"You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from the remotest parts, And said to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you, Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." For I am the Lord you God who upholds your right hand, who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41: 9-10, 13
Hi, My friends,
I am back from my trip to England and had such a wonderful time of making memories with my girls. I didn't take a computer or do anything except just dote on them. This is unusual for me as our ministry keeps us quite busy all the time. But I am especially thankful we had the opportunity to do this as life seems to swirling into changes so much with the bad economy that I may be grounded for a while.
As we were riding the subways, we noted the headlines on all of the newspapers--"France requests 300 billion dollar rescue fund for Europe." "English Market falls 15%" "Land prices rushing downward." so we knew that things continued to happen as we traveled. It made us all the more careful to enjoy each other and each moment.
As I have been praying about all of this trouble, I know from experience that my first reaction could be fear or panic. A close friend called and said her husband lost his job. Joel, our wonderful 22 year old, finally received a letter from the Berklee School of music, (which he had auditioned for last April--thanks for all of you who prayed for him) and to his great joy, he was accepted as a student. But now, we found out there will not be scholarships and there is question as to whether he will be able to get a student loan. (If any of you have an knowledge or ideas in these areas, I would appreciate it!) With 3 in college at this time, we wonder how it will all turn out. And then there are our conferences. Our whole staff and ministry depends on having women attend our mom's conferences as we have to make pretty significant commitments to the hotels which could put us under as a ministry if we don't reach our quotas. So, we have our own issues and so do so many of you. And so, after hearing from so many, I know there are countless ways to be affected by the economy failures.
Yet, in all generations, when human beings turn their heart away from God and do not build godly character and act with integrity, when foundations are corrupted to begin with and leaders are materialistic and grasping, there have always been chaotic consequences for nations and in regards to the history of the whole world. We have had a string of godless leaders and authorities who have authority to make decisions that will affect us. We could and probably should have all known that it was coming. Joy and I have been reading Rilla of Ingleside about World War I and it is so interesting to see the sequence of events from the beginning of the book where the heroine, Rilla, has a youthful, immature, carefree life and through the progression of the war, must grow up, accept difficulties and choose mature and responsible character in order to play her part in the War and in her family. It is a sweet story, reflective of difficult times and how it effects families.
As I was praying about all of this, I remembered one of the first times I felt "panic" about the difficult circumstances of my life. I was a young missionary living in Poland illegally and there had been lots of tension between the Polish workers and the Russians who controlled the country. People had begun to riot and rebel and the Russian tanks began to roll into Warsaw where we lived. Many of the streets were lined with soldiers and the threat of war was in the paper and on the news every day. My colleagues and I gathered around a small radio attempting to get the Voice of America which if we were careful to turn the knob just right, would bring us news from the free countries so that we could find out if war was immanent or not, as all we could get on our tv's and radio was propaganda.
I remembered thinking, "What am I doing over here in a time of war? I am not sure if I am ready to die in this conflict just now." We had been ministering in Hungry and touched the bullet holes in apartment buildings of people we had worked with where a similar revolt had caused the loss of hundreds of lives.
It was one of the first times, I remember coming across this passage in Isaiah. "You are my servant, do not fear for I am with you. Do not be anxious for I am your God. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I camped on that verse. I pondered it. I prayed it. I resolved that I would stand on it emotionally and spiritually. And the Lord was faithful and we came through the conflict with Him holding our hand.
There have been so many other times and seasons. Yet, I have a pattern of remembrance now. He has been faithful through all the seasons and hard times. Some of our best memories as a family were made during the hard times. It built our character. We learned not to depend as much on circumstances and things to bring security and happiness. Our children learned the value of work and prayer.
God is still with us. He still loves us. He will still be abundantly faithful. Yet, there is more. I think that women are especially designed and equipped by God to dig down deep and bring beauty, faith, peace and hope to nations. A woman is at her best when she is creating life from the richness of her soul. I think that Moms will be the true heroes who will be the lighters of light when shadows threaten to overtake. They weave peace and love in homes where burdens are weighing on the shoulders of our husbands. They sing songs of faith in the midst of life's calamity. They can model a child-like faith and rest in God when they live in the Sabbath rest of His provision even when physical provision is scant.
I was talking with a friend who was experiencing a great deal of difficulty. Her 4th of 5 children was experiencing severe health issues that required travel to another state for consultation. Her mother was struggling with her Father's new onset Alzheimer's, and her husband had not been able to make payroll for his employees for his small company. I asked her how she was holding up. Her reply stuck with me. "I have realized that I am the determining factor in how we go through these trials. I am the anchor to keep our ship from drifting. I understand my role as a mom so clearly now--that how I walk with God and how I respond and how I choose to live will to a great degree determine everyone else's ability to cope well. So, I am choosing to be strong."
It was a beautiful picture of the role of a woman-- a helpmeet, a civilizer, a life-giver, a lover, a teacher.
As the girls and I drove from Nashville home a couple of days ago, I decided to make some resolutions for this time. For me a resolution is a determined commitment as an act of my will to decide how I will behave and how I will obey the Lord. It doesn't mean that my resolve won't be tested, but it does give me a plan for how I will live and it helps me to address, ahead of time, those areas that could be problematic. It also helps me fight against Satan's desire to tempt me to despair or to not believe in God's goodness.
I resolved that I would not allow my heart or mind to go down the road of fear--that I would reject any thoughts of fear by choosing to worship and focus on God's wonderful faithfulness and trustworthy character.
I resolved that I would be a strong pillar of faith for Clay in the midst of so much that he has to hold together. Not to whine or complain or falter unnecessarily in the midst of his hard work and his commitment to figure out how to keep supporting our family. He needs me to "smile at the future--because of who is in control of my future."
I resolved that I would make this time a blessed time of great memories---warm soups, candlelight, great stories of other heroes in other times, cards of encouragement to friends who needed it; phone calls and phone prayers with my boys who need support and encouragement in the midst of their financial difficulties; email Bible studies and life-giving words to all who the Lord brings to mind; simple times spent in eternal areas that will minister to the hearts or my precious family and friends.
I resolved to think of new ways that Sarah and Joy and I may serve others in the midst of these days. As we plan to be God's hands and voice and words, it gives us a way to be about God's business and to perceive the strategic role Christians can play in the lives of others during this time.
By allowing God to define my vision for the trials ahead, I have a road-map to walk with to guide my steps, to guard my attitudes and to inform my decision of will--as I walk in the power of His Spirit and investing in the word and seeking to make time to pray, I have been energized and excited to know that I have something I can do to help. I have ways to give hope and opportunities to bring life. The Lord has renewed me in my heart and made me excited to start living according to some of my plans. I already know that these years will be my opportunity to show what my heart is really like--that I really do love and believe that God will hold my hand and show me His ways. That I have this day to invest in eternity by living it for Him.
May He grant each of you grace in the midst of it all. I will be praying for you.
I think that you sweet moms can also be the determining factor in our country, to bring courage to bear as we wait on God and follow His ways. Many blessings and lots of love coming from His heart to all of you sweet women!
Last year I studied the first part of Isaiah. The nation found themselves in the midst of chaos after a string of bad and ungodly kings and as a result were being humbled as they were attacked by Babylon. In Isaiah 40-45, I found very encouraging words which so underlined God's presence, redemption, goodness, love, strength and so on. Maybe it will encourage you. The nougat is that we who wait on Him will be blessed.