I had lunch with Ashley on Friday. We've known each other for nearly five years, since I started a college-age small group with Ros in January 2006. We hadn't seen each other since December so we had a lot of catching up to do.
Eventually we got to the part about my job ending.
"Wow," she said. "God's really up to something in your life."
Jill said the same thing when we spoke on Friday night.
I need to hear that.
Otherwise the fear and the questions threaten to overtake my heart, to paralyze me so that I can't do anything, and they crowd out God's truth.
And here's what's true. It's found in 1 Peter 1.
God's mercy brings great hope, living hope, of new birth into Jesus' life. This life is short, and life with God is long. We struggle now, but our struggles strengthen our faith, which is worth more than any job, any relationship, any success, may be proved genuine and result in "praise, glory, and honor" to God.
Ashley observed that, as long as she has known me, God has kept pushing me to new things, new challenges, and that I seem to experience new fears along the way.
She's right, and I needed to hear her say that.
I need spiritual community. I need these awesome women of faith to remind me of what's true in Christ, while at the same time listening to my fears and acknowledging my fears and loving me through them. I need women who have known me a long time--they remind me of past struggles. I need to keep myself open to new avenues of spiritual community. They see new things.
I need them. And they need me. We challenge each other to keep our eyes on Jesus.
As Peter writes, and I paraphrase: Although we haven't seen Jesus with our eyes, we love him and believe everything he says. He fills us with inexpressible and glorious joy in spite of our troubles, our questions, our doubts--because we know that these troubles, these questions, and these doubts increase our faith. (1:8-9)
And so we prepare our minds for action (13), we obey God's directions (14), we choose God's purposes over our own (holiness,15-16), and love one another (22), and we get rid of anger, malice, deceit, and hypocrisy.
We are chosen by God, we serve together as a royal priesthood (9).