“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'”
This has been my “go to” passage for many years. If I’m asked to speak somewhere new, it’s usually from Isaiah 43 because I believe it portrays the love of God beautifully. Over the last few years as I have experienced tragedy, significant loss and change, I have clung to the promise of God’s faithfulness. My motto is: God is good. He can be trusted…even when it doesn’t make sense.
God has proven himself faithful time and time again in my life. But I like to be in control. I like to know the outcome ahead of time. The only kind of spontaneity that I like is if I know ahead of time that I need to be spontaneous. Planned spontaneity. Ha! So, needing to resign from full time ministry was never my plan. I had been in ministry longer than I had been a wife or a mom. Outside of my identity in Christ, it was who I was. I loved being in ministry within the church and in the community. I never dreamed of doing anything else.
Having a chronic illness can be described as having a set amount of energy per day. The amount may be greater on a “good” day (little to no pain). And, it can be significantly less during the days of a flare up. Being two years and two months into living with the effects of the Zika Virus and West Nile Virus, I can determine with fair accuracy how much I can accomplish each day. I’ve also learned what merits my energy and what’s a waste.
Ten months ago I mentioned to my husband that I was afraid I would wake up one day, our boys would be in high school and I had missed it all. On good days, I had the energy for ministry OR for my family but not both. I had to make a choice that I didn’t want to make. Be a stay at home mom? Are you kidding? Those ladies are superheroes. They are kind, compassionate, patient. They enjoy being home. They can care for a home. I am so inadequate. We made the decision that I would resign from ministry so that I could focus on my health and our family. With that decision made, we would need to move. I didn’t think we would ever leave the Lubbock area once we finally moved there. I had prayed for ten years that we could live close to my family.
We had the opportunity to move to my in-laws’ ranch. It’s always been a special place for us. I would be able to rest and our livelihood wouldn’t depend on me working. This opportunity was truly a gift. However, in my heart and in my soul, I left ministry and Lubbock, kicking and screaming. Why was I once again experiencing such devastating loss? Nine days before we moved, my father-in-law passed away. Seriously?
We’ve been on the ranch for two months now and I do love it. I love the relationship that I have with my mother-in-law. I love the sunsets (to see the sunrises means I’d have to wake up early). I love the peace of this place. I love that my dog’s tail wags higher here. I love that my boys are happy. I love that my husband can drive less than an hour to fly fish. But I miss the old me. I miss the me that had a mom I talked to several times a day. I miss the me who had sisters whose lives were easy and carefree. I miss teenagers. I miss being on staff at a church. I miss going 90 to nothing and not paying for it the next day. I miss life without physical pain and limitations.
A friend of mine blogged on some of Isaiah 43 earlier today. It wasn’t the part that I so often preached. But it’s later in the chapter when God is encouraging his people to come home. He’s telling them that it’s safe to come home. He’s reminding them of his faithfulness.
18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
I needed to read those two verses. “Do you not perceive it?” Do you not get it? I think I’ve been kicking and screaming and forgetting that God is making a way for us to come home as well. Yes, it’s ok to grieve the former things. But, I cannot miss the new thing God is doing. None of this was a part of my plan and completely out of my control. But I sure don’t want to miss the new thing. God is good. He can be trusted…even when it doesn’t make sense.
Learning to enjoy the new,