Testing faith…

Yesterday one of our pastors gave a really beautiful sermon. He started with two questions:

  • Do I believe that God is Sovereign; and
  • If so, does my life reflect that I believe God is?

So what does that mean, exactly?

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Revelations 22:13

God is the beginning and the end, and everything in between. He knows all things, planned all things and nothing can thwart His plans. Even with our free will, even with all the choices we make in life, He will use our veering off for His good, and our good, along the way as He works out the end result. And all things will glorify Him in the end.

That is the simple, and the complex sum, of sovereignty.

Ryan led us through the Bible, citing many passages that speak to this sovereignty. And as we’re going through and building momentum, I find myself asking the question over and over.

Do I believe personally that God is sovereign?

I do.

I have seen His hand in my life over and over. No matter how badly I have screwed up. No matter the choices I’ve made, I can always see His hand in these things and how I come back to His fold time and again.

Ryan then made a statement in the form of another question: Why does God allow difficult things?

If that isn’t that age-old question.

Isaiah 46:10b (paraphrased) reminds us that everything is done to accomplish His purpose.

And what is that purpose?

2 Timothy reminds us that He has called us to a Holy calling — but even in that we are not meant to know all things.

Do I believe God is Sovereign?

I do.

I believe He is real. I believe He knit me specially in the womb. I believe He knows me personally and loves me deeply. I have come to know that ALL of my circumstances are for my benefit and His Glory.

So, if I believe He is sovereign, do I live my life in a way that reflects this? What should that look like?

Hope * Peace * Joy

Do I live so others may see that I have hope in His eternal promises?

Do I have Peace that Christ has already claimed victory over everything, even death?

Do I have Joy in every circumstance?

I’d like to believe that I do. I tend to be a pretty positive person. When I learned I had cancer, my first reaction was fear — but that passed in a literal moment. I knew there was something to be learned through that struggle, that I would endure well, and that I wasn’t alone. I believed there was a reason for it, and what that reason was, I did not fully know, and might never know, but I submitted to that being okay. And it was a freeing moment.

Do I believe God is Sovereign?

I do.

And then the test.

At the end of the Sermon, when I was smugly assured that I did, in fact, believe that God is Sovereign and that I believe I live my life, generally, in a way others would know that, Ryan made an announcment.

Our lead pastor, Bryan, who I love dearly and enjoy immensely, had decided to resign from his position with our church.

{Gasp} {Shock} {Tears}

followed by {Peace}

There was no big reveal — no definitive reason why Bryan resigned — other than maybe he is being called elsewhere, or it was time, or he was tired.

Being a pastor is a super huge calling. The weight of the mantle of an entire congregation is a huge thing. So many needs, so much hurt, but I’m sure so much joy at times. But all the things all the time, has got to be heavy after time.

I can only speculate. And in the end — again — I may not need to know the reason. Bryan knows the reason — and God knows the reason.

And He will work this for His good and His glory, too.

Through my tears in that moment, through the moment of prayer that followed, through the final worship song of the day, I transformed. I went from deeply saddened, to thankful for Bryan’s time of service and all that I gleaned through his leadership, to joyful that I came to New River when I did, that I had the opportunity, the blessing to learn from him at all. That was followed by peace. Things will be okay. God’s got this.

To Hope. I have hope in the things I already know. New River is my church home. Ryan and Vernon and wonderful pastors who will continue to shepherd us until a new lead pastor is found, and God already knows who that is and He’s just waiting to share the news with us.

It’s one of the times I can look and be thankful for my time in the LDS organization. In the Mormon church, the Bishop (or lead pastor) serves about five years and then they are released from the calling and another is put in to lead. Going through that transition over and over has taught me exactly that — change is inevitable. All things have purpose. All things work together for His good.

My time there has made this transition a little easier — in a way it was preparatory for this time. And for that I am thankful.

I came home and wrote a letter to both Ryan and Bryan.

Ryan, to thank him for such a lovely sermon that was helpful in preparing me for the news to come. And Bryan, to thank him for the service he has given to me and my family. I felt a bit of closure, of peace, acceptance and love writing those notes. Will my heart be a little sad for a bit longer — of course. It’s okay to mourn something you love changing, moving on, becoming something else. But in the end, it comes back to a simple question.

Do I believe God is Sovereign?

I do.

4 Replies to “Testing faith…”

  1. Thanks so much for this, Shay. I’ve just been reading and thinking about reframing, not just trying to accept circumstances as they are, but reframing them to see what else God has for us. This would be much like much like Joseph when he said to his brothers, ‘you meant this for evil but God meant it for good’. We should look at circumstances for what they are and then reframe them to see what God has for us that is good with within his larger plan. He is good and he is sovereign.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, Paneen — it was a slight shift in my vision, but I can’t believe how quickly looking at it through the framework of having confidence in God’s sovereignty changed my perspective and my heart.


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