I'm Still Here
“…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
Have you ever been “ghosted”?
If you are unfamiliar with the term (as I was previously), it’s when someone in your life cuts off all communication without explanation or warning. It’s like they become a “ghost” and just disappear.
As new words and slang emerge, our younger generation is definitely making me feel my age!
Anyway, now that you know the definition, let’s revisit the question. Have you ever been “ghosted”? Or, let’s get real honest. Have you ever “ghosted” someone else inadvertently or otherwise?
This question kept coming to mind as I sat down to write this week.
I am so excited to get back to bringing encouragement through Echoes of Hope but I feel like I have to acknowledge the fact, that in a very real way, I have unintentionally “ghosted” you as readers and supporters of Echoes of Hope and myself.
I can truly say from the bottom of my heart that it was not intentional.
I will not bring trite excuses as to why things played out the way they did or why Echoes of Hope went dark for months without warning. The only explanation I can offer is the transition of my family from Missouri to Illinois and my new day job as Pastor of Groups and Missions at Richwoods Christian Church was MUCH harder than expected.
The new city and church are wonderful and I see God’s fingerprints all over the move. Still, following God into the unknown on a new adventure is terrifying and hard. If anyone makes you think otherwise, they are lying… run.
It took much longer than I imagined to once again have an overflow in my own heart to pour out to you all. Bottom line, I am still here and I’m back for good!
Interesting side note, I do have some fantastic, crazy stories from the transition that will be coming out this year!
So what does any of this have to do with the above verse from Matthew?
Previously, I had the privilege of walking alongside people who were hurting and that is still the case in my new role. Some are followers of Jesus, some are not. Regardless, some of their questions about God come flowing from their pain.
Where is God? Why isn’t God helping me? If God is real, doesn’t he care what I’m going through? Why would I want to serve a God who would allow this into my life?
On and on the questions come – and I wholeheartedly understand why.
Whether we follow Jesus or not, in the midst of pain, our humanness has a way of rearing its ugly head. And, as all humans do, we try to make sense of our pain. It’s not wrong to ask the “why?” questions. I would argue that these questions (when presented in humility) bond us to Jesus in a unique form of intimacy like all the happiness in the world never could.
It is in these moments of asking the “why?” questions of God, when we seemingly get no answers, that I believe Jesus is echoing through eternity in his gentle whisper, “I’m still here. I haven’t left you.” Still, it’s hard to believe.
So what’s the answer? How do we build a level of faith that listens for and hears Jesus’ whisper in those painful seasons?
We listen for it in calm seasons.
As I’ve reflected and prayed about this all week, God kept bringing to mind a thought over and over again. I wonder if Jesus is whispering, “I’m still here.” far more often to his followers in the calm seasons of life than in the stormy ones?
Most people I talk to admit they pray and seek God far more when life is hard than when it is easy. Again, I understand, but if we are going to be followers of Jesus who cling to him triumphantly in the dark seasons of life, then we have to learn to cling to him in the sunshine first.
The lake by our old home was the scene of some powerful lessons for me with God. There were times we were out on the water when a nasty storm popped up and I would instantly pray, “Lord, help us to get in quickly and safely!” There was no stopping to think, “Should I pray?” It was automatic and I was grateful to know God was listening.
Other times when I was out on the water I remember the sun beating down, warming my skin, the breeze blowing through my hair, and the cool water on my toes as I sat on the edge of the dock. I needed nothing from God at that moment and yet it was all so perfect I could not help but talk to him about it, expressing my love and gratitude for the beauty of His creation.
Now when I feel the warm sunshine on my face or a breeze in my hair, no matter where I am, it’s like I hear the whisper of Jesus saying, “Steph, I’m still here.” And it brings me peace.
Jesus’ words from so long ago have not changed, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20, NLT).
In Stephanie's paraphrase, "I'm still here".
So wherever you find yourself this week, in the sunshine or the dark, close your eyes and listen. Maybe, just maybe, you will hear him whisper to you too… “I’m still here.”
For Your Reflection…
I tell people frequently, the time for us to figure out what we believe about God’s character is not in the crisis. It’s hard enough to cling to Jesus when we love and trust him, let alone when we’re not sure if he’s trustworthy. So get to know God and his character in the sunshine when life is good.
How are you at talking to God when life is good? It’s never too late to start.