How to lose your life–for good

istockphoto © selensergen

istockphoto © selensergen

“My life is OVER!”

How many times have you had that thought? I hope not more than a few times and I hope you were wrong each time.

Drama is good in the movies, in real life not so much.

But I guess each of us knows a moment when we have been devastated by news that seemed to bring our hopes, our plans, our dreams crashing down around our heads. And maybe if you’ve had such a moment, your life as you knew it did in fact come to an end as you were called to sacrifice for the sake of others.

The art of faith is knowing when a crisis is God’s plan and trusting him to bring his goodness to pass through the unexpected, through dire and desperate circumstances.

Gail McWilliams models the godly response and the glorious aftermath when crisis comes. I hope you’ll go and listen to the podcast of our recent visit on Cradle My Heart Radio. Gail chose life for her children even though it cost her eyesight. She gained not only the joys of motherhood, but also a vision and hope. And as Gail says, “Hope always sees.” In circumstances we can’t understand, as Gail so eloquently stated, we have to seek the peace we can’t understand either–God’s peace that comes as we surrender to his direction in our lives.

This is so much easier said than done!

Often, I think, God uses the suffering of shattered expectations to surface character issues that need his refining touch (see Romans 5:3-5). That’s been the case for me as I’ve grown into the role of co-guardian for Brian, my brother-in-law who has Down’s syndrome. It’s been a steep learning curve as I’ve had to face the condition of my heart toward those who have a different level of functioning in life than my own.

I tell myself God knows best. I pray to have the love necessary to help Brian grieve the loss of other family members he relied on for so long.

I face the challenge to adjust to daily responsibilities when I have just begun embracing the freedom of the empty nest and I hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:25: Whoever loses his life will find it.

And I surrender.

As I decide to lose my plans and find God’s purpose in this for both of us and for my incomparable husband, Bruce who has the lion’s share of the caregiving responsibilities, I begin to find that sometimes losing my life simply means doing some good work God has in mind for me to do. If I’m unwilling to do that, I’ve already lost the ultimate test and I’ll never find meaning, purpose, joy in any other pursuit.

One especially trying day unfolded for us at church recently. I was hoping for a few sweet moments of worship at the end of a dry week of work and worry. Brian wanted my attention–and right in the middle of the prayers during the service.

“Lord, help us!” I prayed–more out of self-pity for my momentary loss of the privacy of my thoughts than anything else.

And the still small voice of the Holy Spirit granted me to see that God always adjusts to my needs and my circumstances! And he is always willing to hear my prayers and welcome my needs, even though he’s much much smarter and of course functioning at the height of intellectual excellence.

Whatever you’re facing, God’s got this. When you and I seek to follow and trust and do his will, he says he’s going to see it through. He’s going to see you through.

Even more, as we surrender our will, we gain our purpose. Jesus fits us for good works–work that he completes, and work he promises to repay in the future whatever it appears to have cost us in the here and now (Matthew 16:27).

What have you had to surrender? Plans–or something more tangible? How is God seeing you through? What hidden blessings (like the insight I gained on God’s character) have you found?

 

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