The Best News I’ve Had in a Long Time
A dear friend recently encouraged me with these words from the sacred text:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isa. 43:19).
The purpose of this post is to report a new thing, a good thing, I perceive the Lord doing in my life.
Recently I’ve begun to get to know personally a godly woman in my church.
Jan Spence has been a covenant member at Orlando Grace for a couple of years now. I approached her a month ago with the notion of entertaining something more than a shepherd/sheep relationship between us. Would she even consider praying about it?, I asked–half expecting to get shot down in a ball of flames.
Though my initiative shocked her somewhat, she chose not to run for her life. She prayed. Then she hit me with some forthright, understandably necessary questions. I answered each honestly before the Lord. And then she said, “Yes, I’m willing.”
Well, what in the world to do now? Needless to say, I’ve not swum in these for waters for decades. And Jan has been quite content in her singleness for the last twelve years. We decided to talk on the phone initially keeping things between the two of us.
The more questions we asked of each other and responses we shared, the more our mutual attraction began growing. We quickly discerned the wisdom of confiding in the elders of our church for their protection and counsel. Much guidance has come through them. We welcome their ongoing accountability.
Our biggest puzzle has been how to go public with the news. Both of us want to love our church and friends well. My role as a pastor requires extra care here in guarding the welfare of my church to the degree that I can. Jan wants that very much as well. We have no peace about people learning this piecemeal through here-and-there conversations.
So, the more we prayed and counseled, the more we settled on my doing what I always do. Blog. I’ve sought to cultivate my author’s voice through this medium for years now. It has served me well both in keeping folks up to speed with my health issues and my family losses.
We simply cannot think of a better way to inform as many folks at the same time as possible. Furthermore this creates a written account of things so that those who hear secondhand have a resource to access for the firsthand version.
Jan wisely asked me about my grief process in mourning Nancy. I don’t know that the sense of loss attached to losing someone so special in your life ever completely ends. Honestly, I have wondered myself at times about the place of contentment I found on the other side of my bereavement leave.
I attribute that to God’s grace, enormous support, confidence of Nan’s eternal destiny, focusing on the great marriage we had—almost 42 years I never deserved—and, finally, the anticipatory grief I experienced for fifteen months, which I spoke about in my last post.
But there comes a time for moving on when spiritual, emotional, and mental health permit. Those who know me best validate that God has done a work in helping me in this regard.
The affirmation Jan and I have received from our spiritual leadership, closest confidants, and our extended families has given us great encouragement to continue down the road of exploring what God has for us.
With all the heartache and suffering of late, I welcome this providence as God’s gift and could not be happier for it. Perhaps Psalm 30:11-12 best summarizes my sentiments:
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
In case anyone at OGC is wondering . . . I have asked Jan if she will sit with me on Sundays at church. Though the challenge of assuming a seat once occupied by Nancy is not lost on her, she has agreed to that as well.
Please pray for us to abide in the will of God at every turn as we wait on Him and continue to get to know one another. Thank you.