I thought I had moved passed emotional outpourings, but today has been one of those days. It’s Sunday, so I headed to church in anticipation of what God would do among our small and struggling congregation.
I was ready for our time of worship this week, as the visiting praise team sent their songs early enough for me to get them all ready for PowerPoint–remember we have Arabic and then transliterated Arabic for our non-Arab speakers. It takes some work. The youth came late for Bible study, but we still managed to get a few concepts discussed. It was a small, but encouraging start, as I’m teaching this class for the first time.
When the worship began, I looked around. “Where are our people?” I thought to myself. To have a visiting team leading and only two or three Arabs was sad. However, as the service began, others straggled in. We’re good at that in the Middle East, and it’s carried over to America as well. So, I settled in with translating and PowerPointing and could even manage to clap between clicks on the computer as the music stirred my soul.
God was present.
I went home thankful for my church, but still asking what could make it better. I ate lunch and took my ritual nap. I dreamed of my husband for the first time in a long time. When I woke up, I asked the Lord what did it mean? Most likely, I just missed him. I do miss him.
As I left again for our evening service, I kept asking the Lord what he was doing in our church. Why is it so hard? Why are people not committed or easily led to leave? How can there be yet another Arabic church started, when each one is struggling. What are you saying Lord?
I arrived at church, early as usual, to be able to turn up the heat and make sure things are set up. I decided a long time ago that since being early was ingrained in me by my mother, I might as well use it for the Lord. I unlocked the door and heard a weird noise. I turned on the lights and realized what was happening…a pipe had burst.
I looked down the hallway to see water spewing into the children’s rooms and down the hall. It was nearing the sanctuary. I must have looked crazy, if anyone had seen me. I ran toward the water, and tried to see if there was a turn-off valve. Water spewed all over me, my shoes were soaked. I ran back to where I had dropped my purse to find my phone.
I left it at home.
I turned around and thought about driving over to a church member’s house to see if he could help, so I ran out to the car. I opened the car door and realized that was a stupid idea. I closed the door and prayed for God to show me where that cut off valve was. “Think, Carol, think,” I yelled to myself.
I remembered. I grabbed a ladder from storage and waded down the hall to go into the ceiling above the water fountain. I vaguely remembered my husband or someone talking about a valve in the ceiling. I prayed it was there and was the right one. I poked my head through the ceiling, looked around, and saw a handle. I pulled it.
Success. Thank you Lord.
I climbed down from the ladder and went to look for something to push the water out the door. I ended up with a broom and began to sweep. I opened the door, letting the cold night air in, and for the next half an hour pushed water out as I prayed, “Ya rub” in Arabic (Oh, Lord). I don’t know why, when trouble hits, I always revert to Arabic. I even thought about that as I was sweeping and saying it. What a weird thing.
But I was also thinking about what this meant. Why, Lord? Why today, when the state of the church is weighing heavy on my heart, do you allow it to flood? No answer came.
Eventually two other faithful members showed up, then the pastor, then two more. That was it. We were six souls present for the evening service and faced with a flood. How many were on the ark? They had at least eight, right? Alright, their flood was a bit more massive than what I was facing, but still, why was our number to be so small? Where were our people?
We swept and mopped and cleaned, and eventually, had things under control enough to leave it for the night. There’s still work to be done, and I don’t look forward to the smell of the carpets next week, but as Scarlett says, “Tomorrow is another day. I’ll think of that tomorrow.”
So, to home I’ve returned to wash my wet shoes and clothes and to drink a hot cup of tea. I’ve talked to my sons, and they’ve given me reasons to be thankful for them, yet again, with their love and support. My youngest sends a text: “Anytime you need to, call me.”
I look back on this day and ask, “Lord, what are you saying? What are you doing?” Am I being stretched and pulled, because he wants me to trust him more? I thought I’d been there, done that, but maybe not. “And, what about the church, Lord? What are you telling me about this church we started seven years ago?” He never promised it would be easy, and Raouf and I struggled with it many times over the years. The problem is, I don’t have him to struggle with any more, and I hurt to see Maged carrying the burden we once carried. “Is it too much for him, Lord? It seems too much for me, some days…days like today.”
So the flood came at church, and the flood of tears come now. Then a still small voice whispers. “Cast all your cares on me.”
I decided to look up the verse (it’s in 1 Peter 5, by the way):
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The words that follow tell me the reality of what I’m facing today.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Is my church under attack? Yes. Who’s doing it? Satan. What do I need to do? Resist him and stand firm. In what? My faith in Jesus. Why? Because other churches are going through the same thing around the world. And… because he cares for me.
Emotions calm. Tears subside. I’m resting in Him tonight. I trust you will too.
Grace and Peace