I have to share what I really feel like God has been clearly teaching me the last week or so. I will start with the Refocus Retreat I went on with my church last weekend.
The retreat was open to anyone and even couples could go. I really wanted John to go with me, but one of us always has to be with Jerry, at least when we are talking about being gone for more than a few hours. He went on the men's retreat in October to the Keys and so I guess this was my turn so to speak.
Our church family is still relatively new to us, even though we have been attending services there for nearly three years now. We have plugged in and serve in different places so that we are connecting and meeting new believers in our new family regularly. Our church is bigger than the last one we attended and so we can go every week and meet someone new it seems!
I am not much of an extrovert, not like John. He has an easy personality about him. He can just meet someone, strike up converstaion with them, and they are instantly friends. Me, not so much. Meeting new people can give me anxiety. I am always a little more than awkward during first introductions and those early get-to-know-you-better conversations.
It's not surprising then that, the week leading up to the retreat, I wavered between, "I can't wait for this weekend!" and "Why did I sign up for this? Is it too late to back out?" But God knew my heart and He got me there. He reminded me that I was new at my previous church once too, albeit decades ago. He also reminded me that He led us to this church for a reason and we have a purpose there as we worship beside His other children. Then, because I was still not convinced (I am really stubborn like that!), God gave me a practical "help" for the weekend. The day before I was to leave, one of the ladies' I had gotten to know only recently through a mutual Bible study we were doing, texted to ask if she could ride with me because her friend's plans had changed.
Needless to say, the drive was relaxing, it was fun to get to know her better, we stopped for lunch, and overall just had a great time of fellowship for the hour and a half it took to get to the retreat center. Without her along, I probably would have spent that time in dread over the event...picturing myself eating alone, sitting by myself, and feeling like an outsider overall. Totally the enemy, but my mind would have inevitably gone there just the same. I disclosed some of my anxieties about the weekend to my car companion. She, by the way, is an extrovert. Thanks to her, I was introduced to many wonderful new people all weekend long and always had a friend to sit/hang out with. God is good and my fears were totally unfounded.
But that was just a prelude to the meaning behind this post. Friday night at the retreat, I was back in my room settling in and I texted John to see how everyone was doing. He told me that Jerry had spent the better part of the evening paranoid and scared and talking to people not there. We had not seen an episode since the beginning of January. It was the longest stretch between episodes and I was beginning to relax, thinking the medication concoction and dosage was finally the one he needed to be on to "stay with us," at least until his next growth spurt.
I let myself get discouraged. I started questioning God. I got a little angry and a lot sad. Here we go again.
The next morning, our first session at the retreat was on a Bible study method dating back to 30 A.D. and taught by a very sweet man who was a pastoral care missionary all over the world next to his wife for 35 years. And here is the passage he chose for us to breakdown and study that morning:
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15)
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Seriously. Of all passages.
Naturally, I did what anyone desiring to blend in with the paint on the walls would do when amidst a room full of people she was just meeting and getting to know...I cried! Ugh! My small group leader was very sweet. She could tell that I was not ready to share what was on my heart and let me just sit and listen to everyone else as we went through the study.
But God was working on me. Oh, that I could have the faith of that Canaanite woman...who didn't just ask once for her daughter's deliverance and healing (even after the dsciples asked to have her sent away). No. She stayed and she pleaded, she begged. She admitted her underserving status to even have Jesus acknowledge her, let alone grant her request, but she knew by faith that He alone could grant it and so she persisted.
Have I given up? Have I accepted the doctors' diagnosis that schizophrenia is irreversible, not curable, progressively debilitating? Have I put my faith in them and their prescriptions over my God who, with and through Him, all things are posible? Ouch.
I had to be back at church Sunday morning to teach and so I missed the last breakout session at the retreat, but God had His hand in that as well. I made it back in time to attend the first service before I had to teach during the second. Pastor Mark spoke on Nehemiah 4:1-14, where the Jews were so fearful of Sanballat and his threats to destroy them in the process of their rebuilding the Jerusalem wall, that they were ready to lay down their tools, throw the towel in, and retreat.
Pastor Mark reminded us that fear keeps us from God's best. We need to pray...hard, be prepared for the doubts that will creep in, put a plan of protection in place, and post the power of God at the front of our fight.
I will admit that I am fearful for Jeremiah's future with his diagnosis. I think any momma would be. But I can never stop praying. The doubts will come. Undoubtedly, so will the set backs. It has always been three steps forward and two steps back with my sweet boy. But my plan of protection has to be staying grounded in God's Word, not forsaking my quiet time with Him, and learning the true discipline of praying without ceasing...no matter the answer or outcome...no matter how long it takes...even if my heart's desire for Jeremiah is never realized this side of heaven.
This is not my fight. It is God's. I am just along for the ride and have to continually open myself to all He wants to teach me and how He wants to grow me through it...remembering always one very important truth. It is ALL for His glory. I may not always understand the how's and why's of that statement, but I don't need to. I just need to believe it, to have faith that it is true.
I am a Christian. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am an author. In that order.