By Kathy Ferguson Litton:
Kathy Ferguson Litton understands how life contains the unexpected. Her journey as a pastor’s wife, mother of three and life in the suburbs of Denver was interrupted when she became a widow. Her life became instantly unfamiliar. Yet God emerged an unexpected journey through corporate life, vocational ministry and then second season of being a pastor’s wife. She is married to Dr. Ed Litton who is pastor at First Baptist North Mobile in Alabama. She presently serves at the North American Mission Board as National Consultant of Ministry to Pastor’s Wives.
My worship was radically changed on Sunday morning, July 28, 2002, in Denver, Colorado. It had never been more difficult for me to take my usual pastor’s wife place at Riverside Baptist Church—only I was no longer the pastor’s wife and my husband was no longer the pastor. Three days earlier Rick had been killed in a tragic car accident and I was now a forty-five year old widow.
The service that morning ushered me into a strange season of worship—a season of worshipping in the dark. Things that once were clear now seemed veiled in darkness.
I was limping badly and my face was heavily bruised from the injury I sustained in the accident. My faith was in a similar condition. Stunned faces filled the room. The loving, caring eyes of our church family were on me as I found my seat. I felt their embrace from afar.
Worship began. The screens prompted the words, “God is good”, yet my heart was far from believing those words. In that moment I made a huge discovery—His goodness, that had once been clear, was now hard to see in the dark. Good circumstances prop up our faith; prop up our worship. However, my circumstances were devastating and had dismantled my world.
Worship seemed inappropriate.
Has life created crisis in your worship? Do the words on the screens belie the scenes in your life?
The verse “we walk by faith and not by sight” had never held such powerful meaning. “Sight” was keeping my heart from worship and yet faith was demanding it.
On that day I began the struggle of reconciling my theology to the landscape of my life. God was behaving unpredictably. As Larry Crabb has aptly stated, “One may not conclude that God is good by studying life….” I was definitely studying life—my life; and my heart was making painful conclusions.
Yet worship was appropriate. Although circumstances had changed; God had not. The screens were right, “God is good.” I had to strap myself to the truths of the Word. My heart was not reliable.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (Ps 46:1-3, NKJ).
God is unchanging. Even in the dark, where His ways are mysterious, baffling and painful, the unpredictable turns do not suggest His character or His nature have diminished.
My eyes and heart adjusted to the dark. My faith did also. Worshipping in the dark has become my most sacred moment. The inescapable process of “being tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7) produces inexplicable joy. It is as precious gold.
My friend, when your faith adjusts to your dark place, you will find that HE is STILL the God you knew in the light.
Flourish is an equipping community for ministry wives. You may find this and other blogs here written by ministry wives to address the unique context of ministry.
Twitter Kathy Ferguson Litton: kferg16