It was 9:00. I had thirty minutes to run to the store. Thirty minutes to get the essentials. Thirty minutes before my man left for a trip into St. Louis. Thirty minutes before God would teach me something.
So my husband’s trip…it wasn’t just any trip. A trip to his first official meeting with potential supporters of a ministry he is starting up. My husband is passionate about discipling men and he has recently been appointed Area Director for Man in the Mirror in the St. Louis area. Man in the Mirror equips churches to disciple men and also actively disciples men. This is his dream ministry job. He just came back from a week long training and had appointments to meet with people this week. This was his first one.
It was important.
It represented our future and what God is doing in our lives. We are going to be financially dependent on supporters…entering a new season of being missionaries in our own region.
Feeling excited about this trip and elated that I was able to run to the store…alone…I came back into the house refreshed and ready for the day.
Ruthie met me at the door to urgently announce that Papa needed me upstairs right away. When my four year old speaks seriously…I know it is serious. Without finishing the transporting of groceries from the car I made a hesitant ascent upstairs. There was too much silence after each creek of the 100 year old stairs. Something had happened.
My husband, the calm one, seemed a bit too hurried. He asked me to iron for him. As I ironed, he told me that an elderly neighbor had just asked for help. His wife had just fallen down and was unable to get back up. The neighbor had driven over to the hospital to get a wheelchair. Darrell was needed to help get her in the chair and then into the car when he got back from the hospital.
So we needed to wait for him to get back with the wheelchair. Would it be 10 minutes or 30? We didn’t know. It was 9:35.
He had planned on leaving at 9:30 to give him 2 full hours to get downtown on time at 11:30. He had to have at least one and a half hours without traffic. Anything less than that would mean cancelling. The men he was meeting with only had their lunch time to meet and had meetings lined up afterward.
My mind raced as my hand raced the iron over his pants.
I tried to think of ways out. Wasn’t there another neighbor? (No…all those home shouldn’t be asked as they were elderly as well.) Wasn’t the ministry meeting and a commitment to meet important too? (Yes, but not as important as someone in pain or immediate danger.) Couldn’t he say no? (Yes, but the story of the good Samaritan came to mind. And it just didn’t seem right for someone going to a ministry meeting to say “Sorry–I have to go to a ministry meeting right now, I can’t minister to you.”)
The rise of an internal burning struggle ended almost as quickly as it began. There was no question…my husband had to help. It was 9:40.
So we continued getting him ready to walk out the door. I ran to the gas station to fill his tank with gas so he wouldn’t have to stop. He told me his phone wasn’t charging so he asked me to find some spare change. I never asked why but I assume he was going to use it for a phone booth if he needed to make a call to cancel along the way. Do phone booths even exist anymore?
9:50…neighbor still not back with wheelchair.
All the while…groceries still in the car.
As I scraped up spare change, I knew I needed to counsel my husband not to go. It just felt like we were fighting too hard to make this happen. As he came up the stairs he asked for my thoughts. I told him that he needed to cancel the meeting. I felt we were fighting against the way God was allowing things to play out.
It was at that moment that I realized the woman was still laying on the floor…perhaps ALONE.
At 9:55 we quit preparing for the meeting and we rushed to the aid of this woman. Each step toward helping this woman…drew me closer to the heart of God and gave me peace.
The laying down of the fight for my plans and aligning myself with His brought peace to my heart.
Do you feel peace as you let go of your plans? That first initial step toward aligning myself with his plans for the day was hard. I could feel the struggle inside dissipate. It was almost painful. The tearing away of our plans. But as we let go of working out our own plan externally (as we stopped scraping up change and gave up physically trying to make this trip happen), the peace became greater internally. And as I put my hand on her arm and prayed and saw her shake with overwhelming sadness I was overflowing with His peace about where he asked us to be at that moment.
She had her own set of plans and needs for the future too. Things are as unsure as ever for her and her husband now. I felt connected because of that. Once she was in the car, she asked me to gently move her leg for her so that she could be more comfortable. A neighbor, dependent on me for comfort. Just a moving of the leg for her.
Aren’t we all in need like that?
Sometimes it is more visible than other times. Whether it is a moving of the leg, starting a ministry or the supporting of a ministry. What more is there to do in this life than to comfort others in their time of need. To be the Lord’s hands and feet as he providentially cares for his people.
Each moment whether it is big or small, noticed or unnoticed is God’s grace and providential care. Even the moments in which we feel things are out of control.
I’ve been meditating on the issue of trusting God lately by reading through Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. I’m right smack in the midst of asking myself, daily, if I believe and trust the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. If I believe, do I live my life like it?
This event, while it may seem small and maybe even a no-brainer for some, was a lesson for me. A lesson for me to practice laying down my plans and peacefully and humbly accepting what the Lord had allowed for that day. So that He might accomplish HIS ministry. Yesterday HIS ministry wasn’t for my husband to have a ministry meeting in St. Louis. It was to have a ministry meeting down the street. Us putting hands on a body and moving it. Praying. Yesterday the Lord picked a woman off of the floor and got her to the hospital. Do I trust Him to provide for me?
In his book Bridges comforts me in the midst of my daily lessons on trust.
There were two verses that he pointed to to show that there is no conflict between saying “I will not be afraid” and then also asking God to deliver us from our fears. David recognized it was his responsibility to choose to trust God (based on His word and what He has done in our lives), but also that he was dependent upon the Lord for the ability to do it. Here are the verses: Ps 56:4–“In God I trust; I will not be afraid.” and Ps 34:4–“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” This helped me to see that it is natural for us in our flesh to be afraid and to even not have it in ours own flesh to have all the strength we need. But that the Lord will provide strength to continue to trust in Him even when we don’t feel we have it in us. All of the strength to trust we need can be taken from Him.
This seems so similar to the man who brought his boy to Jesus for healing from demon possession.
“21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:21-29).
How many IFs do I place on God? IF He can do this…IF He can do that.
All things are possible for the one who believes.
The fears and anxiety I can feel about the future can only be driven out by prayer and a humble trust and submission to His plans.
I trust…help me to trust!
Photo by Amy Jung