*This week on the blog, our Grace Group Director, Rachel Caldwell, is our guest writer to share part of her story*
Church, God was at work this past Sunday through Lou & Nathan Fellingham. I know He was – I saw tears, I saw knees bowed in prayer, I heard Pastor Aaron say that it was good for his soul. I can boldly proclaim this because God is always at work in our lives, right?
The fact that God is always at work is a simple truth that we can easily become too familiar with if we are not careful. But, on the contrary, if we are sensitive to such truths, then we can most clearly see and experience God at work in our lives – oftentimes in the unknown.
To many of you, the Fellinghams may have been unknown. To others, Grace Church may have been unknown – perhaps you were a first time visitor. In that case, I bet it would be safe to say that almost every person surrounding you was unknown? And, maybe you were sitting there asking yourself, “What’s going on here? Where’s the Pastor? Is he going to give a sermon?”
Five years ago, on August 26, 2012, Lou & Nathan Fellingham last visited Grace Church and led the church in worship, and it was the same Sunday that my husband, John and I first visited Grace Church. That morning too was powerful and I can personally testify to it because I was the recipient of God’s mighty acts – God at work in the unknown.
“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
I write this blog today to tell of God’s mighty acts in my life and to celebrate his abundant goodness through what he has done.
Much of what I described above tells of our experience that first Sunday at Grace – we had never heard of Lou Fellingham, we were wondering where the Pastor was and if he would give a sermon and we had an overall sensitivity to being first time visitors. John & I had moved to Ridgewood just one week prior – a lot of things were feeling unknown to us. But, we felt warmly welcomed and the longer I sat listening to Lou’s beautiful gift of music, the more my heart began to stir.
Between songs, Lou stopped. She said she felt the Holy Spirit put something on her heart that she wanted to share. To the best of my memory, she said “I believe there is someone in our audience today that is struggling to have a child and I want to give you hope.” She may have said more but that’s all I needed to hear. I folded my head into John’s shoulder and the tears began to flow uncontrollably.
You see, John & I had been on a four year journey of praying for God to bless us with a child. And, at that particular point in the journey, I was at my lowest of lows – spiritually and emotionally – as it related to this deep desire within me. God was doing other exciting things in our lives but this one circumstance seemed to, slowly but surely, extinguish my hope.
As we were exiting that morning, I stopped to let Lou know that what she shared was meant for me. And, she gave me the biggest embrace – almost as if Jesus himself was hugging me, or at least that’s how it felt. And then she began to pray for me. From that moment forward, my hope began to reignite.
“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”
The other part of this story is that just 4 months prior in April of 2012 God had called me to quit my job – my dream job, the job into which I had poured so much over the last ten years. It didn’t make sense and I was scared. But, with much prayer and the support of my husband, I stepped forward in obedience – the unknowns became more unknown.
By August, the flame of hope in my soul was down to a tiny ember and God used Lou to reignite that flame. God used an unknown person in an unknown place surrounded by hundreds of other unknown people – God was at work in the unknown. And, he still is – for me and for you.
I will be forever grateful that I was able to see and experience God at work during that time. For as I mentioned earlier, if I had allowed the idea of God being at work all the time to become too familiar, I may have missed these moments and I may not have been obedient. And, today may look much different. But instead, I get the privilege of sharing the story of God’s mighty acts.
In November of 2013, John & I were beyond blessed with the gift of our son Jack. He is truly and simply a gift from God — an answer to our deepest prayers, a mighty act of God.
“The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.”
As I write this, I pray that it brings honor and glory to God! This is not a story of what happened in my life but rather a story of how God has worked in my life. Walking in obedience does not guarantee every prayer gets answered, but it does guarantee that it will bring us closer to God and increase our joy regardless of our circumstances, and that is far better. My prayer for you is that, if your flame of hope is getting dim, today you would be reminded of God’s greatness and that alone would reignite your flame.
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”
This past Sunday, when Lou returned to Grace 5 years after God used her powerfully in my life, she referenced Psalm 145 during worship – it is the basis of her song “You Reign.” As I prayed about writing this blog, I was awe struck at how perfectly this Psalm applied to my story. I don’t believe this is a coincidence, and so here it all is. God is always at work in the unknown.