A few years ago my family and I moved to a new town. We craved the community of a local church body we could call home. A friend told us about a small “strange” church she’d recently tried and invited us to join her. We looked it up online, found little information and decided to try it anyway.
The first few weeks came and went with little fanfare. Our youngest was terrified of any sort of childcare program and we were little more than “careful observers.”
About a month in, a man named Vinny preached. His sermon was about the love of The Father. He shared pictures of the boys he’d be going to Ukraine to adopt and his eyes shined as he anticipated their “gotcha” day. He went on to explain how our Heavenly Father had adopted us, and what this meant. I don’t remember it being a fancy sermon with a lot of hermeneutical breakdown, but I do remember the presence of God being palpable. I do recall people weeping aloud before the altar call ever hit.
Eventually, he said words I don’t remember which ended in an invitation to come forward for prayer. I accepted this invitation. Because God’s love had felt far away, mythical even for a while now. Somewhere along the way this lie had been planted in my heart that I’d become sick and then remained sick because God was angry with me. Somehow, my circumstance had become irrefutable evidence of God’s negative feelings towards me and my soul desperately longed to remember something else. Oh yes, my mouth was still saying all the, “Jesus loves me this I know yada yada” party line stuff. But deep down my heart believed I’d surely failed him somewhere I couldn’t see and as a result, I had been cast aside, no longer loved.
I didn’t know this man who laid his hands on me to pray that day, but as he did I laid my head on his shoulder and began to weep out the pain of believing a thousand lies. It was profoundly embarrassing and wildly freeing. The woman who went back to her seat was snot-faced and changed. She saw everything through the lens of God’s love again.
Vinny is now the Pastor of his own church. His family and ours have become dear friends. Last night, our families attended service together. And as we were worshipping, singing, “You are good, good, good. You are good, good, good. Oh, You are good, good, good. You’re never gonna let me down.” The Lord asked, “Can we write this on your heart again, that I’m good?”
You see, this year has been hard. And I admit to you that while my mouth has continued to say the words, “God is good yada yada.” My heart has choked on them a bit. They haven’t always felt true. I have allowed my circumstances to tell me something other than the truth. My circumstances have said God is sometimes good.
So as we sang, I said,
“ You were good when the insurance company denied my treatment.”
“ You were good on the day I was too sick to get out of bed.”
“You were good when those people made me feel rejected, not good enough.”
“You were good when the pain seemed unbearable.”
On and on, because I needed to speak truth to myself. I needed to remind myself my circumstances do not define God’s love for me or his goodness.
And I am wondering today, if there is something you might need to say?
If you might need to remind yourself:
“You loved me when…”
“You were good when…”
Because you see, our circumstances may be all over the map, but our God is never changing. His love for us, his goodness, they’re never changing.
What do you need to remind yourself today? What is he asking to write on your heart once again?