Are you unshakable? Are you like a mighty oak tree – well-rooted and strong?
When a tree’s roots go deep and take up adequate nourishment and moisture from the soil, the trunk has an opportunity to grow straight, tall, and sturdy. All of this growth takes place over years – it does not happen in a moment or a day.
Strength grows over time.
Although our culture thrives on the immediate, truly strong women realize that the investment of time in their lives is critical.To be supportive wives, caring daughters, attentive mothers, faithful friends, courageous leaders, and involved citizens, we purposefully and intentionally spend time nurturing these relationships.
We are slow to speak, quick to listen,* and even quicker to offer compassion.
To become such a person, to grow as strong as the mighty oak, we also need to be faithful to ourselves and our Lord. When we engage in spiritual practices that work, our roots go deep. To grow sturdy, we need to worship.
In discussing worship, our first thought is usually about the Sunday services at our local church. That is a good place to begin the conversation – but never the place to end it.
Worship requires time.
Preparation for Sunday morning worship begins Monday morning and continues through Saturday evening. Some churches or pastors provide the texts and topic for the following week at the conclusion of the Sunday service. This allows us time to live in the text – reading and re-reading the Word of the Lord, praying through the Scripture, letting the Word move from the head into the heart. When we arrive at the door of our church, we are ready to enter into a spirit of worship.
Those who do not have the opportunity to live with the text and topic for the coming Sunday always have the opportunity to live into the Word of the previous week. We look for signs and wonders throughout the week – and see how the Word intersects with the people, places, and activities of our daily living.
We hear the Word to love our neighbor – and then have the opportunity to lend a helping hand next door and receive encouragement from a co-worker. We give and receive and know without a doubt that our God is with us and for us and lives among us. We cannot help but grow stronger. The following Sunday we enter the church doors ready to worship.
When we enter church with the expectation of meeting God, we will.
God is already present, and we just need to be attentive. The Creator of all things has chosen to speak to each one of us through the words of the Bible, prayers, and the message and we cannot help but worship. Hearing the testimony of our brothers and sisters lifts our spirits. Singing hymns and spiritual songs brings us before the Lord in an attitude of worship.
At the end of the service, we do not leave alone but with the God who made us and loves us. We are stronger for the encounter.
Yet worship is not a one-hour Sunday morning event.
Worship continues to happen and continues to strengthen us whenever we invest in our relationship with God. If we missed the weekly service at church, we have multiple opportunities throughout the week to be in a spirit of worship.
Think about the moments when you felt awe and sensed the presence of God. That was a moment of worship.
Some women remember the moment their child was born (or for adoptive mothers, placed in their arms for the first time) and know without a doubt that God was present and active.
Other women point to the moment when their purpose in life became crystal clear and know without a doubt that they became life coaches, nurses, or entrepreneurs because God called them to that vocation.
Whatever the moment, when we have those times when we feel a mixture of awe, gratitude, peace, and joy – and that is a moment of worship. These are the times that give us strength.
When we stop limiting worship to a particular time or place, we begin to worship throughout the day. A beautiful sunrise, a word of encouragement, a challenge successfully overcome – when we recognize the presence and activity of God in those moments, we worship.
As we worship, we grow stronger and centered.
This does not mean that we are never worried or anxious or doubtful. This means that no matter what issues or fears occupy our heads, deep down in the core of our being we know that God is with us and for us.
This is the strength that allows us to be what God intends – supportive wives, caring daughters, attentive mothers, faithful friends, courageous leaders, and involved church and community members.
Take time to grow roots and grow strong in God. You will be unshakable!
Photo by Elizabeth Horn
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves Bel Air UMC in Bel Air, MD, as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions/Outreach and on the Boards of Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United and Be the Change Baltimore addressing issues of homelessness. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of aging parents, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance. Her sermons are archived on the following sites: www.MtCarmelChapel.org and www.BAUMC.com.
I’m Carol Pazdersky, a pastor at Bel Air United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD (Jory’s church). Spiritual formation is my passion! I have seen so many women facing burn-out because of the heavy load they carry – being a supportive partner, involved parent, care-giving daughter, strong business leader, and dedicated friend. With all that is happening, the spiritual life can take a back-seat – and without the firm foundation of Jesus, we may feel like a dry well. What are your greatest spiritual needs? How can I offer support and encouragement for your journey? On the other hand, some women have figured out the balance between faith, family, friendship, and business. I would love to have you share your wisdom as well. Email me at pazderskyc@ baumc.com with your victories, challenges, questions, and thoughts, and I will respond to them in the coming months. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.