20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Well, when God wants me to hear His voice, He sends me signs, quiet clear words - often echoed by other people. Today was one of those amazing and powerful days when I realize how much God is speaking. I just need to listen.
I went to church, happy to be in a warm, safe place where I could experience fellowship and just praise God. One of my Sunday school students ran out in ten degree weather to say hi in his new T-shirt, which he couldn't wait to show me. We frequently discuss video games, one of his all time favorite topics, and he ran out there to show the phrase of the day so boldly printed in green - "If I'm not sweating, then I haven't played video games enough!" It was so nice to see his joy, his excitement, his happiness.
I went inside, said hi to several people, and went to sit down. It wasn't long at all before the service started - I had gotten there late due to the weather. I stood up to sing.
We have a wonderful band at our church that plays modern Christian music. I always feel at peace as I enjoy the songs, a chance to praise god and to focus solely Him, not on me. I felt God's love as I gave all the stress of the last few days over to Him and thanked Him for all he has done for me. I praised him for the neighbors who happened by me yesterday and helped me put on my donut tire after I had a flat. I thanked Him for making sure I had enough money to have a new tire put on my car and for it happening on a Saturday instead of a school day. I thanked God for the fact it happened when I was going 10 miles and hour and not 70. I thanked Him for everything.
A few songs later, a couple of lyrics hit me to the core and I began to cry. When I was saved, the same thing happened, and sometimes the lyrics ring of such simple truth that I get emotional. Anyway, one of the lyrics really pointed out how this world is not the way Jesus intended it to be, that we are supposed to be his hands and feet, show compassion. I thought of my ex and our conversations the last few days, and my heart ached for him, that he seemed unable to come to terms with his need for alcohol. So when they asked people to come forward if they had special prayer requests, it made sense to go up to the altar.
I asked the pastor to pray for my ex, that he was struggling with his addiction, that he'd lost his job, that he was in the hospital, that he needed God's help. This act may seem odd to some, but it helped me let go of any self-perceived control over the whole situation. As my pastor and the congregation prayed for him, one of the elders, who would never speak up as he did today (this according to people who have gone to this church forever), said in a firm, caring voice that resonated through the entire room as I walked back up the aisle, "Realize there is nothing you can do for him. When he is ready to let God help, God will be there, but there is nothing you can do for him right now."
I walked to my seat, stunned, tears streaming down my face. Back in March, April, and May of last year, those were virtually the same words I had heard over and over in my head as I had tried to grapple with the ex's drinking. This is not your deal. This is not your deal. I heard that same phrase from the time I asked Jesus to come into my heart to the day I prayed to him when the ex was choking me. I heard it so often, it almost became my mantra. The phrase gave me an objective perspective when he ranted and blamed me for his troubles. And here it was again, the same phrase once again.
Jules told me the same thing the night before when she recommended I block his e-mails, I just read a fellow blogger's comment to my previous post, and she said the exact same thing. (Thanks, Cheryl)
Wow! I get it. I get it and I let it all go to God. If I truly have the faith I claim to have, how dare I question God's ability to take care of this man and his struggles. How dare I interfere or enable. I get it.
Time to move forward and listen to what God truly wants me to do to glorify His name. I will never stop praying for this man, but I think I am finally past my false belief that I have any power to help him. I will leave that awesome task to God.