Friday, July 27, 2018

Recovering Joy

Recovering Joy
The Reverend Sarah Bronos

I came to Christ in my early 30s and was baptized and confirmed on the same day as my young children.  Soon thereafter I became part of a study group, read copious amounts of Christian literature, and became involved in many of my church’s ministries. I had never felt more alive as a Christian. But after almost ten years the Lord called my family to leave that community and move to Orlando, Florida.
We had moved to start a business.  Although what I wanted more than anything was to be in ministry in a church, my time instead was consumed with work and my children who were now in middle and high school.  My prayer life dried up.  For almost two years I was in a dark and dry place spiritually.  I grieved the loss of the sense of God’s nearness that I had experienced during those early years in the church.
During this time someone sent me a book, the title I cannot now recall, in which there was one phrase that stood out to me as if in neon lights: “no person, place, or thing can be Christ to you.”  Reading that made me stop and realize that I had become more attached to the blessing of doing ministry than to the person who had called me into that ministry.  That previous church, its community, and the ministries that had so much been part of my life, had become like idols.  They had replaced Christ in my affections.
One night near daybreak while still asleep, I knew I was sobbing and my pillow was drenched.  It seemed to me as though I was with Mary Magdalene as she ran to the tomb early that first Easter morning.  I was actually sobbing with her as she found the tomb empty.  All of her grief was my grief - it was overwhelming!  As she longed for her beloved Savior Jesus, I, too, felt the absence of my Lord.  Turning around we were blinded by the rays of the rising sun.  Yet we were able to make out a figure.  I heard Him call my name and then He said, “Child, I am not back there, but I am here.  I will never leave you.  I am always where you are.”
Immediately my dark cloud lifted.  JOY!   Once again, I felt the nearness of the Lord!  Very soon thereafter I joined another church and was once again involved in Christian ministries.  But this time, I knew better than to allow the love for ministry to replace the love for my Lord who never leaves me or any of His children.

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