He began meeting with a psychologist to talk through his pain. And through these meetings, Jim had a major breakthrough.
He realized that a big part of his fear was based on his experiences with his mother.
She’d been in nursing home in her final days and Jim was working full time. He wasn’t able to visit as much as he wanted to.
“When she died, I totally botched the whole experience. Hadn’t thought things through. I made bad decisions. And I hadn’t resolved any of it, and now it was manifesting itself with Judy’s funeral.”
At this time — while he was sorting through the emotional baggage he’d been holding onto for years — he got a call from a fellow pastor. She was going on bed rest while pregnant and she needed Jim to fill in for her. He accepted. And it may have been the best decision he’d made in years.
His lesson that week: the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke. As the story goes, an angel came. With that angel’s presence, the people who witnessed it knew all things were possible.
“As I worked on that sermon, I realized I was writing a sermon to myself,” he said. “I realized God was saying, ‘I’m with you, and you’re going to do some good things.’ … It was a totally religious experience. I was totally engaged in the healing process, and I knew it. The more I prepared, the more I wanted to prepare it.”
It renewed his sense of mission, his energy, his confidence. His decision making improved.
“I trusted that God was in control,” he said. “After that, the task of preparing for Judy’s funeral became very possible. It was like an awakening … felt like something was going to be happening in the months ahead.”