July 3, 2020

For many of us, the mere mentioning of “family tree” can elicit an immediate overflowing of negative emotions. These emotions bring to the surface feelings of rejection, confusion, and abandonment. It serves as a reminder of all the pieces of our pasts we worked so endlessly to sweep under the rug. So, when Pastor Selena used this term to close out our sermon series entitled #FAM, I knew I needed to lean in for what The Lord was about to speak. I have learned we can always count on our Heavenly Father to use topics which make us squirm in discomfort to grow and draw us nearer to His heart.

I must admit I was apprehensive sitting there with my family knitted together through the miracle of adoption. While I know the beauty of this incredible blessing, I also know the pain, the trauma and the loss that can accompany it. The Lord, like the good and faithful Father He is, drew immediately close and replaced my anxiety with an overwhelming peace in knowing He is unwavering in His pursuit to heal and restore the broken pieces of His children’s’ hearts. I also knew, just like us, sitting in the warmly lit church, were other families praying to be healed of their own past of broken branches. Branches in our seasons of winter can leave us feeling empty and barren as leaves fall away. As people fall away and sceneries change. But even there, in the dead of our very own winters, God is near, refining us through the strengthening of our foundations and the deepening of our roots. All, come spring, we might more fully produce in Him and be a more perfect display of the love of Christ that lives in every leaf of our lives.

While much conversation, prayer, and healing came from this message, the most beautiful and challenging part was the story Pastor Selena told of her Papa. A man who found and entered a relationship with The Lord later in life. She spoke of how he accepted Christ and how he immediately exclaimed he wanted to be baptized. He was so adamant they went out and broke the ice on a frozen pond so he could be baptized right then and there.

What a challenging call to action! Can I say I am living like that? Am I so on fire for The Lord and so urgently chasing after the things of God I am willing to break the ice right here and now even if it hurts or is uncomfortable? Am I living so fully devoted to the ways of Christ His light can be seen shining through every piece of my life? When others look at my words, actions, or posts on social media, do they see a representation of Him in me -- or the world? Do they feel welcomed, drawn in and grafted into the circle of my family? In some arenas, I am sure the answer would be yes. The truth is, I fall short daily. I fail and I forget to wear love in all I do. I struggle to forgive swiftly, and I can be closed off. And I know that is not the heart of our Savior. His heart is I would be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And today, I am praising Him for reminding me through corrective instruction which found me on the back row of a church known as The Well. A church who has so lovingly grafted me in and called me #FAM.

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Shannon Tatum

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