One of the things I love about my church - even though it once made me very uncomfortable (when I was asked to do this myself) - is that when our pastor takes a Sunday off, we don't bring in an outside pastor to fill in. Instead, our pastor prays and finds people in the congregation with a testimony to share, a sermon in their hearts. I've preached twice and countless others have also taken to the platform to share what God has done in their lives.
This past Sunday, a man from the congregation preached. His name is Ryan. First I have to tell you how much I love this guy and his family. I have often told him and his wife, Jennifer, how much I admire their marriage. They have a daughter, Kaitlyn, that I've enjoyed spending time with in Sunday School and in children's choir. Ryan and I have sung together from time to time and I've also spent time with them in a small group setting a couple of years ago. I love this family and was very excited to hear Ryan's message.
And God, as usual, did not disappoint.
One of the reasons that I really enjoy these guest speakers is that I actually sit and listen to the sermon. No disrespect to my pastor - I love him dearly. But most Sundays, I find myself a bit "itchy" during the sermon and prefer to sit on the floor in the very back so I can move around or step out to get water or whatever. I sing with our Worship Team, I'm in church leadership, I teach music to kids, I often have meetings or commitments at church after service... I'm very involved and find that I am responsible for my spiritual fulfillment. I can't just sit and hear the pastor's sermon each week and be filled up anymore. He gives great sermons - but it's just something of a refresher for me to hear from someone else (and a bonus that we have this wituation where I don't have to visit some other church in order to hear someone else!!).
The title of Ryan's sermon was "God Can! But What If He Doesn't?"
And there was a point in his sermon that I knew I was getting a message intended for me.
I'm pretty open about the struggles we have with parenting. I'm also as proactive and assertive as I can be when the problems reach that boiling point.
I recognize that we are very blessed - our children are healthy and basically normal. We are secure in our home and in a great school district.
But there are times that I have pangs of envy or regret because motherhood isn't what I imagined it would be. Because the type of mom I want to be is not the type of mom my daughter needs. And the type of mom she needs is not always the type of mom I want to be.
Ryan spoke very openly of the struggles he and his wife lived through when dealing with infertility as they hoped to expand their family to 2 children. And there came a point where Ryan was angry - why is this so easy for so many others and we can't be given this gift that we so desperately want? And the answer he came to receive was that the daughter they already had is a miracle - they just hadn't faced the present issues when the pregnancy occured, they didn't realize that the issues were there. She's healthy and she was specifically designed for them.
Ryan used the phrase "God showing us that we are the family He designed."
It was something of an ah ha moment for me.
I've preached on recognizing the miracle that we each are individually - that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that He designed and created us with awe and reverence and we should see ourselves as His perfect and ideal creations, even in our imperfections.
But somehow I didn't take the next step and apply that same logic to my own family.
We are the family that God designed. Jeff and I were brought together as part of God's plan for our lives. These 2 kids were given specifically to us - their personalities and needs and experiences are specifically desgined to mesh with us as their parents. We were specifically chosen to be their guardians, their guides.
God can. But what if He doesn't?
God could have given me the daughter that matched the vision that I had of what my daughter should be like, what motherhood should be like. But He didn't.
He gave me the child that needs me. He gave me the child that I need. Yes, she is a challenge at times. But how can I put my vision in front of His perfect plan?
There are parents out there with far bigger struggles than what we face. I have many friends who have children with autism, parents who watch their children suffer from diseases and disfigurements, kids with ADHD, kids with anxiety and depression, kids with an absent parent, kids with serious issues. I know of parents who have suffered multiple miscarriages or still births, who have lost babies at birth, have lot their babies to SIDS, have lost their children to unimaginable accidents. I know of parents who have gone out into the world and found the child that God intended for them.
God has designed each of these families. And we can look to Him and shake our fists and wonder why these bad or challenging things happen. Or we can stop and look at the blessings, look at the plan He has laid out for us. Recognize His handiwork in our lives, in our families.
The main points that Ryan made in his sermon was that we can't possibly begin to think that we know God's plan, that we have to fully trust that God loves us, and that God is running this race alongside us. When I apply that to my family - God has a plan for the individuals in my family and also has a plan for bringing us together as a family, God loves us and wants us to make our best choices, and God will be by our side, supporting us along the way.
My family. This group of 4 people, brought together. My chidlren gifted to Jeff and I. And as a family, a God designed family, we have a purpose in God's plan.
As Ryan said in the closing of his sermon -
God has a plan for all of us. And that is the plan I want to live for! Don't you?