It has been almost 2 weeks since my journey of Operation Solid Lives (OSL) ended. OSL is an intense decipleship program offered by our church, Church of Living Water. (http://www.livingwater.com/) Boy what a journey it was! I can't tell you completely what it has meant to me but I will try to do justice to how it has impacted my life.
OSL is one of those things that makes you want to pull your hair out at times, and at others weep with appreciation and jump with joy for the relationship that is forged with our Lord because of it. Let me explain.
When Mark and I first started OSL I was excited to start a new study and journey. They encourage couples to do it together which was exciting for me but Mark wasn't as eager as I was. Don't get me wrong, he wanted to do it but he went with me more because I asked him and he is an awesome husband and loves me. Like I said I was excited, until we got there and were greeted with a couple of unexpected realities.
The first reality was that we would NOT be sitting with each other. Now, I was partially excited to do this because my hubby and I would be together! We haven't been able to do anything together in quite a while and I was looking forward to spending time in a group getting to know others with my best friend. When we walked in though and looked for our name tags we quickly found out that our seating would be at separate tables, Mark with men and me with other women. Our smiles and anticipations both sank. Oh well, we would sit as close as we could and try make the best of it.
The second was the rules. Lots of rules! Mark and I are not exactly the best at being consistent with structured kinds of things. First there was only 2 hours of TV, movies, reading or music a week unless it was Christian music or teachings. That seemed to hurt most people but what got me the most was the Bible verse memorization. I do not memorize easily. There were a lot of things we had to do such as reading certain chapters in our bibles every day, journaling, listening to teachings, coming to all of the meetings, attend the church services and sit in the first 3 rows (which I still don't get).
I wasn't feeling the home teachings so much (good teacher, just long and repetitive at times), neither was I enjoying the sitting in the first three rows (we are back third of the church sitters.. lol) but as I said above those bible verses were just not my friend. I was trying so hard to memorize them and as I tried I would get one part mixed up with another verse or just go blank. I was really beating myself up until my 4th class, when I visited my coach and ended up in tears over it. She quickly reminded me that I don't have to be perfect, that I have only to try and that it was more important that those verses got into my heart! What a relief that day was because the expectation of having to recite my un-memorized verses was taking over every thought and ruining my days. I was reminded that there is "NO condemnation in Christ Jesus!"
Well, I was almost on my last week of OSL and I was proud of my accomplishments of journaling and reading and even memorizing some of my verses but didn't really feel there was this huge change in me that I was expecting, until April 5th.
My dad died on April 6th, 2001 and on the 5th I was reflecting on that time. As I thought about it pain and tears welled up inside of me. I thought about the time that I spent in Idaho taking care of him (he was unconscious most of our time there), and the time that I read the bible to him hoping he would hear me and turn to Christ. Most of all I thought about my last moments with him before we left to come home because we had to go back to work. I said good bye and we drove our 8 hours home and the next morning I got the call, he had died.
My heart was stricken with grief by the fact that I wasn't there when he died, I left one day too soon. The grief was overwhelming wondering if my dad had accepted Christ before his death or not. As I cried I felt fear and panic rise up in me. I had to do something, and I found myself thinking frantically, "I have to find my bible, where is my bible, I just need to read my bible and I will be ok!" Those thoughts stopped me dead in my tracks.
In the past if I was hurting so much that panic would arise I would run to food, the TV, movies, or other self destructive activities, but that day, for the very first time I was running to God's word! Life itself! It hit me, the last 3 weeks of OSL had infiltrated so deep into my spirit that running to God was my hope, not the things of this world that did nothing but hurt me. I had hope in my Christ, in His Word, and in the Life I knew it would give me. I was not feeling a lot the first three weeks because I was storing up what God wanted me to be able to use in the future. I was storing up HIS HOPE!
When I ran to the Word, God didn't stop the pain, but He did stop the panic, and how grateful I am for that. Realizing I can feel pain without falling apart is a huge thing for me and I am so thankful for my church for offering OSL because I don't think I would have this hope otherwise.
Was OSL the best thing I have ever done? I don't know. But what I do know is that without it, I wouldn't be where I am today and I couldn't get to the places I know God will lead me to in the future.