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After the Storm

On February 17, 2017, my life and the life of those she loved changed forever.  My wife had been battling clinical depression and lost that ...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

O Come to the Altar

So dating-I've decided to take a break at least for a little while.  I had felt that I was in a good mental and emotional state to get back out there.  And I still believe I am.  I don't regret any of the dating I've done so far. I have learned so much about people and what I like and don't like, and have learned how to articulate that when I am getting to know someone.  I've also regained confidence in my worth to a potential future partner. I have a lot to offer in a relationship. However, I realize that I am not yet in a healthy place spiritually.  I don't want to bring in the spiritual junk that I am dealing with to a relationship.  I want to create a good foundation. And to do that, I need to focus on taking action leading me back to God and back to community.  Community and fellowship have always been so important to me and I am missing that part of my life.  I don't know when I will be ready again to date.  It could be a month, several months, a year or longer.  What I do know is I want to take steps to re-engage with God, and that should be my focus right now.

So I tried church again for the first time in months. Went to a Saturday service and also a Sunday service, both at churches I am not a member of.  On Saturday, at the beginning, the worship team came out and were all filled with such joy and happiness. At first it was odd to me for some reason, like maybe they were faking it? (I'm sure they weren't). I didn't really sing, but did clap my hands.  I didn't sing not because I didn't want to mainly, but because I had never heard the songs before, they were all new to me.

Saturday's service was about why we don't need to fear our future.  I have been feeling a lot of this lately, especially knowing that I am starting from scratch in a lot of areas in my life.  The pastor brought up this verse:
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalms 23:6 (KJV)
He identified goodness as the things God gives us that we don't deserve. Mercy is God preventing us from getting what we deserve. It was a powerful idea to me, and something I hadn't really thought of before when I've heard "Goodness and Mercy" spoken about before. He also talked about how God's glory is waiting for us in heaven.

It really got me thinking past my circumstance that I am in. I asked myself, "what are some of the good things I have in my life?" I have a great family that loves and supports me and has shown that to me in spades in these past few months. I have a great job with a great school district that has been like a family to me through all of this.  I have great friends that have come along side me just wanting to be with me, hang out with me, and be a support to me in which ever way they can. My church community at the time truly acted out the church. They ministered to my needs and came around me with prayer, their time, and love. I have my health, both physically and mentally.  The mental portion could have easily been destroyed through all of this.  I am in the best physical shape I have ever been in since my early 20s. I have regular gym habits. I'm eating better, choosing better foods, and eating in moderation.

When I take a step back and really look at my life, I do have a lot of good things going for me.

I also was thinking about what God has done throughout my whole life.  He provided me with opportunities in college to connect with some really cool people and together we were able to learn about God in deep and meaningful ways. I have experienced intense Mark bible studies at Catalina with Intervarsity CSUF. I've had the opportunity to co-lead a men's bible study.  And also be a part of the leadership of a small group (F3 at Newsong). I was part of a Jr. High/High School ministry team that ignited a passion for youth for me.  Been a part of a summer arts camp where I connected with the kids, which started my journey to becoming a teacher. I've been on the worship team leading people in praise and met some awesome people who were passionate about what they did and had such talent, and was using that talent to honor God.  God has used me in the past in many different ways. And I am hopeful that I will have future similar experiences that I will be able to share with others.





They say hindsight is 20/20. God has been working in my life when I take a step back and look at it. It is hard right now getting that perspective.  It's getting better, but the pain of what happened hits me every day.  For a while now, Elaine's favorite verse which I had put on her gravestone had been so confusing to me.

"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." -Jeremiah 29:11
I had mulled over this verse so many times these past few months. How could what happened to Elaine been anything but harmful, hopeless, and full of despair for the future? I began to realize over the past few weeks that maybe this verse was not only for Elaine, but also for me. Does the Lord want to protect me from harm (with His mercy)? Does He want to prosper me (with His goodness)? And give me a future (with His glory)? I know that it will take a lot more faith on my part to get to the point where I can truly believe this.

Someone who had experienced similar loss shared this verse with me recently.
"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born," says the Lord.           -Isaiah 66:9
As I read some of the verses following that one in context, it gave me the image of God holding me on his knees wanting to hold me and comfort me through all of this. It also gave me a hope that my story is not yet finished.  Just as He used me in the past, He has plans for me for my future. He wants to use what has happened to birth something that will minister to people. I just need to have faith as small as a mustard seed in a God that is much greater than my circumstance.

At Sunday service, the first song during worship was "Come to the Altar" by Elevation Worship. Elaine's recent favorite worship song and group. My friend told me that they never have done that song before-God and his timing. God wants me to come back to the altar.  His arms are wide open ready to embrace me again.

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