|Photo by Amelia Grace Photography|
By Cheryl Laurenza
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and leap like calves released.”
Malachi 4:2 (NIV)
Okay, so more ancient history from me. :) I remember back around 1988, when we were living in NH and had started attending this little Church. At the time, Pastor Andy was transitioning out, and we were devastated, as he was a great pastor and shepherd. Through the usual time of looking at candidates, praying, and seeking God's man, Pastor Bill was brought in, along with his awesome wife and their boys. They truly had a heart after Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV).
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
We watched that little church grow to capacity, not just because of the pastor - hear me! It was because God was anointing that place. One of the most healing times of my life was when Pastor Bill started a small support group that he named "LEAP" in reference to the latter scripture. God did so much healing in my heart and life, I began to understand what true freedom was, and it started a lifelong process that would take a book for me to share. As a result of this foundation, I was "called" to becoming a Christian counselor. I have written before on that process, so I need not repeat it here. Yet, I want to point out a couple of pertinent things to you.
A: You have to trust safe people that God places in your life and open up.
B: Even when there is loss of someone God has used in your life, there is a reason He moves people on and brings in others. There is a season...
Dear Friends, He knows what you need to bring you through every stage of life, and yet it is perfectly natural to grieve. However, be alert and aware of what might be springing up (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).
I had no way of knowing that God was planning to bring in His person for that season to draw others to himself, to bring healing and wholeness to many, and to change lives so they could change lives. It has been that way through my life, and I believe it will continue.
As Jeff and I move on in our journey heading back to New England, we grieve the loss of many, as they do us, and yet we look forward knowing what type of God we serve. I know there is a body to be part of, lives to touch and be touched by, and all under the watchful direction of The Good Shepherd.
Cheryl Laurenza, MA, LPC, NCC
The Refuge Counseling Center, LLC
3211 South Cherokee Lane
Woodstock, GA 30188
P: 678 693 2281
F: 888 971 3910
Click here to hear "Beauty For Ashes" by Crystal Lewis