by Carol Sokolsky
It was January 20, 2016, and I sat early in the morning with my coffee, my First5 app devotional and my Bible open to Exodus 13. I posted these words that morning, and today I wanted to share with you. I never want to forget to remember.
God’s past acts of goodness to me? Well, I’ve realized that God used the long route with me, not the short one. But oh, how today’s message – “Remember, remember, God is faithful, remember”— took me down memory lane.
I don’t know why some people just get it and others, like me, fight it— “it” being accepting the incredible gift of Jesus’ grace and unfailing love. But I just didn’t get it, or maybe it’s best to say I just pushed Him away. I felt He had abandoned me as I was living in a state of trauma with my (ex)husband, father of my babies, the unfathomable grief as I buried my son, losing my Dad at such an early age, watching the love-of-my-life husband’s body deteriorate for 9 years before he got cancer, and a son so addicted to drugs. Oh yeah, it felt like no Jesus was watching over this girl.
After trusting Jesus as a little girl, I decided that God forgot who I was and what I was living through, so I ran— ran far away— because all I could do was remember the pain and the feeling of betrayal and abandonment and deep, gut-wrenching grief. I found nothing to remember of God’s faithfulness. Nothing.
So glad my story doesn’t end there! When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, after so many years of pain and just struggling everyday of his life, I somehow hit my “uncle” spot. You know the feeling, when you have just exhausted every possible explanation and hope, and all you can do is just scream, “uncle!” That’s where I was in 2010… 59 years old and struggling to even talk to God, much less think He’d be willing to talk to me. But there I was, sitting in a hospital room with my husband who had his lung removed and facing who-knew-what, where I literally begged God to just help me… help my husband. It was all I knew how to pray.
Fast forward six months. Still not “God-worthy,” I didn’t think, and not actively seeking God, but knowing I needed hope and needed God to find me again. So I prayed for that to happen… just please God, help me find hope. I hated anything religious— oh, the piety and hypocrisy of it all! Then one day in September, a post card was delivered that basically said, “If you are tired of religion and just want a relationship with God, join us Sunday, October 10th.” Whaaat??! God showed up on a postcard! I cried, put it on my refrigerator and couldn’t wait until October 10th, the day I walked into the coolest church on the planet… The Hills Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It took awhile, and I was skeptical, but these people were real. No pretense, no pomp and circumstance. They just loved Jesus and I loved the worship set—new songs I had never heard and friendly people! Oh yeah, and great coffee. See, Jesus saved my dark little soul as a little girl, and yet my choice was to run. But He never stopped loving me, and just when the light of hope was about to go out, Jesus showed up on a postcard!
The end of the story is not written yet, because, thankfully, I’m still here with work to do. The bittersweet part of this story is that my precious, sweet husband lost his battle with cancer on April 7, 2012. BUT nine days before he died he accepted Jesus, so he left my arms and walked right into the presence of Jesus, and finally met my older son, too. I bet that was a cool moment. Oh, the beautiful strangeness of it all! And after many years of chained addiction, my younger son found Jesus— yes!— and many struggles later, he is now the worship minister at that same church that sent me a postcard. See, God must have an incredible heart… and a great sense of humor.
God took me on the long route, for sure, because he knew that I would have turned around and gone back to Egypt at the first sign of trouble, so I get the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert. I get it now, and I’m so looking forward to all that First5 shares with us about that journey, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to be looking in a mirror much of the time. I’m just so very, very thankful that Jesus loves me!
Carol Sokolsky loves to write about anything that touches her heart, and she regularly posts her thoughts in response to others on the First5 app. She starts every morning with her First5, her Bible, and coffee. She encourages everyone to find out why the First5 app makes the Bible— every chapter in every book— so relevant to everyday life, and why she loves to spend her first few moments every morning with Jesus… and a million First5 women— along with a few guys— and always, always with coffee in hand. Find the First5 app or go to first5.org.