Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. Psalm 26:1-3 (ESV)
I shared that scripture two years ago. It had been a constant prayer of mine. Stepping into ministry, I didn’t want there to be anything unclean in me that would hinder my walk or the calling God placed on my life. I didn’t want there to be anything in me that could cause harm to the Lord’s ‘little ones’. Little did I know the fire and testing I would walk through these last few years. Physically, mentally, spiritually.
I haven’t gotten it all right in the last two years, but I’ve grown closer and deeper to God than I ever thought possible, and as far as my human mind can understand, there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t trust Him fully. I’ve been tried and tested. My heart. My mind. And there will probably be more in the future as God seeks to remind me of His precepts if I should waver. I see things differently than I did before, things such as our love is our greatest tool when it comes to being Jesus’s hands and feet. Not our fiery words from the pulpit, or our pointing fingers. Love.
Yesterday marked a two year anniversary off sorts. It was somewhat the beginning of one of the toughest trials we’d endure as a family. It was the beginning of another testing.
Two years ago yesterday, Cody Rich came home from the shop. His stomach was uncomfortable. Enough so that he was unable to carry on working, which was very out of character for him given he considered providing for his family a high honor, and his word to customers was #1 one. So, for him to take time out of a busy schedule…. we knew something wasn’t right and took him to an after hours clinic and then on to the ER where he was diagnosed and treated for an ulcer. Of course, my husband, being stubborn refused MRI, CT and sonogram.
A few years ago, I probably would have thrown myself into a huge ball of self-pity and wallowed in it because of my lot in life. I probably would have shaken my fist toward heaven and hollered at the unfairness. Somewhere in those few years I’ve learned that the testing and the fire is an honor. It was an honor for Daniel to be thrown in the lion’s den. It was an honor for the king to pray for Daniel’s safety. It was an honor for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedengo to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
To the world they were being cursed. Thrown to their deaths. Instead God’s glory surrounded them, and God was glorified when they came out unscathed.
There is a lot to share of my journey. There have been times of isolation, of hiding in the cave waiting for that still small voice. There have been times of walking along beside people, times of crying, times of building walls and tearing them down.
I’ve been sensing it’s time to find my nest. A place to land and call home. I just don’t know what that looks like, yet, but I know God will let me know. One thing I am certain of is God is sending me out into the highways and byways. I was given those direct instructions in a dream last Thursday, which was timely. God’s time.
Yesterday, instead of dwelling on what isn’t and bawling my eyes out, I worked on a new story, worked an 8 hour shift, hung out with some awesome folks doing street (highways and byways) ministry (in an area Cody and I had done a prayer walk in 2012), and then went to the gym with a friend where we met a young woman who liked to give hugs. Cody loved to give hugs.
Folks, life can be hard, but you don’t have to allow depression a foothold. Daniel prayed. He didn’t stop. Sharach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to put any man or false god above the One True God. Depression can become an idol. Whoa-is-me can become an idol. Don’t let it. Get up. Move forward. Put on a garment of praise and worship Jesus through the storm. And when you don’t know what to do or what to say, be still and know He is God. Psalm 46:10 He is supreme. He knows all. He knows our comings and goings. He knows our first breaths and our lasts.