And this year as I reflect, it has been a little more emotional because of the fact that I joined our church. As I slow down and am still before the Lord, I am reminded of Isaiah 61:3 (ESV):
"to grant those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
When we started this chapter three years ago, I never imagined that I would have a beautiful headdress. In my heart of hearts, I felt like I would be wearing ashes for the rest of my life. I couldn't fathom ever replacing the spirit of mourning that I was in with gladness. At the time my spirit was weak...it was faint, but today I stand here humbly wearing a garment of praise. All of these things...the ashes to the beautiful headdress; the mourning to gladness; the faint spirit to praise...needed to happen so He may be glorified!!
When we left our church almost three years, I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to be a part of a church again...let alone be a pastor's wife. When you are broken...when you have felt pain in places that you didn't know existed, your natural response is to retreat...to protect yourself. I am thankful God gave me two godly women who LOVE Jesus so passionately walk with me through this season. One lady was my discipler and the other was a friend of the family who has spent many years walking with women through life changing events...giving them godly counsel and sharing godly wisdom. Oh, how I have been blessed by Him through these women! These women counseled me, they prayed for and with me, they shared God's word with me and they lovingly challenged me when I was not handing issues over to God.
During this chapter, the Lord gave me a new life verse. I was meeting with a lady that I was discipling, and she was going through a hard season. I naturally went to Jeremiah 29:11 to give her some words of encouragement. But as I got to the end of verse 11, the Spirit told me to keep on reading, so I did. By the time I got to the end of verse 14, I was overcome with emotion and tears filled my eyes. This was the first time in over a year, that I missed the fellowship of a church family and I felt like I was ready to be a pastor's wife again.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,”
declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Almost three years to the day the Lord has closed this chapter through joining our church. It is not a chapter that will never be read again, but a chapter that will continually be remembered and visited. A chapter that can't be forgotten because it had such a life-changing impact on me. A chapter that I will share with others when the opportunity arises, so that He can be glorified.
So, as my time of being still comes to a close, I can't help but to praise Him for giving me beauty from ashes, gladness from mourning, praise from a faint spirit so that He may be glorified through it all!!