Becoming a Christian isn’t an Event it’s a Process. Hopefully, our Walk is not 40 years of circling the same mountain. We’re on a journey. We’re heading to heaven and trying to bring as many others with us as we can, so we share our testimonies along the way.
Blessings & Burdens
Why am I going through this? Why are you allowing all the evil and suffering that I see? Why aren’t you giving me the desires of my heart, if you truly love me?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus warned us that this life would be difficult at times. Still, even true believers who genuinely love the Lord find themselves asking these types of questions.
There are many reasons why any individual believer may be living in a season of trials. Sometimes we are merely experiencing the results of our actions because even though God forgives, He doesn’t always protect us from the earthly consequences of our sin. Other times God is trying to teach or refine us. God may be using our trial for the benefit of someone else, perhaps someone we don’t even know and in a way that will remain a mystery to us until it is eventually revealed in Heaven.
God has blessed me in countless ways, but He has also asked me to endure great challenges. Raised in a troubled home, in a family of lost and broken people, the two people I considered my refuge went to be with the Lord when I was nine years old, leaving me feeling deserted and in continual anxiety. I grew up believing that I had to always be on guard because you never knew where or when the next blow, either physical abuse or emotional turmoil, would come. I retreated into drugs around the age of ten, to try and dull the constant worry and fell prey to a pedophile who supplied the narcotics as He added more devasting abuses that wounded me to my core. My history should have made me just another tragic statistic, but God sent a beautiful Christian friend to me when I was 15, who reintroduced me to the God I knew as a small child. God gave her the exact right words at the exact right moment, and I walked away from self-destruction. God erased all drugs from my life, not through any effort of my own, I have remained drug-free, for 43 years.
Any sociologist would tell you my childhood should have resulted in an inability to sustain successful relationships and in no way prepared me to be a nurturing mother. But God, one of my favorite phrases in Scripture, intended a different life for me and had given me a husband who sincerely loves me and truly loves the Lord. Our marriage which is in its 35th year has been a source of abundant joy but has had significant challenges and times of tremendous sorrow and pain. God blessed us with four beautiful sons and allowed us to create the home I always dreamed of living in. I understood from the beginning, these were God’s children, as their caregiver God provide me with all the skills I needed to be the mother they needed. I believe our sons would say they had great parents and always felt cared for and loved. Perhaps the most hope-giving part of my testimony is that people who have met me in the last 30 years assume I was raised in a loving Christian home and went to Bible College, never experiencing the darker sides of life. God transformed me, leaving no trace of my former self. However, He still asked us to endure many challenging trials in our marriage and as parents. Our second son, James had many serious health issues from the age of two months. God took our third son home when he was only a few days old. What a comfort to know Jonathan is safe and happy in heaven.
Today, James is strong and healthy, married to a young woman who loves the Lord and who is breathtakingly beautiful, both inside and out. He chose to become a registered nurse and works in the emergency department of a hospital; I think in part because James knows first-hand how much difference a dedicated nurse can make. Our son wears a ‘God’s Got This’ band on his wrist, and I believe seeing that must be a comforting reminder for some of his patients and an excellent way of sowing seeds to those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Our youngest son, Mike lives with the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD has not kept him from becoming a wonderful young man who is very loving and kind and most importantly, who knows God is real and chose, on his own, to be baptized, making the outward declaration that Jesus is his personal Lord and Savior.
Our firstborn, Josh is a gifted artist who always knew he wanted to ‘make movies.’ We had found a summer program for ASD kids that gave them an opportunity to experience aspects of filmmaking. Many people living with ASD have great difficulties with communication, and this program’s purpose was to help them develop skills that could be a creative and fun way of expressing themselves. We asked Josh to go ‘check out’ the program since he had the film degree. Josh volunteered while Mike participated. The program did not turn out to be a good fit for Mike, but they hired Josh as an instructor. The small summer program for kids became a school for ASD adults teaching them the skills which will allow the graduates to secure real and meaningful work in the film industry. The school eventually created an in-house production company that employs many of the graduates and is exceptionally successful. For the ASD community who has often been given minimal prospects for a real career, this school was indeed a Godsend. For Josh, it is a true calling. He loves his work and knows he is changing lives. He loves the Lord and is currently exploring leading a first step Bible study for non-believers. A place for those who would never consider walking into a church. As they have grown up in a post-Christian culture, most of his peers have rejected what they think Christianity is but have never encountered the real Jesus.
Josh is happily married to an amazing young woman who adores him and who, like James’ wife, has become not just a daughter-in-law, but also a daughter-in-love.
God has asked me to persevere through many personal health challenges, both physical and mental. God has also blessed me with a teaching ministry that has stretched me, challenged me, sustained me, frustrated me, taught me and brought me closer to God than I believed possible.
Looking back, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the burdens from the blessings. Beauty for ashes, God works all things together for good for those love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Laying the Burdens Down
Jesus is faithful to the promise He made in Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God has shown me the secret to living in the protection of that promise. It has become the ultimate answer to all my questions about the troubles in this life. Strangely, it turned out that the ‘answer’ was, in fact, a question.
“Do you trust Me?” the Father asks us.
The moment I could truthfully answer ‘YES’ to that question was the day I was set free. I had been saved for almost 40 years, but I was still in bondage, a captive of my circumstances or worse of my fears of some future trouble, that the enemy tried to convince me was just around the corner. In many ways, I was still that little girl who had to always be on guard because you never know where or when the next blow will come. Trusting God doesn’t mean that you believe He will make everything okay, but that you understand everything is in His hands, serves His purpose, and that makes it, no matter how hard to endure, worth the struggle and ultimately better than okay.
When my circumstances are hard, and the enemy tries to fill my heart with worry and fear, the Father asks, “Do you trust Me?” When I see the injustice, evil and hatred in this world, and wonder why God allows them, the Father asks, “Do you trust Me?” When the desires of my heart seem impossible the Father asks, “Do you trust Me?”
In the strength of His overwhelming, unrelenting, inexhaustible love and grace, I can confidently answer – “YES LORD! I trust you, and your grace is sufficient for me.”
READ: Matthew 6:25-34 Romans 8:38-39 Philippians 4:8-13