Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Savoring the Bittersweet

 Ezekial 3:14 The Spirit lifted me up and took me away.
 I went into bitterness and turmoil, but the Lord’s hold on me was strong.

The Bittersweet of Pain
We can taste the bitter and the sweet. That’s how the past few years have been for us. Really, long before that, in 2011, I tasted the bitterness of chronic pain. Pain that lasted for not for days, but for months. A portion of that time was in stillness on my bed. But I savored that stillness as I fellowshipped with God. Drawing, oh so close, to Him as he taught me and brought me to a readiness to face even greater giants; just as He did in the wilderness with His people, Israel. I still fight chronic pain but I feel the sweetness of being still.

The Bittersweet of Job Loss

In the fall of 2015, our family tasted the bitterness in the realization that our society had become a place with no need for the mature. The bitter reality was that churches no longer desired the more “senior” pastor. And though Michael had 40 years of pastoring under his belt and a family with multiple talents, we found ourselves with no place to serve. We were left as scraps on the table and forced to take an early retirement which we really could not afford.

But these past two years are a testament to God’s faithfulness and providence.

We moved to greater Savannah. It ripped out our hearts as we pulled away, leaving our son, Brian, on the far west side of Georgia; but, oh the sweetness of reuniting with our oldest son, Daniel and his family.  Our grandson, in his late teens, barely knew us at that point. But it’s a different story now. Our home is right off the highway where Daniel traveled for work, play, and church. And we had the privilege of weekly visits on the spur of the moment for a while.
They have moved into town now. But we still enjoy worshiping together every Sunday and have regular get-togethers for food and fellowship.

The Bittersweet of Financial Loss

It was eye opening to watch our bank account diminish with our now much lower income but additional living costs.
BUT GOD is faithful to the most minute details. Oh the sweetness, in finding a check in the mailbox just as the right time or cash in the hand from a friend at church. God has never let us down. He provides every need.

The Bittersweet of Lost Friendships
Our hearts broke as we left behind 13 years of wonderful friendships. Our younger children had grown up there and really knew no other place to call home. But friends, old and new were waiting for us around the bend. Oh, the sweetness of reuniting with friends from years ago when we pastored in Savannah. Plus new friends that embraced us as if they had known us all along. There were even “college friends” to get to know.
Just a week before we arrived, the church we now attend hired a worship pastor. Wouldn’t you know that this pastor and wife attend Asbury College at the same time as me! We didn’t know one another then, but we have mutual friends. It’s a small world!
This turned out to be the sweetest of all blessings. You see, their son, Ethan fell in love with our daughter, Mikaela! And in July, he proposed! And we are now preparing to celebrate a marriage possibly next spring! The date has not been set yet.
Here’s a little video from the engagement that Brian put together. Thanks to Eric Grimes for pictures and music.

 Psalm 34:8   Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

I share all this just to say, “There is always a silver lining.” 

We are still tasting bitter with the sweet but God has been faithful.

Don’t give up when the chips are down.

Mandy, et al

P.S. See Wedding Day post here: Wedding Day, May 19, 2018