i've been feeling sorry for myself the past few days. a situation was revealed to me this week that has burst my bubble, thrown me a curve ball and, well, completely rocked my world.
ellie and i were invited to a play date this morning that, frankly, i didn't plan to attend as i've been in sort of a funk. i didn't figure i'd be good company for anyone. at the last minute, however, i decided we would go.
boy, am i glad we did.
just sitting around with other moms who are contemplating their various challenging life situations with beautiful smiles, sweet spirits and a wonderful sense of humor was so uplifting to me. any one of their situations, all ultimately related to provision, as mine is, could be cause for moping, whining, anger and hopelessness.
are they caving?
no, no and heck no.
they are actively searching for ways to improve things, all while relying on God to do His part in mightily and powerfully conducting the universe.
toward the end of our time at the play date i had, um, a bit of an emotional outburst relating to my situation. it was ill-timed and not at all graceful, but they immediately turned their attention on me to offer sympathy and suggestions.
as i was driving home, i was hit with the realization that inspired the title of this post.
i am surrounded by strength.
the three women sitting on lawn chairs in the backyard this morning spurred my epiphany, but, as i thought about it, the list of individuals i know who are fighting through each day in the face of uncertainty, discomfort and seemingly-dire circumstances with hope and faith in God, not to mention, pleasantly pleasing attitudes, seemed to never end.
i'm talking about people who are neck-deep in the toughest storms of life, gasping for air and grasping for shards of the wrecked ship to keep them afloat.
i was convicted and inspired all at once.
on wednesday, lennon preached in youth. in a sermon that was so relevant it physically enveloped me into itself, he told the story of paul, when he was a prisoner, weathering a storm aboard a ship steered by his captors. simply put, paul tries to warn these men that if they do not listen, they will surely pay serious consequences. of course, they do not listen, and everything with which and for which they were sailing is lost.
God does, however, spare every single one of their lives -- giving them another day to live and another chance to realize the plans He has for them.
during his speech, when the desperate sailors are finally ready to listen, paul says this, (acts 27:23-24) "last night an angel of the God whose i am and whom i serve stood beside me and said, 'do not be afraid, paul. you must stand trial before caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you."
out of these verses, lennon pulled a particular phrase that has been ringing in the back of my head ever since:
"...the God whose i am and whom i serve..."
even in the face of a great storm, all the while a prisoner of the men who were, in effect, crashing the ship by refusing to listen, paul remembered that he served God and he belonged to God.
those two facts alone were enough to build and keep within him the strength that i've seen in so many around me in recent months; strength to realize that all begins and ends with God, and that all will be resolved in His time, for His glory.
i don't have a fancy, poignant ending planned for this post, just as i don't have any fancy or poignant answers to this mammoth of a problem that stares at me as i type.
but, while i am still struggling to wrap my head and hands around the situation we now find ourselves in, i know that things will turn out alright.
i know the God whose i am and whom i serve, and He's sent me countless examples - testimonies - of how He never fails to show up in our times of trouble.
to that, i can only utter a simple, "hallelujah" as thanksgiving fills my heart.