As I was preparing to say goodbye to the congregation I had served for eight and a half years, I believed in the depths of my heart that God would be faithful to them and send a new pastor who would love them and challenge them. I reiterated this belief in sermons, in conversations, and in my prayers; God is faithful and will provide for you. In fact, I told more than one person that, if I didn't believe that God would provide for this group of beloved people, I wouldn't go.
Within three months of my leaving, it became clear that God has indeed provided a pastor who would love the congregation, join them in their celebrations in the sanctuary and in the community, and continue to challenge them to deeper faithfulness. My faith in God's promise of provision was borne out and I knew a measure of joy and peace in seeing it happen.
Just this week, though, I was brought up short when I realized it was much easier for me to believe that God would provide for the body of Christ, and much harder to believe that God would also provide for me.
Many of you know that Eric and I have our condo on the market; we are trying to move closer to Eric's church so he can be more present to the congregation he has been called to serve, the people he loves and shepherds. The move will have little impact on my own travels between Boston and Northern New England, but will strengthen and encourage the congregation in Natick.
We prepared our home to go on the market, and have continued to make it ready for showings every day, tidying away the coffee maker, the microwave, our various piles of important correspondence and reading materials, only to pull everything out again at the end of the day, in order to repeat the process again the next morning. Just in case you haven't had the chance to go through this process recently, it's exhausting.
And it's emotional. I want someone to fall in love with our home the way we have loved it, and I don't understand how all these people walking through haven't immediately declared a desire to buy. Yes, I recognize my impatience in that thinking; it hasn't even been on the market for a month yet!
Because we were expecting a quick turnaround, we started looking seriously, and we did fall in love with something almost immediately. We visited twice, drove around the neighborhood, and made an offer. That offer is contingent on our accepting an offer on our condo within a certain timeframe, but the sellers accepted our offer.
That timeframe is almost up. My worry and anxiety has been high, almost through the roof. Isn't this what God would desire, to have Eric closer to the people he is serving? Less virtuous thoughts swirled through head and heart as well... don't we give everything we are to the church and to our Lord? Can't we have this one thing in return? Doesn't God love us?
Then, out of the blue, in a morning prayer service, I heard ringing in my heart that phrase, "God keeps the promises that have been made to those who follow." It struck me through. My worry and anxiety, my internal whining and hand-wringing, my stress and impatience were all products of my not believing, in the heart of who I am, that God will provide for me, too.
I took a deep breath. I sat in that realization, then began to pray, "O Lord, increase my faith. Help me believe. Let me claim again your love and your promises."
I'm still battling the anxiety, and the peace of that prayer is something I have to keep opening myself up to in the midst of this swirling process. But I have been reminded that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. God's mercies never come to an end, and, in fact, are made new again every morning. God will provide, maybe not what I want, maybe not when I want it, but the right thing at the right time in the right place.
That's a promise I can stand on. That's a promise I will, literally in this case, take to the bank.