During one Wednesday night prayer meeting, the pastor asked for volunteers to share their favorite verse. One woman immediately recited 1 Thess. 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I was so impressed, both with the fact that she could immediately name and recite a favorite verse and that the verses she chose clearly and succinctly delineated the will of God. Surely I had heard or read that passage from 1 Thessalonians, more than once even, and yet its truth fell on me afresh that night. It was decades ago and still I think of her every time I read those verses in my Bible.
I am going through a transition period, my husband and I having moved and not yet found a church home. In this transition season, I am realizing how much of my faith depended on the stuff I did. For example, I taught Sunday school so by virtue of my preparation each week, I read and studied and meditated on Scripture. Now, with no Sunday school lesson to teach, my time in God’s Word is, well, something less than it was before.
Transition is exciting and new but sometimes hard and even a little sad. I miss my friends and my church and teaching and serving. I know this season is just that, only a season, and one day we will return to “normal” (whatever that is!). And yet I feel sort of like I’m in a free fall, as I told a friend on the phone yesterday. I feel unmoored, untethered, adrift. I know it’s because my props have been stripped, however temporarily, and I’m ashamed to admit that what is left is shallow and weak. As I ruminated in an earlier post, who am I apart from the stuff I do (did)? I’m not sure I know.
I am helped in this current season by recalling that prayer meeting from so long ago and my friend’s favorite verse. This is the will of God for me, I tell myself: Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. A couple of verses later I am admonished to “hold fast.” My faith, my hope, is not what I do; it is rather fellowship with Jesus Christ–rejoicing in Him, praying to Him, giving thanks to and for Him, holding fast to Him and His Word, and trusting He will hold me fast.
This morning I prayed the following from The Valley of Vision:
O my Saviour,“A Disciple’s Renewal,” The Valley of Vision, p.182
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee…
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight…
May it be so in me–in time of transition, in times of dullness, or in times of pandemic, and, yes, even in times of widespread unrest and despair. Help me, Lord, and let my chief joy, my sure foundation, my secure hope be Jesus Christ and Him alone. All other ground is sinking sand.