I was raised in the church. We went as a family every Sunday. We played church volleyball, attended Sunday School, went on mission trips, attended Vacation Bible School, the works. I even met my future husband in Youth Group. It was all I ever knew and I thought I was good with God. I thought I knew what I needed to know. Looking back, I now realize that I never really had a relationship with God I was just following along like I was supposed to. And then one day, it all fell apart.
I can vividly remember waking up to the sound of the doorbell, wondering who would be ringing the doorbell so early on a Sunday morning, only to look out the window and see the Sheriff car. Most of the next few days were like a fog, but there are very vivid memories as well: the memory of telling my six year old niece and four year old nephew that their mommy was in Heaven; the memory of standing arm and arm with my brothers next to my sister’s casket saying goodbye; the memory of seeing all the men in my life weeping for my sister; and especially the memory of making snow angels in the fresh snow where she was buried that same night with my niece and nephew.
I went to church very rarely for years after my sister died. I was angry at God. I couldn’t accept that a loving God would take my sister away from me so early, would take her away from her babies so early. They needed her…I needed her. My sister wasn’t there for my wedding or the birth of my babies. Every time something good in my life happens, it’s always mixed with a longing to share the joy with her.
Less than a year after my sister died, I married my high school sweetheart who I met in Youth Group and had dated for three years. Four years later we had a son and about three years later we had a daughter. Soon after our daughter was born we finally made it back to church regularly, but it was somewhat forced on both of our parts. We both wanted our children to be raised in the church as we were so we made ourselves go. I found a home at my church and a church family who welcomed us in. We became active in that church and even attended a Young Adult group as a couple. I attended an Emmaus Walk to work on building my relationship with God. And even after all this, I still didn’t really have the relationship with God that he wanted to have with me.
Our church changed pastors, our small group fizzled out...I was left very hungry and empty. I felt that my husband didn’t want to go to church, didn’t want anything to do with church activities…I was left very angry. My husband and I began to live very separate lives at home…I was left very lonely and tired. I was craving, seeking anything to fill my soul of the void. But what I found and what I filled myself with was not what fit that void and it never truly satisfied me but only pulled me down lower and lower until I didn’t know how I was going to pull myself out. My marriage had fallen apart. This wasn’t the life I had planned. I went to church and knew God, how did this happen?
God sent a few angels into my life when they were desperately needed…not to point me in the right direction, but to open my eyes to the direction that was already there but I couldn’t see. The day my dissolution was filed, an angel convinced me to watch Courageous when all I wanted to do was numb the pain. That movie opened my eyes and I finally opened my bible once again. A few weeks later, I became consumed with the despair Paul depicted in Romans 7. I knew that was exactly where I was, but I couldn’t figure out how to pick myself up.
That’s when another angel appeared and offered to study Romans with me verse by verse because she happened to be reading Romans as well. That angel also shared these life changing words with me, “Laura, there’s a gaping hole in your soul. It’s a God shaped hole and only God is going to fit into that hole.” (I wish I would have saved that email, because that’s not exactly how she said it, but very close-it was good stuff!) That same angel also shared with me the wonderful words of Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. His Romans 8 sermon series ‘Christ Alone’ changed my life. That series was the solution I was looking for from the despair I was in.
Since these angels have come into my life, I’ve learned a lot and God has revealed a lot to me. God revealed to me that while I was waiting on everyone else to fill me, I should have been filling myself with His Word. That was an eye opener for me. I always just relied on church every Sunday to fill me. And I was always frustrated with feeling empty again by Tuesday. I was always so angry that my small church didn’t offer more throughout the week so that I could refill myself. What I was missing was that church on Sunday is only part of what I need to be doing to build my relationship with God.
Another lesson I have learned was obedience. When your gut tells you something is wrong or when it tells you that you need to do something, you need to listen. Thank God I was finally obedient when that angel asked me to watch Courageous. I could have just taken the easy way out once again and numbed the pain and continued down the wrong path. I was finally obedient, and my obedience began the domino effect of God’s Favor.
I was asked to write about “how I got so faithful” and “how did I get over what I had been through”. Well, Romans 8:1 is how I got over what I have been through. “Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t condemn me for my sins because Jesus died for my sins. Romans 8:1 tells me that if I live in Christ Jesus, there is no reason for me to condemn myself. Romans 8:1 tells me to forgive myself for what I’ve done wrong. Additionally, the bitterness and anger I was harboring as a result of my sister’s death, I turned it all over to Christ. I laid it all down on Him and began to focus on the good IN ALL things. (Romans 8:28) That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss her or long for her, but it does mean that I no longer allow the anger to consume me and rule over me.
How did I get so faithful? Once I began to fill myself and not rely on others to do it for me and began to turn to God I could see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. The domino effect of one act of obedience is endless. Even more so, when I mess up, I don’t see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. That domino effect stops in its tracks. The loss of God’s Favor grieves me so deeply that I desire to be obedient to God’s plan.
In His Love,