This partnership development phase of our journey towards ministry has been full of lots of ups and downs. Some days we are encouraged and excited, other days we are depressed and worried. This post was written several weeks ago and I am just now getting it put up on here. So keep in mind that this is a good illustration of part of our process, but we are actually quite a bit past the events written about here. Also, thank you to Gary Yandell for the beautiful picture used here.
“It’s a good thing these sermons don’t have anything to do with what’s going on in our lives,” John said with irony as we loaded the kids into the van after church. I smiled, and asked him to elaborate. We had just heard a sermon on the message of peace that Jesus offers, if we but submit to him. John and I had both been lacking peace during part of our week.
For John it was feeling overwhelmed with what he wanted to accomplish in comparison to the very little time he had to accomplish it. It meant giving up some the control over our support raising plans and turning them over to God. He had started to realize this even before we headed to church Sunday morning, but it was nice to have that realization of the absolute necessity for daily submission to Christ reaffirmed.
For me, I had been dealing with fear and worry that week. Fear that something terrible would happen to my children, that God would take one of them from me. I don’t usually deal with that fear, but over the last two weeks I had felt God prodding my heart. “You need to put your husband and your children in my hands.” He’s told me this before, and I did it before. Before Emma. . . Whenever he’s asked that of me after Emma, I have balked. “But God,” I want to say, “Look what happened last time. You held Emma in your hands, and you took her from me.” The question I feel he continues to ask me is: “Do you trust me?” It’s not that I believe my children aren’t safe in God’s hands. It’s not that I believe that God doesn’t know what is best for them or that he can’t give them more than I can. In fact, I know they are already in his hands, and my saying so doesn’t change that fact. But I still feel that God wants an attitude of submission in me, an acceptance of his trustworthiness.
I’ve also been dealing with some worry lately. Worry that when I go over to Germany, away from my support system and surrounded by the unknown, that I will deal with depression again. I don’t want to return to that place of struggle, and yet I know that I have no guarantee that I won’t. I know that worry isn’t helping anything, and so I am trying to be prepared, while at the same time releasing the worry and accepting God’s peace. I know that whatever he asks of me, even if it does involve suffering, I will endure through him.
The verse that God brought to mind this week as I processed these emotions and thoughts was 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of self-control.” Fear does not come from God. Instead, he makes these other three qualities available to us. Power, his power, allows us to endure suffering. Love motivates us to make the right choices for ourselves and for others. Self-control (or as the KJV translates it – a sound mind), is the very opposite of emotional instability, and leads to rational choices.
I do believe I was able to get somewhere as I poured my heart out to God and pondered this verse. I know I have many more chances to submit ahead, and much more to learn. But my experience thus far has taught me that with each submission comes greater freedom and joy.
“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” 2 Timothy 1:8-9a