Tonight was my first time back at Refuge back with Matt Setliffe teaching us. Both this message and last week's resonated in my soul. It's so hard right now to write a linear story... I so want to share what was spoken into my heart this evening. But I want to make sure I tell the story God has so graciously written for me, in a way that is clear and in order. That being said, it still seems fitting that I finally get around to sharing this part of my testimony tonight.
December 7th. A Wednesday night. I remember because it was my last normal evening out.
My resounding, simple message from God - "listen daily" - in heart and hand, I went into Bell Shoals for their Wednesday night service. I had a strange little rash on my elbow from the park, and assuming it was just from a plant, I shrugged it off and came anyway. It was very uncomfortable but I truly thought nothing of it. After service, my best friend and I spent some time talking in my car. We are both feeling called to the same mission field, Italy, and because of this, we've shared many similar experiences of spiritual growth. We were discussing these, and I was sharing with her the things God had revealed to me at the park the day before.
I went into Refuge, socialized as I always do. Went to all the people I always hug hello. Finally found the friends I always sit with and excitedly reserved the entire second row for us all. The message that night is not one I'm soon to forget. It was from a series titled "Out of Context," where we explored a few key verses that are used PAINFULLY out of context, and then learn the amazing, bigger, more wonderful beauty of them all IN context. That week's message was about Jeremiah 29:11. I could never properly summarize it (especially at nearly 1 a.m.) so I HIGHLY recommend you simply listen to it here. (Out of Context, Part 4)
The message was not what I expected. This verse, though often used in business and graduate encouragement, is actually about a promise during a period of great discipline. At one point in the message, Matt said, "it's very possible... that God is disciplining some of you tonight, that you're in a season of discipline. I may not know that you're in a season of discipline. YOU know if you're in a season of discipline."
I remember this part clearly, because I sat there and nodded in agreement. Yes, I thought, I've been in those seasons. I just got out of one now! Thank you, God, for bringing me out of it!
I started to feel a strange burning pain on my legs towards the end of this message. I later went home and discovered the rash.
It wasn't until nearly a month later that I connected these two events in my mind. At the moment that Matt was teaching about discipline, I was entering into a season of it myself. As I was thanking God for bringing me out of one season, I was unknowingly entering another one... or maybe it's all the same one and God just REALLY isn't finished with me yet.
Whatever the case may be, my uninformed prayer of praise is testimony to the sovereignty of God. I mean, think about it. I was looking back, thanking Him, not realizing the massive journey He was about to bring me through! O, how funny that we try to plan ahead. We don't know what the next moment holds, let alone the next day, week, month or year! Why do we place such emphasis on our plans? Only God's Will prevails!
That night, I never would have guessed the path I was about to walk. Even tonight, I have no idea what the next chapter holds. I may be completely healed in the morning. I may get sicker. I may have to simply deal with being in the same health as I am right now. I don't know what the doctors are going to say in the coming weeks. I don't know a whole lot of anything. But what a comfort it is to know I can hold onto the One who knows it all! He's in our tomorrows before we get there, and He already knows how they'll turn out. Regardless, I know He's there with me, and for that I owe my undying gratitude and praise!