My husband, Ken, planted a large sunflower garden in our backyard. There are several different varieties, Russian Mammoth, Autumn Beauty, and several others. I love them. They are all different and unique, but all beautiful.
But there is more to them than just the beauty of the flowers. When the flowers begin to fade, they look kind of ugly. The leaves turn brown, and I just want to cut them down. But Ken won’t let me. He said the seeds provide food for the birds, and we should leave them. My perfectionism and need to have everything “in order” makes me want to clean them out.
But Ken looks at things differently. He is willing to look past the unloveliness of the plant to provide life sustaining sustenance to the birds. He has the ability to focus on what is really important.
It can be that way in life, too. In our society that values perfection, looking youthful at all costs, we lose sight of true beauty. it is said that we all have a ‘face’ that we portray to others. We want everyone to like us. We don’t want anyone to see our flaws. And some of us want to make everything look perfect around us. But life isn’t like that. People aren’t perfect, and we don’t always do everything perfectly, and things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. We can’t control everything.
My friend, Asher, says we all have a sense of rejection in our spirit that flows down from Adam and Eve being put out of the garden. And that drives our need for perfection, some of us more than others. We need to understand that God loves us just as we are. Sometimes He uses our imperfections to bring life to another person. Sometimes when we think we have it all wrong, we actually have it right, and when we look back, we can see the hand of the Master weaving our lives into a beautiful tapestry.
Photo by The Library of Congress
I have a coffee cup that says “Crazy Cat Lady” on one side and “One Cat Leads to Another” on the other side. Six years ago Ken talked me into adopting a cat and now we have four, so I have proven the point; hence, the cup. But this isn’t about my cats.
It’s about how one thing can happen in our lives, and amazingly, it will lead to results that we never expected, kind of like me agreeing to one cat and ending up with four, and being a crazy cat lady.
I moved to Illinois in 1996 to marry my wonderful Mr. Ken. I prided myself in being able to adjust to new things easily, and I was so excited about our wedding and spending the rest of my life with Ken, that I thought living in Illinois would be a breeze. It wasn’t and hasn’t been. I had no idea what a culture shock it would be to live in Illinois. I had lived in in seven U.S. states and in Israel, so adjusting was no big deal. But Illinois was another story. It turned out to be the biggest challenge of my life. Why, you ask? Because God wanted to change me, and refine some things about my personality. He wanted “iron to sharpen iron.” I didn’t want to be sharpened. I thought I was just fine the way I was.
Which leads to my church, New Life Fellowship, and Pastor Ken Martin.
Because I came from a Messianic Congregation, it was very hard for me to adjust to a church again. But I knew we had to be part of a local body.
In the first seven years of our marriage, we attended or visited nine churches. The longest we attended anywhere during that time was two years. Then, eight years ago we joined New Life Fellowship Church. From the very beginning, God showed me that this was where we were supposed to stay. It was an adjustment, for sure, but whenever I thought I wanted to change, God would reassure me that this was where we were supposed to stay.
It has been good there. We have made friends, had a lot of wonderful times, but the biggest thing that has happened during the past eight years, is that refining that God wanted to do is happening. Eight years ago, I thought that I was just fine. I didn’t realize that I did need to change, but they were fine personality changes that are hard to see when it is your personality.
I said all this to say that today during our church service, I asked God “Why am I here?” “Why did you bring us to this church?” His answer was amazing. He said it was because Pastor Ken would pray for me, and that is what I needed the most. Because when you need to change things like the way you relate to people, it takes a lot of time…and prayer. I am sure every pastor prays for his congregation. But God showed me today that the prayers Pastor Ken has prayed for me was a foundational reason I have been able to change, and to be refined and to grow.
Thank you, God, for leading us to New Life Fellowship. You have always been faithful to tell me why, because I always ask, and I need to know.
And thank you, Pastor Ken, for praying for me. I will never be the same.
Photo by RedTea