In these unprecedented times, God is unchanging. He is real. He is present. And He comes to all who call on Him. This is not a wishful sentiment, but a reality more certain than the one we can see. It is not based on emotions or feelings, but on God’s Word. Which is good, because even though I wrestle with fear, God is faithful.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jill. I have been married to Dan for 30 years. Our two children are young adults now. One just graduated from college; one just started. We have been friends with the Riggins family for well over 20 years. They have watched our kids grow up. We have watched Mike and Sarah’s kids marry and have kids of their own. The line between friends and family was crossed many years ago. Today, the best word I know to describe us all is tribe. This is my story. Actually, it’s hardly my story at all, it’s His.
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago in a Roman Catholic family—the old-world, traditional Polish kind. Very strict. Very observant. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I even wore a lace chapel veil on my head when I went to Sunday Mass. And Sundays weren’t the only times we attended church. There were holidays and holy days and all sorts of weekday services too. When the rules changed, and Catholics were no longer required to fast meat on Fridays, our family still packed cheese sandwiches for school lunch and ate fish sticks for dinner. The nuns at our parochial school wore the long black and white habits, with enormous rosary beads hanging from their side and had a fierce, no nonsense attitude. From my early religious experiences, I understood that God existed and was to be feared, but it was not all clear to me how I could be saved or have a relationship with God. I wanted to believe that God loved me, I just didn’t know. But I was searching.
Things changed when my parents let us attend public high school. There I met many other kids searching for God, too. Here I was at a ginormous new school, seeking a new identity. No Purpose. Lots of drama. Not at all sure what was real and what was meaningful in life.
At 15, I got a ride to the shopping mall, sought out a bookstore, and bought a Bible that I secretly read in my room. It was a paraphrased version– kind of a modern looking book with lots of pictures. Even so, I could not reconcile the discrepancies between what I read, and what I had experienced—especially in the book of Acts. The God in the Bible seemed so much more real and active than anything I had ever known. I had lots of questions and few answers. If this God I was reading about wanted to be known, I wanted to know Him.
It took a while for me to wrap my mind around this new Truth I was reading about. In March of my senior year of high school, when I was 17 years old, I got saved at a prayer meeting a classmate had invited me to. I was convicted that nothing I could do would make me a good person or earn my salvation. It was by the grace of God through the blood of Christ. A gift. His life for my life. My life for His life. I was no longer my own. I could have a relationship with the living God. He really loved me. There were no words for the joy I felt.
I can see now that His hand had always been upon me even when I was unaware. He protected me when I did not know I was in danger. He brought people into my life when I was ready to hear the Truth. He made a path of redemption for me when I strayed and compromised with the world. He has been good to me and He continues to be good– all the time. As life has changed with the Coronavirus and disruptions in the economy, with civil unrest and violence, He brings peace. The peace He brings is not passive, but reliant on faith in His Word.
One verse I hold onto when I feel uncertain is in Hebrews 13:8. It says that the Lord will not leave us or forsake us. And when I say it—out loud—I feel reassured of a reality that is more certain than the one I can see. What about you? Do you feel unsure or fearful? Do you have a concern that you would like prayer for? Thank you for reading my story. We would like to hear yours.