Sunday’s Sermon on Suffering

I am a firm believer that we tend to hear whatever we most need to hear in each Sunday’s sermon.  Sometimes, the message is especially “spot on” and every single word hits its target dead center.  Last Sunday, Mitch Wilburn had my number!!

It was one of those sermons where I was multi-tasking by note taking all over the weekly handout,

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underlining/boxing/starring scripture,

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and even finding words of wisdom in the devotional “extras” found throughout my Bible.

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This month Mitch is teaching from the book of Habakkuk.  The huh??  Yes, I spelled it correctly:  H A B A K K U K.  It contains only three chapters of 17, 20, and 19 verses respectively.  It is found 5th from the end of the Old Testament and takes up all of 4 pages of my Bible.  It is about questioning God.  It is about suffering.  It is about trusting.

Mitch was truly a vessel in that lesson, and he spoke directly to me in three major ways:

  1. Complaining to humans only tears down relationships, but complaining to God builds a bridge from fear to faith.  I have been guilty of taking my frustrations, irritations, and complications to friends and peers, and then I feel hurt and abandoned when they avoid me for being a negative influence who is never satisfied nor pleased with the status quo.  Habakkuk 2:1 tells me to bring my questions, my doubts, and my frustrations to God in a manner of prayer.  That is what is intended, and in doing so I draw nearer to God.  Coach is the next best thing in my world; he truly listens to my concerns and worries.  He genuinely wants to share my burdens.  But after I “vent” to his willing ears, I inevitably feel bad for adding to his load.  While he loves me enough to be there for me in that moment of need, taking my anguish to God is a better bet, for sure!

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  2. Why, God?  Lord, how long will this suffering last?  Habakkuk 1:13 shows me that I am supposed to ASK.  Ask God “why” and “how” and “when” even when those questions – and the corresponding answers – are hard to accept.  I love how Mitch guided us on this point when he said, “Do not be prideful and arrogant.  Just go ask!”  Not asking God these questions is self-destructive which only hurts me more in the end.  If you’ve been reading my posts about “Rhett’s 16th” over the past couple of weeks, then you know that our friends are suffering in the worst imaginable way as they grieve the death of a child.  They must now face the day that they should be celebrating his 16th birthday.  Recently, Rhett’s mom wrote these words:

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    I am so glad that she shared such beautiful and honest words.  I believe the Lord’s reply is that the “why” is beyond our comprehension and that suffering from grief will forever be a companion, but the simple act of asking, of demanding to be heard, is healthy and necessary.   Taking my inquiries to God is good and right.

  3. Rest in God’s sufficiency.  Be silent.  The reason that I never feel like I am enough is because I am not enough.  I am not enough by myself.  God’s sufficiency is greater which is why I will never succeed alone.  No matter how hard I try to do all and be all for all, I will never come close to that perfection.  This came to me in the form of a major breakdown Friday morning.  I looked around me and suddenly felt like every word spoken, every step taken, and every effort extended over the past 18 months has been a huge, major mistake.  They are mistakes made through deep, unconditional love and the best of intentions, but mistakes at every turn nonetheless.  Poor Coach!  He was so patient as I boo’ed, and I hoo’ed, and I bawled all over him.  He loves me so much more than I deserve.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  We are all loved more than we deserve.  And because of that fact, we are not alone.  All I have to do is remember that although I will never be enough, God is.  All I have to do is be silent and rest in God’s sufficiency.

Finally, I ask you to take a look at Habakkuk 3:2 which is so very true today!

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With hugs and love,

Ashli

PS:  Please don’t forget to make your $16 contribution for Rhett’s 16th on July 5th.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.     -Habakkuk 3:19

An Update to “Rhett’s 16th” Quilt

I am really, really excited about how Rhett’s 16th Quilt is coming along!  (Click on the blue text to read my original post.)  I got the quilt back from the professional quilter who “sandwiched” the three layers:  the topper (that I pieced), the batting (for warmth), and the back (which adds fun fabric and a little bit of character)…AND I LOVE IT!!  She chose to use a dark green thread in an interlocking geometric pattern, perfect for male or female.

It looks so great:

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All that is left to do is to hand stitch the binding down around the edges:

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If you have not viewed the quilt auction online, please go take a look and place a bid on eBay:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rhetts-16th

If you have not yet sent in your $16 to honor Rhett’s 16th birthday, please, please do so in the next couple of days: https://www.gofundme.com/rhetthering

All donations and proceeds from the quilt auction go to Rhett’s Revolution, a scholarship fund in his memory and spirit and legacy:  http://mhs.mcgregor-isd.org/news/rhett_hering_revolution_scholarship/

On a side note, this is by far the toughest quilt I have ever made.  Not because the pattern is difficult; it is not…a log cabin is one of the easiest and best layouts for beginners.  Not because the t-shirt material is difficult with which to work; it is not…the knit fabric actually falls into place better than I expected.  Not because my Baylor t-shirts feel like a dark cloud has covered them during these past few months; it has not…those tokens of memorabilia represent beautiful remembrances of days and games and seasons spent with good friends, good family, and good people.

This has been the toughest quilt I have ever made because everything about a 15 year old dying during Christmas break is tough.  Terrible.  Tragic.  Tough.

I worried for months about making Rhett’s birthday more painful for his family – I would never, ever want to cause them more pain.  But God put this in my heart to do for Rhett, and He would not let it go.  A few nights ago, as I was thinking about Rhett, praying for his family, and silently crying myself to sleep for them, I finally understood:  I can’t make their pain any worse, any deeper, nor any more devastating by bringing attention to Rhett on his birthday because he is never out of their focus.  Rhett is in every thought, every family dinner, and every outing that they take.  The sharp stab of his absence is ever-felt.  It does not go away, and it does not diminish.  Rhett’s family is learning how to face each day without him by their side, and while I pray that facing the days gets easier, I also know without a doubt that the crushing blow of Rhett’s death is constant.

I only wish to help make his birthday a celebration of Rhett’s life.  A reminder that we all can be a small part of supporting and empowering his legacy.

If you have not yet given $16 for Rhett’s 16th, please go do so.  Let your kiddos do some chores around the house or help with the yard so they, too, can join in the celebration.  $16 is a totally doable donation, so please join in:  https://www.gofundme.com/rhetthering

Most importantly, please remember to say a prayer for Rhett and his family on July 5th.  They need our love and support and prayers every single day, and especially on the extra, extra tough days.

Thank you to all who have already shared my posts, bid on “Rhett’s 16th” quilt, and donated to the Rhett Revolution!

With love and hugs,

Ashli