Welcome to Saturday Share!
The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus. It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line. If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.
I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives. Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:
He Became Our All in All
by Bettie Gilbert
Thirty-two years ago, our family followed God’s leading and moved across the country. We picked up stakes, and together with our young children, left the familiar behind. What we could not see, were the ways that God would use that move to shatter all of our pre-conceived notions of what Christianity and the Ministry looked like. We had so many lessons to learn. . .
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3-4 NIV
The month before we moved, a friend gave us those verses from Isaiah. And I chose to cling to the promises that HE would sustain us through every step of the uncertainty. And He did! But in the process, my husband suffered through a deep depression as the Lord gradually loosened our hold on a ministry dream that had too much of our own selves written all over it. When my husband shared words that I had spoken to him with his counselor, the counselor wondered how I could have such insight. I only knew that God was carrying us, and there was nowhere to go except to Him.
HE became our only answer.
When we weren’t sure our faith would survive intact, God held onto us, and He led us back to our Midwestern roots. But the trials were not finished. Through the next 10 years, He shook up every notion of what we thought our days should look like. He drew us out of ourselves and brought us into the solid ground of His merciful sustaining grace. We tasted what it felt like to have a failed ministry, a failed business, and no home of our own.
HE became our only home.
As our children walked with us through those moves, they watched what we went through. And in the process, they each faced their own kind of testing. One felt the weight of fear and anxiety, one felt the tug of worldliness and ease, and the other felt the sting of not measuring up to the standards of a legalistic church. I heard myself crying out to God.
Oh Lord! Why would you allow our children to suffer so, simply because they were made to walk through the lessons that we, their parents, had to learn?
How will they ever overcome these trials that were the results of our own mistakes?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV
What a faithful Lord! How merciful are His judgments, beyond tracing out! God has knit together the shape and form of our children, just as He has shaped and formed our own beings. And what was for our benefit will be for their benefit also, because of His great grace. The very trials they face are the very places where God brought us into intimate touch with His mercy. It is the way of intercession.
He allows us to bear each other’s burdens for a reason. It is in the bearing that we are covered by His wings. Under His wings we find refuge, and even when we cannot see it at the moment, He is drawing our children under His wings, as we pray for those trials to be redeemed by the power of His blood. As I prayed and watched God move, my children found their own place of refuge under His wings.
But it was in the remembering of those lonely seasons that my heart longed for other Mamas whose hearts now ask the same questions concerning their own children. Would there be a place to connect and share those burdens? Could we ever know that we are not alone in bearing those burdens to Jesus? How could we share our heavy hearts together?
Jesus heard those longings, and by a roundabout journey, He connected me with a beautiful prodigal returned, one whose own Mother had prayed for her through the long years of testing and wandering also. As she and I began to share our hearts, we realized that the Lord had given us each a kindred spirit and a longing for both the lost ones struggling and their Mamas praying over their return. It has been such a joy to be part of the team gathered at the website that my friend Anna began, BelovedProdigal.com, and to join in praying and sharing with others whose hearts are also longing for the return of wandering loved ones.
Are you in a place of lonely praying now? Do you find yourself looking back with sadness at the lessons you or your children have had to walk through? Does it feel that redemption of those times may never come? Listen to these words that Jesus spoke to us:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
As we offer back to Him those very trials and tribulations, He will redeem each one. We may not see how, we may not know when, but He will work things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)
HE has become our only purpose.
Bettie Gilbert can be found in a small town in rural Southeast Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband of 39 years. You can find her blogging at BettieGsraseasons.com where she is seeking to be transparent with the journey that God has her traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Osteoporosis. She is also excited to be part of the team sharing words over at BelovedProdigal.com joining in as the Lord calls the lost ones back to His heart.