“I want my life back.”
Chronic pain steals your life. It takes your health, your daily life, your family time, your hobbies, your social life, your ministries. And sometimes it takes your job and even your home. Who could blame a person for saying she wants her life back?
Honestly, I felt I was right in the center of God’s will when my whole world stopped. I was nearly finished raising my family. Our youngest was 15. As a home-schooling mom, I had established a homeschool co-op that had grown from 3 to 50 families. I had 25 years of children’s ministry under my belt, and my husband was the senior pastor at our church. Though we found ourselves overly busy, too tired, and looking for a way to retire and slow down, we had “the life.”
As I write, I’m reminded of the parable in Luke 12 of the wealthy farmer who said, “I will build more barns. Then I will sit back and relax.” There are just too many “I will, I did” phrases in the above paragraph; it rubs my heart and soul the wrong way.
This sticks in me because, you see, my life is not my own.
It belongs to God to do with as He pleases.
I wonder now, how much was I really depending on God in those “good” times? After losing everything, we learned we hadn’t really been trusting God until we had nothing to lean on BUT HIM.
The Apostle Paul knew how to trust God for everything, how to be content with much or little. (Philippians 4:11-12) He considered the things in this life as garbage, compared to knowing Christ. (Philippians 3:7-11) Garbage, really?
In truth, he is so right. Anything we gain or lose in this world is temporary as Paul explains, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) He was beaten and left for dead, thrown into prison, shipwrecked, stranded at sea, and more. (2 Corinthians 11:16-33)
Through every trial, Paul’s life was surrendered to God.
Through my own suffering, I am learning to surrender my life to God, too.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life?” (Mark 8:34-37)
As I learn to manage chronic pain, I have found living for Him is far better than anything I’ve ever had here on earth.
I thank Him for 50 years of healthy life.
Time to love and raise four beautiful children.
Joy in ministry beyond what I had hoped.
Even in my suffering, He has drawn me to Himself like never before. I “didn’t have time” to cling to Him before. But now… I have all the time in the world. I spend hours every day studying His Word and getting to know Him more.
The perspective I’ve gained is unexplainable, but in return for the loss of my “good life,” He has given me a New Life. A life in which He and I walk hand-in-hand together. A life in which I am writing, blogging, and encouraging others. Honestly, I don’t want my old life back.
My goal is to finish the race of following Jesus with my life very well; to hear those wonderful words at the finish line, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) I know God is directing me to new things. He is in control. I am His. Just as Paul said in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
In the midst of his suffering, Paul displayed conviction of spirit
courage of heart
composure of mind
and constancy of purpose.
Pastor and ministry leader, James Ryle, encourages us with these words regarding Paul’s embrace of a surrendered life, “My friend, in what ways can you benefit by Paul’s example as you face your own challenges in today’s world? How might his words find a place in your life, and embolden you to rise in a new resolve of faithfulness — even if it’s against all odds?”
(The Four Marks of the Immovable Man, Rylisms Devotion)
Surrender Day 15
Christ, the Only One Worthy to pay the punishment for our sin, died to give us eternal life. In Him, we find access to rich communion with the God of the Universe!
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