Guest Post by Summer Daniel Black
Summer and I both attended the recent “Forgotten” study and I had the privilege of being seated at the table with her during the discussion time. She agreed to share this with us – I hope you are as blessed and I was when I read this. (Colleen)
Forgotten. This word has been seared into my brain for the past month. Not as a negative term, but as a reminder of our next community Bible study with our Beth Moore conference prep team. I wasn’t able to attend the first two meetings, and whined to my friend Kim about my inability to go. She sweetly reminded me that when I was supposed to go, God would get me there. I had actually forgotten about my two minute whining session until I sat down to journal my thoughts today. Boy was my friend right!
Well, enough with the whining! I was determined to attend the Forgotten study. My husband was off work, no other plans had been made, I signed up to help (therefore obligated), and I was going!
Before the study began, my job was to assist in photographing each woman as she came in. The plan was to take a picture with a sign that read “I AM NOT FORGOTTEN,” then use multiple props to take silly pictures. Although I understood the seriousness of the topic that night, it was easier for me to get lost in the Elton John-esque glasses, pink boa, and green zebra cowboy hat than to really face the topic of study…that was until I sat down at my table. I began to read the questions posed on a worksheet we were given, and I suddenly longed for my cute glasses and pink boa. Forgotten. Had I ever feltforgotten? I wanted to write a simple yes, but my heart was screaming all the time. It was embarrassing to realize that I felt forgotten. I have lots of people who love me, surround me, and support me. I serve a God who absolutely loves me, provides for me, protects me. But in the midst of all of these people and My Heavenly Father…I felt completely forgotten. Those words make me cringe just thinking about them in the comfort of my own brain, but they make me physically hurt as I write them. (I feel like I should add a disclaimer here. Please understand that not one individual or certain group of people has made me feel this way intentionally. I know that I allowed myself to feel this emotion, and chose not to share my feelings with anyone.)
I wanted so badly to shake every emotion that was entering my body at that point; I felt ungrateful, selfish, bad. I began to mentally break apart relationships in my life, and scanned my daily calendar. I recalled texts, emails, Facebook messages, letters, phone calls, and conversations I had been a part of recently. Service opportunities I had been asked or offered to be a part of flooded my mind, and then it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I seemed to be the initiator in most of those conversations, unless I was needed for something. I was determined, and loved, helping my friends, family, strangers, and my church…but who had my back? All of these realizations began to sting my heart,and the study hadn’t even started yet!
Priscilla Shirer appeared on two massive screens in our meeting room and my heart started pounding. What was she going to say, and would her words settle the internal emotions I was experiencing? She began to tell a story about a shopping trip she had with her two young sons. She told how her younger son spotted a lifeless sparrow lying on the sidewalk of a busy shopping area. Her sons asked her a million questions about the bird, but the one question that caught her heart was “Mom, why hasn’t anybody noticed this bird?” Here she took us into Luke 12. Jesus was telling a story about the fifth sparrow. The fifth sparrow wasn’t worth much to the people in the market place at that time, but it meant something to God. He explained that not one sparrow is forgotten by God. Not one! The verses go on to tell us that “Indeed, the very hairs of your heads are all numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”
I sat at my table feeling forgotten. Feeling like that fifth sparrow. My health was struggling, I was in need of tests, possible surgeries, and medications far too expensive for my family to afford. My mind began spinning about other things going on in my life, my call to leave the workforce, move away from my extended family, and serve in my home. I wake up every morning determined to live and love like Jesus, but sat there questioning my calling, my purpose.
As Kim and I drove home I decided to enjoy our visit, and not dive too deeply into reflection. When I pulled up to my house, I got out of the car and noticed something lying motionless on our sidewalk. A lump suddenly entered my throat, and my stomach sank. I fought back tears as I went inside and talked with my husband. The lifeless object lying on our sidewalk was a bird. I asked Ben what kind of a bird it was, and he answered “Oh, it’s just an old sparrow.” Just an old sparrow. The fifth sparrow. In that moment God revealed to me the very statement I held up for my picture an hour earlier. I AM NOT FORGOTTEN. “Don’t be afraid (Summer); you are worth more than many sparrows.”
I am an extremely detailed person, so I’m not sure why it surprised me that God would send me a message in this way. I knew the next morning the sparrow needed to be buried, and again God provided the details. As the door slammed behind me, I looked up to see a shovel leaning against our garage, ready to break ground. The wind began to blow harder and my heart started to beat out of my chest. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and my knees began to buckle as I turned up a few piles of wet ground. My heart was screaming Thank You Lord for not forgetting me! When I tried to speak, all that would come from my lips were whales of gratefulness. I placed the bird in its final resting place, turned to walk back into our house, and the wind stopped completely. The rain drizzle started to slow, and the most glorious sunshine broke through the clouds. I began to laugh through the tears in my eyes, as I stood in amazement at what just happened. God had not forgotten me. Today I stand on His promise that He never will!
What about you? Have you ever felt forgotten? (Forgive me if I have made you feel this way.) Take heart my friends, because God does not forget a single sparrow, and you are worth more than many sparrows. He has not forgotten you, and He never will.