The family we are staying with brought us to their church this morning. Ever since I arrive here I have had a sense of nastalgia remembering my college days. For those of you who don't know the history, my family moved to Ohio after my freshman year of high school. We lived in the very small town of Jackson, OH. I graduated from high school there. I went on to study nursing at Cedarville College here in Cedarville, OH. So, I spent a lot of time in Ohio, but I haven't been back since I graduated college ten years ago.
The church we went to this morning was a very small congregation, as are most of the churches out here. They aren't huge like our churches in Colorado, where you can kind of get lost in the crowd if you wanted too. People of course recognized us as newcomers and were very kind and welcoming. We told them that we were here for Henry's surgery and they said they would be praying for him. I feel that the Lord has been using the kindness of strangers to show His love to me. Prior to us coming here I had a night at work where a Christian family did something similar. I can't say a lot because of confidentiality, but basically this family was there because their child was in the hospital at the time. I was their childs nurse. I of course was there to take care of their child, but they used their time at the hospital to speak God's word to me. The father of my patient was like a walking Bible. Every time he opened his mouth God's word came out. It convicted me greatly, that I too need to hide His word in my heart. They also asked me to come to the room for a time of prayer. I thought we would be praying for their hospitalized child. Rather, they prayed for Henry and for me. I can't hardly put into words what this meant to me and how it ministered to my heart. This was right in the middle of that battle with the insurance company. The Lord used them to comfort me with His word.
I have to admit that during that whole battle with the insurance company my heart was not always in the right place. I couldn't believe the anger and frustration I felt. It was not a coincidence that the preacher this morning spoke about Jonah. God's word is a double edged sword and this morning it cut me to the core. When I thought that God had closed the door for us to come out here, I became so cast down in my heart. I also became full of anger. And I told the Lord how mad I was. I didn't understand why He would take us so far down a path only to then shut the door on us being able to get Henry the help that he needs. Not only that, but I think that over the past two years, I have sort of kept a list in my mind of all the unfair things that God has allowed into my life. Matt loosing his job, me having to go back to work with four kids, having a sick child, and then what I thought was God closing the door on Cincinnati. I felt like God was giving me sort of a raw deal. I guess I had some expectations about how my life ought to be, and God hasn't really been fullfilling my expectations. In my anger and tears, I thought about the verses in Peter "Consider it pure joy my brother when you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces perserverance . . ." I thought, where is that joy? I know from Paul's discussion in Philippians he found joy even in prison, inspite of his circumstances, why couldn't I?
The pastor today talked about Jonah and how he got so angry with God because things really weren't turning out the way he expected. He talked about how it takes the "hard stuff" of life, the disappointments like the loss of a job, and illness, and unexpected diagnosis, an attack on your reputation, challenges in your marriage, etc. to reveal the idols in our hearts. It's only when we are under fire that we see what our hope was in, rather than God. I guess that I've been putting a lot of hope in a cure for Henry, I've been so desperate for it, that perhaps it's become all encompassing, it's taken all my energy, it's become an idol. When we want something so badly, when we want something more than we want to know and love God, it becomes and idol. I hadn't thought of it that way, until today. I knew I was having a temper tantrum this week, but I hadn't seen the cause as me having an idol in my life. It was liberating to recognize it, and to be able to repent and know that, like he did Jonah, God still loves me. It helps to know that God used Jonah in such a big way, to save a nation, even after the big fit that he threw. I'm glad we have a Bible full of stories about real people with real problems,. And God uses to do great things in spite of their humanness. AMEN!
Also, it happens that there are several doctors that go to the church we visited this morning. One of the doctors was actualy the preacher this morning! Another doctor was a friend of the doctors that we are staying with. He is doing his residency and after I talked to him he wrote down Henry's name. He said that he is working this Friday night and would come by and see us after the surgery. It's just so cool to me how the Lord has put these people in our path. It's such a comfort to already know several doctors who work at the hospital, including the people we are staying with. Even more, they are believers and are praying for Henry!
It has been so clear to me that God ordained this trip. He is putting me at peace each day and confirming that He has it all worked out.
"From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. Salvation comes from the Lord." Jonah 2:2b-6a
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Jonah 2:8