My Quiet Place of Strength

In God’s hand, a yielded weakness has greater power than an unyielded strength.

Because of my daily struggle with ME/CFS, I often live out my life in baby steps. Take tonight’s taco dinner, for example. Yesterday I browned and spiced the meat. This afternoon I prepped the cauliflower to steam for my “rice”. Finally this evening, I will pull it all together to serve buffet-style as a tasty meal for my family. (And they will do the dishes. Bonus!)

Managing a lifestyle around a frequently debilitating health issue requires loads of thought and planning. Absolutely everything I do comes with a trade-off. If I do “A” I cannot count on doing “B”. My life gets plotted and lived out in segments of days rather than just today. What I hope to accomplish tomorrow must get accounted for in today’s activity as well as the day following.

Can you imagine how discouraging and small my life must seem at times?

I’ve thought about this several times lately as our home has become a bedlam of activity. First came the demanding renovations, followed this past week by┬áthe stop-everything-and-pick-up-the-house-and-quickly-vacate mode of open houses and private showings, all while tackling some packing.

Or rather…Brad tackles the packing.

I rest and regenerate between activities.

We’ve discussed this–my beloved and I.

God has given to each of us our strengths and weaknesses–and then He paired us with each other in the most wonderful and remarkable of ways. My husband, thankfully, just happens to have enough energy for the both of us–God’s gift to him (and me!).

The odd thing about strengths and weakness and human behavior is that we tend to do one of two things: 1) evaluate others on their strengths while we evaluate ourselves on our weaknesses, or 2) the other way around.

I tend to view my husband through his assets (probably best for the marriage that way!). I see the energy he brings into the required busyness of renovating, selling and packing a home. And then I see myself on my comfy brown couch. He hustles and bustles. I sit. He takes care of business. I lounge.

Quite the discouraging disparity, don’t you think?

Well, I suppose it would be if God didn’t have a say in the whole thing.

But His word speaks. And, boy!, did it encourage my heart this morning! “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning (repentance) and rest you shall be saved (delivered, set free!); in quietness and in trust shall be your strength‘” (Isaiah 30:15a).

God has greatly used ME/CFS to cause me to “walk humbly before my God.” I literally can place “no confidence in the flesh.” After years of striving against what was happening to my body, I have learned to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, follow Him in quiet trust and rest in His plan to set me free (either on earth or in heaven–she said with a grin!).

This is my “in the pocket” place.

This quiet nook of a restful, trusting heart is my strength–God’s gift to me.

“I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only” (Psalm 71:16).

The Burden of the Lord

I’m just going to come out and admit it: today has not been my day.

As the wife of an associate pastor at a fairly large, but understaffed, church, I often find my calendar overwhelmed by activities–and the upcoming month or two are no exception. In addition, as a woman who is in a relapse with a debilitating disease, I find that I can view these activities as just another thing which demands my husband’s attention yet leaves me home alone…again.

And today was one of those days.

Receiving my weekly update on the bulletin, I balked. Quickly I texted my husband and queried, “Did you realize we have church events three weekends in a row?”

Moments later my phone rang. My sweet husband. He did his best to explain that two weren’t really “events,” but, yes, the two-day worship conference clearly would be quite the affair. He gently recalled to my mind that our pastors truly pray over each and everything we host, while also turning so many opportunities away. And then…he apologetically reminded me that this Saturday our church was hosting a rather large Ladies’ Tea–at which he had to serve, but which I could not even attend.

My heart sank. My eyes teared up. My body plunged into “cope mode.” Essentially, I was undone.

After Josh left for his baseball game, I decided I needed a nice little nap–something I hoped would refresh me enough to address this steamroller sensation. Not so much.

I cranked some worship up on the ole iPhone stereo and stepped into my steam shower. My worship center. My refuge where I pause to pour out the cries of my heart, both praise and pleadings.

I sang along with “Hallelujah Jesus,” and simply felt His presence near. I then sat and started interceding. For my beloved daughter, who leaves today for her dream missions/service trip to Maui. She’s weary from the past couple of weeks, and desperately needs me to hold her in my prayers. For my dear son, who bears the weight that only a junior in high school can feel, while also struggling with a baseball season where he watches more than he plays. For my husband, who already seemed weary before he even left our home this morning. All burdened. And then me.

But as I prayed I remembered how Jesus blasted the attitudes of the Pharisees, who He also referred to as “children of the devil” for “they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matthew 23:4). Yet Jesus said of Himself, “for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

My choice today boiled down to whose burden did I want to carry: the heavy load of the devil or the easy and light burden of my Lord?

My shoulders and mind relaxed. My heart melted. My choice was made.

This is not to say that the next couple of months will float by like silken petals adrift on a summer breeze. Nope. Though rewarding, ministry mixed with family responsibilities often presents hard, hard labor. But allowing God to speak His gentle words across my heart has permitted me to nestle into His goodness and kindness and love for me, even during a steep trek in life.

So let the SAT prep and baseball games continue. Let the church activities and events and retreats come. Let my daughter’s graduation approach. I don’t have to live all these things at once. I simply get to live each day with my Jesus.

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken,” (Psalm 55:22).