TRUE NORTH

Sepik FamilyBY:  SHARON SEPIK

E-MAIL ADDRESS:  ssepik@gmail.com

BIBLE TEXT:  Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

PERSONAL REFLECTION: Struggles that are bigger than you ever thought possible will be, are currently, or have been part of everyone’s life.  Remembering to seek God during these times is one of the key solutions to finding life’s compass and God’s infinite love and grace.  I know in my short life I have faced what feels like more than a lifetime of struggles and heartaches.  Sometimes, in the midst of a storm, giving up and withdrawing from church and God may seem easiest.  Fortunately, I have always immersed myself in Him instead of withdrawing.

God has given me some of the most amazing blessings and I have been obedient in giving Him the glory for all them (almost).

Cancer – gone!

Divorce – healing!

Loneliness – Godly Husband!

Financial disaster – solved!

Debilitating Back Injury – healed!

It’s been easy to give God the glory and an honor to give testimony for these things.  But there’s that one thing — the one never spoken of. The one that is even hard to pray for.  The one that is kept hidden, deep inside, along with all of the feelings, desperation and pain.  The one shared with so few and to those only sharing bits and pieces.  Family know, but it’s the kind of thing that family doesn’t do well with because its breadth and depth shattered the  our hearts.  It’s the kind of pain that becomes part of your DNA.  The wound, the scar, the proverbial baggage you move about life with — the baggage used as a shield to keep the memories at bay and the pain masked.  The baggage that morphs into a tourniquet that gives you the ability to get up today and hopefully tomorrow.  The tourniquet that turns into the wall that keeps it all together.  It’s the thing that God didn’t fix.  It’s one of those things that makes you wonder if He hears your cries, if He still knows the desires of your heart.

Although you know God is a good God and you know for a fact that God has always been your faithful and loving Jehovah Jireh, the fact doesn’t reside in this kind of place.  Doubt, despair, self-condemnation — the champions of the tourniquet-morphing wall builder — resonate and hold you together and make the NO VACANCY sign for God’s peace and grace.  So you wander about life, saying and doing the right things as a Christian, but you know the NO VACANCY sign is starting to burn a permanent mark inside that will shine on the outside if you don’t allow the cracks to be infiltrated by His Light.

Then God does what God has always done and starts chipping away at the ill-constructed wall of self-preservation.  Out of nowhere, the pain you have come to know as your normal, becomes threatened by God’s blessings.  The prayers that you begged someone else to pray for you because you couldn’t utter another pleading on your own behalf?  Well, God answered, carefully and methodically delivering your MIRACLE once again.  Except this time, you learned how to exist in a false reality and have all but accepted that God would not grant your heart’s desire.  So instead of being loud and boisterous about this blessing, you share pieces of this miracle, waiting for Him to take it back — waiting for this blessing to be undone.  Instead of broadcasting the Miracle, you dance around the edges of His grace and mercy.  You let fear and self-doubt keep the blessing on the perimeter instead of allowing it to take root, as you wait on God to take it because you’ve become comfortable with the void.

Jeremiah 29:11 is God’s declaration to us as His children.  He has plans for me and for you.  Prosperous Plans.  Freedom from Harm.  Hope.  A Future.  This scripture has always been one of my go to scriptures.  It is one that gives me the will to go through struggles, knowing that things may seem bad in the moment but God has a plan for my life that does NOT include HARM.  God’s story for us, as His children, is a PLAN FREE FROM HARM that provides a HOPE and a FUTURE.

PERSONAL APPLICATION:  I spent over three years in this struggle, and I am reminded of how God’s hands are just as perfect as His timing and of Jeremiah 29:11.  I have more than once answered the question of “Are you okay?” by saying I have changed what my definition of what “okay” is.  A few weeks ago I realized the void I felt for more than three long years was being filled and that my definition of being “okay” is fluid.  But it doesn’t matter what my struggles are as long as I let God lead and I continue to follow, acknowledging and accepting ALL of His goodness and His blessings fully.  Allowing His hands and His timing to work in my life, I sing His praises through all of the storms instead of building walls to hide them.  In writing this devotional, the old hymn “Count Your Blessings” comes to mind.  Instead of hiding life’s struggles away, pretending they aren’t there, constant counting and naming blessings is a compass, keeping God and His provisions as my true north.

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows
You are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged,
Thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings,
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one,
Count your blessings,
See what God hath done!
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened
With a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy
you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings,
Every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing
As the days go by.

When you look at others
With their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised
You His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings.
Wealth can never buy
Your reward in Heaven,
Nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict
Whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened,
God is over all;
Count your many blessings,
Angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you
To your journey’s end.

PRAYER:

Dear Lord, please help me to always keep you as my True North.  Help me to sing your praises and accept your blessings without fear of loss or pain.  Help me to accept blessings that come from incomprehensible situations instead of being fearful that these blessings are fleeting, remembering that a blessing is still a blessing whether it lasts for one day or one million days.  Thank you for all you have given me and thank you for the clear sight that comes from seeking You.  In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sharon Sepik works in corporate finance and likes to create mosaic tile designs.  Sharon grew up in Huntsville, Alabama.  She and her family reside in Mount Juliet after living in Orlando, Florida for 18 years.  Sharon has three awesome children: Elise (18), Isabelle (13) and DJ (8) and is married to the best guy in the world – Dave Sepik.

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