Today, I was reminded even more about why I decided to put my faith in Christ years ago. Even in the midst of our chaotic daily lives, he is always there to answer. Andy and I were talking last night about Easter and the Jewish Passover and the differences between the two and we had a lot of questions but no immediate answers…
I was late (per usual) getting to Church today (but I wasn’t alone on that boat) and I was able to capture this beautiful cross out front before the lines for pictures began. Standing still and occurrence in front of the cross, alone, I was thankful. Truly thankful. I look at all the beautiful pictures of everyone and their families today on Easter and I started to picture my future with Andy and our future kids. I was picturing the possibility of me coming into church alone on Easter Sunday, Christmas or any Sunday for that matter, and how it is and will continue to be a normal occurrence for us. I would get our kids ready for Sunday school by myself and we’d walk inside without “daddy.” Now you might say, “aww how sad” but that’s our reality and it’s OKAY. (Andy works with my brother doing shift work and they have an amazing job, but just like all the nurses, doctors or any other job that requires 12hr shifts, they also work nights, weekends and holidays.) But in that stand still moment, in front of the cross, I was at peace.
It’s been hard to connect with the church since my small group leader Angie left this earth to be with Jesus four years ago. I wouldn’t say I am resentful towards the church or neglecting my personal relationship with Christ but I have felt more alone and afraid to connect since she left. Angie was my angel on earth, whose words from our Heavenly Father spoke directly to me and through me. She was the one that would send you the 15 page text message that included the entire song lyrics by Hillsong United and all the relatable bible verses that pertained to your season of life or current situation. She reminded you of how worthy you are regularly, how God had a plan for your life, even how he has the perfect man for you to marry one day but in order for him to open your heart up to see that, you first had to put your faith in the Lord and love him unconditionally first. She would tell you how God has a plan for your life that is far more magnificent than the one you think you need or desire right now and instead encouraged us to pour your heart out to him in order to see his guidance and wisdom. Angie was the angel who would tell you the brutal honest truth, but using God’s words and she would tell me why things in my life were happening the way that they were, because God was preparing my heart and growing inside me to prepare me for his kingdom. She reminded me constantly that God was always there to guide and protect my heart.
It’s funny to look back on all the ways God has been working in my life throughout the years. As most may know, Andy and I recently got engaged and some of you may hear people talking about how they “prayed for this man, my future husband,” and I am no different. Between my mom and Angie, I was always told to guide and protect my heart and to never settle for anything less than I deserved and to keep my standards high. I remember growing up and being told to have a checklist of characteristics for the man you wanted to marry one day. Throughout my 26 years of life, the list grew and changed but a few things stuck and stayed constant. From a physical appearance characteristic, I remember creating a list on a piece of paper saying, “tall, brown hair, tan like me, muscular, and a tattoo or two wouldn’t hurt but God, if you don’t want me to have a man with tattoos, that’s okay too, but you can toss one in if you’d like.” I also grew up questioning how you really knew if you found the one.. like would it be some light bulb that went off or what? The little reminders from God is what helped. The more important list of characteristics for my future husband was based off Andy Stanley’s advice from the Love, Sex and Dating Series. The biggest takeaway: Are you who the person you are looking for is looking for? AKA: if you want a man who is patient, you must learn to be patient yourself. If you want a man who is honest and trustworthy, you must be honest and trustworthy first. If you want a man to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you must first have one and etc etc. Although I am still striving to be the best version of myself every day, I am confident in my decision in having Andy as my future husband. I know marriage isn’t easy and we will go through struggles but I know and have confidence that God handpicked this water-loving, fishing, southern Mississippi coastal boy to lead me in our future life together. I am lucky and blessed to know that Angie was also someone who met Andy before she died. That was huge for me. Angie has been through every boy problem that my entire friend group ever had and Angie always had God’s word to pick up the pieces or guide us. To see where we all are now and everything we have been through, I truly am thankful Andy got to meet one of my angels. I only wish she were here to answer all of our questions about christianity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God etc.
I still have so many questions but as I sat in church during Easter service, this was the one service that stuck out the most because it was Angie and God working within me to knock on the door and let me know they are always there. Although Andy wasn’t sitting next to me, I was able to text him immediately after to tell him to read John 19&20. Andy (Stanley) basically summed up the resurrection of Christ and knowing that many other disciples didn’t believe he was the son of God, none of the Jews believed Jesus or anyone for that matter could rise from the dead. They saw him die and take his last breath on the cross. They buried him in a new garden that no-one had ever been buried in before. It wasn’t until after Jesus was buried, that Peter and John saw his empty tomb with only just the linen that they placed on his body lying there but no body to be found. John and Peter then believed. But even then some disciples like Thomas were still skeptical after hearing what John and Peter saw. It wasn’t until Jesus came to Thomas, Peter and John before them saying “Peace be with you” because he startled the three disciples. They were staring at the body of Jesus Christ, son of God who had risen from the dead. Jesus approached the disciples and then asked Thomas to touch his wrists where the nails were placed and asked him to place his hands around his waist and in that moment, Thomas believed. The son of God was standing before them, resurrected. For that reason, we put our trust and faith in the Lord, and so that for generations to come and through the ages in which this story was told over and over again, their children’s children and so forth can trust in him and put their faith in our Heavenly Father.
It’s for this reason that I continue to put my own trust and faith in the Lord, alongside Andy, in hopes of one day being able to tell our children about the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and to help guide them in their own faith.
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29