As a young christian i remember hearing stories of people having total transformations of their life… from a Surgeon at a large hospital, to a missionary teaching sanitation and good health practices in the bush country of Africa. Or of the person with a higher education who turned their life to working in the inner city with kids, offering mentoring and leadership development…. Not using the education they worked so diligently to earn. These were transformations that went against the grain of what we knew was the correct direction to go…. Everything in life said to succeed, earn more, be more powerful, more responsible, more involved, more influential, more profitable, and climb that ladder of whatever career you are in…
These are stories of making what seems like illogical choices in life that change the course of the future forever. They stepped back from what was percieved as their full potential. That surgeon would not pick up a scalpel again, but instead his tools included mosquito netting and hand sanitizer. The mechanical engineer gave up the blueprints, and measurement of stress points, for engineering souls. Sensing a calling, and following what seems to be the plan God has called them to is something I do understand – following God is indeed a perplexing and yet wondrous with possibility. There seemed to be something unique, special, and yet fearfully challenging about giving up a life
Reflecting back I have watched this life transform through many different directions…. a child and student to an adult and student, young working person, college again in my 30s and early 40s, training hard for a life of health care management, thrilled by the education, but sickened by the toxic state of health care, health care politics, and the viciousness of a world of people who are supposed to be dedicated to healing, and health. Unwanted unemployment, striving for scraps, and finally discovering that freedom from fear when I trust the Lord for everything.
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
One day, in the midst of a total melt down, gripped with fear, and anxiety over the many denials, and the many closed doors I sat down with my bible to cry, to pray, to just hear something i could hang on to. And there it was… Psalm 46:10 jumped from the page to say “Cease Striving” – stop trying to figure this out Barb, just lean in and rest… rest and trust. No that does not mean you should do nothing – do what needs to be done, but trust the outcome to God, and leave it there.. But it was not to just cease striving, there was another level of thought – “know that I am God.” – Recognize the very present place God has in your life… whether you are on the mountain top shouting for joy, or you are on the very floor of the valley floor, feeling trampled lower than ever. He changes not – he is still God, sovereign, holy, loving and our father, my father.
As that verse burned deep in my soul things began to change something deep inside… my fretting and worry was yielding to peace, and wrestling and stressing was melting into resting in the very character of a good and loving God. And as that verse burned deep in my husband’s soul we watched as God brought the needed funds for our bills to be paid, our mortgage to be paid, and most recently He made a way for us to buy a vehicle when our 13 year old Pontiac bit the dust.
This life is so drastically different in some ways than it was just 4 years ago…. It is a life that looks so much more challenging to some people. And in the absence of fear of the road God has carved us to walk in it feels like the christians around us think we are either crazy, or they just cant wrap their brains around this desperate living by faith. On sundays we rub shoulders with people who love Jesus as much as we do, but they are comfortable, and have not known the fire of adversity – whether it is financial decline, health failure or an emotional bump in the road. Living in crisis changes our perspective, our ability to cope, our ability to survive major changes. But for those who have not experienced this, it is a foreign, and feared place to be. And sometimes it feels like that fear of our situation translates to a fearful apprehension of us.
If i can start to make sense of my thoughts on this blog post, I would like to say that this new life is indeed much more rewarding, because there is a newer depth to our faith, and our trust of God that would have never happened had our bank accounts been deep pockets to draw upon, and had our jobs not have gone away.
We have learned to know that our identity is not in what we do for a living, or how much money is in our bank account. It is in the deep and wide love of God, knowing that we are children of the most high god. The bible reminds us that we are valued, loved, treasured, and chosen people… We have our identity in Christ, and it is only as an overflow of knowing who we are that we can begin to impact our world. But that impact takes boldness, courage, trust and faith… and that old traveling companion Fear must go away.
This journey to heaven has no room for the fear that limits the capacity.