Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Jennifer slips that little box out from behind her right after we sing—right before we pray—before the official start of our small group discussion. And here I am again, all gape-mouthed and unsuspecting. I don’t know what to say when she places that prettily wrapped package in my hands and all eyes are on me—smiling—and once again these people that I love prove that they know how to love better than I.
“We wanted to recognize all the hard work you’ve done,” she says. “Congratulations on completing the Lay Pastor program.”
We’ve all been friends a long time but it always amazes me how love grows…how even the familiar can surprise. I let myself be surprised.
There is a lump in my throat and I clumsily tear wrapping paper to find the loveliest bracelet nestled inside. Jacalyn helps me with the clasp and she whispers what these beads mean and now Jeff and the boys can buy more beads to add to these here and what do I think?
I look at the silver winking in the sunlight spilling through the window and the beads roll around on my arm and I think it’s perfect. I hope I say thank you, but I might just be too grateful to remember…have I mentioned that gifts were not a part of my little girl life? No birthdays or Christmases or even just because.
I am not very talented at receiving.
And then she slips a little red notebook in my hands too–telling me they all have written a little something in it for me. The little red notebook says Believe on its cover and some days…some days I still can’t believe these people love me. And there is that old fear inside that a love like this can never stay and I wonder to myself that this thing we celebrate—might it mean a walking away from this love one day?
I tuck the little red notebook under my papers—unopened—and we start our lesson for the night.
It’s a good night and after our lesson we have dinner together and our kids play badminton and we sit out on the deck and catch up. I go to bed tired and happy. Blanketed with love.
So when I awaken in a panic at 3:00 a.m. I’m not sure where it comes from. No matter how much I pray and recite the book of James, I can’t seem to shake it. After an hour of listening to the house hum I know there’s only One Place to go. I slip out from under the covers and drift downstairs.
I know what it’s about but I don’t want to talk about it.
I lie on the couch with unblinking eyes in the dark. The Lord comforts me—he reminds me of the red notebook. I read my friends sweet words in the dark hours and cry grateful tears. But that pit is still gnawing at me.
I can’t do this, I tell Him. I am not enough.
The red notebook is open on my lap and that’s when I see it. On the very first page in the margin, my friend Marci wrote Joshua 1:9.
I know what it says, but I get my Bible so I can touch those words—read them with my heart.
I read the last words over and over, until the truth of them becomes real again.
…the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Over and over. Until fear goes to sleep.
This week’s memory verse:
To download a copy of James 2:24-25 memory card.
Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.