Sunday, October 28, 2012

For I Know the Plans I Have for You

I sit here at the end of a very full weekend, and there is a lot that is circling both my heart and mind.  One thing I can't seem to let go of tonight, so that is what I will write about.

You see, I am losing one of the most important ministers I may ever have.  We received the news awhile ago, and it was hard to hear then, but tonight I am really grieving the loss which will come at the end of the year.

The past seven years of my life have been a roller coaster.  We joined our church a few months after one of the hardest periods of my life.  Unbeknownst to many, life at home with Joshua was still very challenging as he and I fought together to free his heart to be open to love.  I was still being rejected mightily, and he was so, so scared to let go.  In addition, I had suffered a couple of other even more enormous losses at the same time, all of which combined to create a perfect storm of heartbreak and lack of confidence in myself.

I think we had barely been at church a few months before a friend talked me into trying choir, and it was there that my true healing began.  I was able to actually feel God's presence in a way that no sermon or Scripture passage could ever help me feel.  No one at church had a clue just how much I was hurting, or what a terrible, terrible year I was coming off of.  I had yet to find a trusted circle of friends in town, and my soul was desperately in need of being gently held.

Gradually, as the words of each hymn we sang washed over me, the pain slowly eased.  I began to deeply understand God's care for me, and that I was not alone in this world unless I made the choice to be.  I was ministered to every single Wednesday evening and Sunday morning by the wonderful selections our Choir Director, Janet, placed before us. In many ways, Wednesday evening choir practice became my most intimate worship time, and it still is.  Note by note, measure by measure, line by line...God whispered in my ear of love, forgiveness, and an abundance that I had never really experienced before.  Scripture seeped in and took hold via melodies and harmonies, which never would have happened by merely reading those same passages.

Janet recently announced her retirement, and the loss will be profound.  We are sadly counting down the Sundays that remain with heavy hearts.  It will be nearly impossible to find anyone whose sensitivity, musical creativity, and quiet heart for God equals Janet's.  Having never been in a choir before, but having been in elementary, middle, high school and honor bands, it was quickly clear to me that her talent as a musician is so far above what a small little church like ours usually experiences, and we have all been incredibly blessed by her many gifts.

Today, once again, she ministered to me with the intentional selection of what is probably one of my very favorite songs we have ever sung.  (Jane, don't laugh over that one...I know...they are ALL my favorites!) She then shared with the choir that she knew I wasn't going to be present when she had originally planned to have us sing it, so she moved it to this Sunday.  Janet remembered how much this particular piece had meant to me as we waited for Angela and Olesya all those long years.  As she shared this with the choir, I couldn't help but let a few tears fall, for Janet has literally walked me musically through seven of the most challenging, rewarding, emotional years I will likely ever have.  Through healing, Kenny's adoption, waiting for long yearned for beloved daughters, the heartbreaking circumstances when we arrived for the girls and the months long period of helping them establish trust and revealing their own hearts to us, the ongoing processes of discovering and accepting the unfair limitations our children have due to circumstances that are no fault of theirs or ours, through other life changing decisions such as deciding to risk it and leap from public education to homeschooling which was an incredibly hard decision to make at a time when everything was all out of whack for us...through it all, choir has been there, music has spoken to me.

Life changes, it never stands still. No matter how desperately we wish the good things in our wouldn't change and how we wish we could just stop the hands of time, we simply can not.  Today, however, Janet's selection of my favorite song reminded me that if we truly trust  in God's leading, we will find all our needs are met, and we will live lives of hope and joy:  "For I know the plans I have for you, plans of welfare, not of evil. For I know the plans I have for you, plans of hope and a future."

Oh, how Dominick and I have relied on that very thing!!!  How I trust it completely!  And how I know there are so many who find that a foolish way to live.  God's plans may not look anything like what we think they ought to, in fact my entire life looks NOTHING like what I thought it might.

And how very, very blessed I am that it doesn't.

Change is inevitable.  Most of us realize it, and yet are so inflexible as we pursue a life that is directed by ourselves rather than God, that we miss out on those "plans of hope and a future."  Why?  If we really and truly believe the Gospel of Good News, if we really and truly believe God's promise of a new life, why is it so hard to take leaps?  Why is it so hard to believe things right before us, simply because we did not control or contrive it?  Because change is so very hard, and so very scary.  Fear of the unknown can be crippling...I know, I have felt it a time or two...or three...or four...or more.

For the past seven years, Janet has taught me through music the truth of the lyrics sung today, "If you seek Me, you shall find Me, if you search with all your heart...I will bring you out of bondage, I will bring you home to Me."  It is what I have set out to do as faithfully as I can. I have tried to seek God in all I say and do, I have answered "Yes" when my sense of self-preservation has cried out a panicked "No! No! No!" I held Josh in my arms the second day of our visitation and just knew he had attachment disorder and my soul cried out "No! No!  I don't want to go through this!" I sat in Matt's classroom for the last time just knowing God was asking me to homeschool and showing me right before my eyes where we were headed if we didn't, and my soul cried out "No! No!  I can NOT  do this!  Not with two children who will not speak English and one with severe learning disabilities!  No! No!" I sat with the phone in my shaking hand knowing I had no choice but to call and enroll in ministry courses despite having no clue why I was feeling called to do so (and still don't) as my soul cried out "No! No!  I can't do this, not me!"...and so many other times I have wanted to cry out "No! No!  Not me!  Pick someone else, PLEASE God!"

And yet when we seek God, we shall find God, and we will be brought "home". That is where I always want to be, my true home is with God.  I lived too long in the wilderness, in the bondage that only loneliness can bring.  "For I know, the plans I have for you..."  the plans GOD has for us, which oh-so-often don't match our own.  However, I'll take God's plans over mine any day.

So I will do as my Minister has shown me to do, I will trust that the plans for her life are wonderful plans of hope and a future that is filled with all the beauty she has blessed others with. I will trust that the plans of hope and a future extend to our music ministry, that God will send someone new to speak to the deepest places in our hearts.  For God's plans are for our welfare, and while it will surely never be the same, age and experience have taught me that where there is loss, if one keeps their heart softened, God can work with it to bring something different, yet equally beautiful.

For I know the plans I have for you...and they are good...and God is with us, always.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cindy. I love you, too. Janet

Anonymous said...