team and the sound guys, and the hospitality committee.
Hannah and I eventually left and headed to chapel, and I got to tell the hospitality people that I’d prayed for them, and had a pretty long conversation with one chaplain, Justin, about how God had been “enhancing” the chapel service each Sunday, at least for me, as I’d been praying for it…I feel like I’ve gotten more out of each Sunday and been more willing to give more of my time or effort because of the practice and what He was doing in my heart. It was much easier to worship freely and fully, to meet new people, and to gain insight, challenge, and encouragement from the sermons. It’s been really awesome 🙂
And that’s how the service was. And I read the Scripture just fine, and didn’t trip on the stage or bring down the house (hehe), and I didn’t forget anything. I kept remembering that, again, even if in the worst case scenario those things did happen, God was still God, I was still His daughter, and He still loved me completely. Even and especially in the small things I had to practice moving out of faith and not out of fear. The hope is that the more I practice this in the small things, the “easier” the big things will be, and the smaller and less intimidating fear will become.
And then after the sermon, in which the chaplain challenged the congregation to risk transparency with each other, confess their sins to one another, and even to pray in a way that allows our will to be overturned by God’s will (James 5:13-20) I went into the kitchen of the chapel to help with serving the people who wanted coffee, donuts, etc., without stress or panic.
As I was walking through the kitchen, Justin (the chaplain coordinating hospitality for that morning and the person I’d spoken to before the service) mentioned this grand idea about my setting up and leading a kind of regular faith-based meet up for military wives who just needed friends. I suddenly experienced a small amount of panic.
I know my own tendency to stretch myself far too thin. And now I didn’t have a reason to not take on this new endeavor of helping these women in this chaplain’s battalion.
But what about the ladies I’m already investing in and trying to pray for and pay attention to? What about everything going on with the Navigators? What about everything Jacob desires for me to accomplish while he’s deployed? What about all of the other things and plans and ideas God has laid on my heart?
After chapel, Hannah and I went to my friend Christie’s surprise birthday party, and I was reminded yet again of how awesome fellowship is 🙂 I walked into the house where the party was being prepared before Christie arrived, and immediately felt loved by everyone in there. And then Christie came! And she felt loved!
…There was just a lot of love…
For the rest of the afternoon, post birthday party, Hannah and I talked, worked out, worked on things, read, talked some more, and I felt very full. I had missed her as a friend. The day had been productive and satisfactory. Worshiping God had been wonderful. Everything was hopeful all over again, not necessarily because everything had gone well, but because I remembered how God moves on our behalf through life, and how He’s always going to be God, and He’s always going to do His part. He simply asks that we do ours, and move with Him despite our fears of tripping on the stage of life, knocking off the podium, and turning off the lights.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)