He Went Before Me

My name is Nancy McIntire and I along with three of my six children have attended Lighthouse for a year and a half.  My other three children live in San Diego.

As I think over the past few months, I see several areas where the Lord in His sovereignty, went before me and provided exactly what I needed from His stores of grace. I would like to share two examples with you that quickly come to mind.  First, God’s grace was visible through the offering of the Women’s Equip class that lasted several weeks beginning in January before Covid-19 and secondly, the timely preaching and small group fellowship time during the past few months of lockdown.

When I signed up for the Women’s Equip Class I had no idea how much I would need the information taught each week by Jen Kira and Aliza Hawkins. We worked through an amazing chart that depicted how our responses to difficult circumstances in life lead us toward either the worship of God or sinful attitudes and actions that may continue to further despair, spiraling downward. The only hope is to repent and turn away from sin and return to worshipping the Lord to be restored to the joy of our salvation.  After studying “the chart,” I could clearly see where the choice points were that depending on my choice would move me upward towards Christ, fueling my faith or away from Christ towards sinful patterns including idols that I trusted in rather than Christ. I also learned how to lament properly by turning sorrows and griefs into opportunities of trusting in God’s promises and His character. These concepts have been life-changing for me.

By way of background, just before the class was scheduled to start, we had just learned that a job that had been offered was no longer available. To make up the difference, we all needed to find work or more hours immediately. For me personally, this meant entering the work force after raising my family.  I had doubts regarding my ability to even do this. It was in the class that I was reminded that I didn’t need to have the strength to go back to work because God did and His strength is made perfect in weakness which I definitely qualified on that one.

The Lord graciously provided work for all of us. He gave the strength as it was needed. During the recent weeks our hours were cut so we are looking for other jobs once again, but I have ‘the chart” to help train my heart to respond to His grace and trust Him for provision.

The second area of grace is the consistent care from our pastors through the sermons and resources   they have faithfully shared.  Pastor Kim’s sermon on Loneliness struck a chord inside of me. I have felt loneliness numerous times since quarantine. Even though I live with three of my children, I felt isolated since most of them work with the public and quarantined themselves within our house.  Also, someone that was very close to me began a romantic relationship, which, while I was happy for her, further isolated me, as we could not connect in the way we had usually interacted.  Added to all of that was my wedding anniversary which occurred just days before the sermon.  It has been 16 years since my husband passed and over the years it had gotten easier to make it through that day; however, this year was more difficult than I was expecting it to be for some reason. Was it because of the uncertainty and strain of the pandemic?  Was it all of the changes that had occurred in our family in such a short time? As I prayed asking God for wisdom as to the why, He was going before me and preparing the message for that first Sunday in May.  It was in the sermon that Pastor Kim mentioned that loneliness can be stronger if there is sin involved with the circumstances.  As I prayed for the Lord to show His grace, He exposed the sin of jealousy and pride in the form of self- pity brought to the surface by my friend’s romantic relationship.   Even though I am so pleased and excited for her, I experienced jealous feelings since she had what I no longer had.  The loneliness had improved after a time of repentance, but it still lurked inside.

Pastor Kim also encouraged us in his sermon to share with our small groups if loneliness was an issue. I didn’t want to share with my group because I knew I would be blubbering the whole time, but I also knew I needed to share , to be a part of my community, so I reluctantly attended and shared.  It was good to receive yet another grace to humbly need their effective prayers as they reached out to me. Thank you for allowing me to share God’s workings of grace in our lives.