I wanted to share my story with you.
My name is Stephen Merritt, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee, am married and at long last have found a church to call home. Redeemer Lutheran Church. It is a solid, confessional LCMS congregation that I like quite a bit.
I was drawn to Lutheranism after a long, long search for a church. Drawn to liturgy, the Lutheran church is a natural for me. As I read about the various Lutheran bodies, I focused on the Missouri Synod, but also the confessional movement. I am new to the latter and any recommendations in learning more about this topic will be appreciated!
This is not my first venture into the Lutheran church, but my second. I first investigated this church about a year ago and am now back after a lapse! Things were going so well for me at church too! Well here’s what happened – my wife and I need your prayers. This is intended merely as an update and not as a whine or desperate plea for attention!
Over a year ago, my wife lost her job over a year ago due to health issues. She has fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder and is trying for social security disability. So far, she’s been turned down two of her three times and the final appeal is next. That’s the one that is before the judge and is the most likely one to be approved we here. It’s also her final appeal. If that’s not approved, I don’t know what weï¿½re going to do.
We’ve been struggling to get by on what I earn from my full-time job (I am a sales rep for a book wholesaler) and two days part-time. It’s been extremely difficult. We often have to go with only one meal a day and sometimes have had to forgo even that. I make just enough income that we don’t usually qualify for public assistance. Often, we have had trouble paying our bills and keeping the utilities on. I only have one day off a week and have been getting more and more tired.
But in the end I reacted to all of this badly. Instead of turning to and sticking with God, Jesus and the church when I needed them most, I got caught up in my problems and wallowed in them. The result? I drifted out of church, decided I was too tired and didn’t have the time. That led to me not even thinking about spiritual matters, which were once a nearly all-consuming passion.
However, just when things seemed at their worst, God reminded me that He is in control and that started me on a journey back to Him.
Here’s what happened. Back when my wife, Cynthia, had her job, we’d financed a new car. After she lost her job, however, we began having trouble keeping up with the payments and that car was eventually repossessed. We borrowed the money to pay the loan company and get our car back from my mother and thought we we’re safe. The next day, however, we called the bank and they told us they knew we couldn’t afford the car and wanted an additional three months worth of payments up front first or they’d keep it. We told them to keep it.
God didn’t let us down! By 4 pm that same day I owned a new, used car outright. My landlord works for Saturn and put us in touch with one of his wholesalers who got us a fantastic deal on a good car. Both of my stepsons and my son in law are mechanics and between the three of them, we are covered.
Then I got a bonus at work that while not unanticipated, was much much larger than suspected. And this allowed us to get caught up on our bills and I now make just enough to make ends meet most of the time. It’s given us the ability to make and stick to a budget. It’s just another way the Lord has been saying to me, “Don’t worry, Stephen, I’m in control and won’t abandon you.”
We do face bankruptcy due to the repossession but at least I now know that if Cynthia doesnï¿½t get approved for disability we can get by. It’ll be tight and not easy but possible. And that’s what I wanted more than anything else in this crisis. I do not want my wife put in the position of having to go back to work. She just cannot do that and doesn’t need the extra stress.
Little things, little miracles if you will, like this seem to keep happening of late to us. Things still look bleak, but God has reminded me, no PROVED to me, time and again that He won’t abandon us. Once again, I am filled with hope, with the knowledge that we will make it.
Cynthia’s not the only one with health issues. I too have bipolar disorder. Before the repossession we just couldn’t afford to have both of us go to the doctor and buy medication. The depression took over to the point that all I did was lay around.
Because things have started looking up, I’ve begun seeing a new doctor, am on the medication I need and things there too are improving.
The upshot of all this positive life change is that I am once again pursuing God, and a personal relationship with Him. I know that I need to stop church hopping and make a solid decision for Christ. To give my life fully and completely to him. I long to do that.
After much study and prayer, I’ve decided to return to the Lutheran church, and while not yet a member I like what I’ve read so far. This Sunday I will be returning to Redeemer (it is pastored by Rev. Philip Young), and unlike my last visit to this church, I will stay on this time. I fully intend to pursue membership.
I am still learning about the Lutheran Church but am pleased that I have at last found a church to call home. It feels nice. Nice too to finally have come to the place where I can at long last completely give my life to Christ.
Thank you for listening to me, for letting me take up so much of your time. It feels good to be sharing this. This whole experience has actually greatly strengthened my faith in God, because I know that He is ultimately in control. Things will work out in the end, I think, but we must have the faith.
If you or someone you know is facing difficulties, please encourage them to turn to the Lord and not away from Him. I made a mistake by allowing myself to become so discouraged that I gave up on everything.
I aim to fix that forthwith!
At the risk of ending on a melodramatic note I want to share my favorite line from my favorite hymn. It came to me as I wrote this just how true this is.
“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”
If you have the time, take a look at my website, and please pray for my wife and myself.
Thank you for allowing me to take up so much of your time. I greatly appreciate it and look forward to your response.
May God richly bless you.