This summer, I have seen God work in my own heart and in the hearts of those around me. It has been amazing. Truly, He has shown up! And truly, it has all been despite of me.
Here’s my must-not-forget lesson from this season of 2017: God’s not working because of me. He’s working despite of me.
Unfortunately, the “despite of me” all starts with some pretty ugly things. Things in me. Normally, I’d spare the details. But, in order to give you a good picture of the context of how God has worked in and around me, I will openly admit: I have a tendency to completely unravel at times.
For instance, I literally went crazy this summer. Like, to the crazy place I’d never been to before. It sounds like a good laugh, but hear me clearly—it wasn’t laughable.
This season brings so much activity to our family of seven. As the Hoos wife and mom, my role is to give as much support as I possibly can to my husband’s itinerary for the months of May, June, July, and August. He has work and he has things that he has committed himself and our family to. My job is also to schedule the family calendar, to organize the plans (transportation, timing, funds) for all the events that will be taking place, and to basically, attempt to keep the inevitable chaos to a minimum. There are games, chores, days at the office, gardens, youth trips, mowing, appointments, get- togethers . . . all of these things on top of the regular everyday of life.
Disclaimer: I’m not voicing complaint—if I were, I know there’d be a number of people voicing right along with me (and I’m not here to start family riots!) I know there are so very many of us who can relate to the absolutely-undoable yet it’s-sometimes-so-enjoyable summer schedule.
But if I were completely honest, I think it almost did me in this time. Call it my aging mind and body. Call it my weakness. Call it whatever you want, I confess it drove me to C.R.A.Z.Y.
It was insane. There were a couple of days where I literally cried and wanted to be by myself for just a few hours. I’m good at hosting my own pity parties. (I know, this kind of stuff is typically reserved for women’s books and small group gatherings but here we are on the world wide web literally letting it all out.)
In those moments and the many others were confusion, unsettledness, and yes, even anger. What the heck were we doing? How was God supposed to work in this chaos, this mess? I felt like I was holding on to a tiny thread attached to Him, one that had unraveled at the very choices we had made to leave out all of the margin in our life for this season. I doubted that He could work mightily in our hearts.
He was there. He was present.
There were sermons from Nehemiah keeping me focused. Revealing our family’s divide-ness and helping me to be humble and dependent. There were friends to chat and pray with, encouraging me—telling me that, perhaps, going crazy is just what God wanted for me! That maybe this season of what felt like senselessness was exactly what He would use in my life and the life of my family and ministry.
God was moving. Not because of me—not because of anything I was or wasn’t doing, but quite simply–despite of me.
In this season of my summer, I turned—not perfectly, mind you—to my Savior. To the best of my ability, I sought His face.
And He didn’t let me down.
God worked in my heart. I was convicted of wrongful motives, attitudes, and behaviors and consequently freed from them as I repented and believed that, despite of me, Christ had cleansed me. There was a newfound love and dependence upon Him in my life. In the midst of complete chaos.
God worked in my marriage. Summer equals little time for my husband and I to communicate, and to function, really. There were heated arguments, silent treatments and distance created. Humility before God finally came and we had no choice but to humble ourselves before the other. Despite us, God drew us closer to Him and to each other…
God worked in our children’s lives. We began the year with some specific goals in our parenting. Each child has things we’d like to connect with as parents, things to address. We push for balance now-a-days with our (almost) four teenagers—overseeing their hearts and activities is a huge job. Despite us—despite of them—of all of our faults, God has worked! There have been evidences of His love and mercy in the midst of our home, flowing in their precious hearts.
God has worked in my ministry. After years of dreaming about writing and blogging, I began to see this come to fruition. Despite me. In spite of my doubts and my fears and my insecurities, He is working. I can let any “because of me” thoughts move to the wayside and trust He will do what He wants to do in all things.
He has worked in my church. The people and the place! God has blessed our church family with a new building and an abundance of new opportunities to share the Gospel. He has grown us while stretching us. This has nothing to do with our abilities or wisdom or strength. Not because of us, but despite of us we can claim His great works of grace in our midst and move forward together.
So with summer coming to a – believe it or not— CALM close . . . I understand that the work He has done in my life and in the lives of those around me should not be taken for granted. That the lessons we’ve learned about chaos, and the lessons we’ve learned in the midst of that chaos, are meant for our pursuit of sanctification. For our journey of being solely dependent on and sold-out for Him!
I’m bringing my empty hands to Him today and everyday. Lord, I really have nothing to offer to you but my heart and my service to these people that you’ve placed in my life. Let my ugliness and my weaknesses be something that you refine as I lay them at the foot of the Cross. My faith is in You, Jesus, the One who can take my mess and work all things out for your glory and our good . . . despite of me.