Tag Archives: Surrender

Demoted

21 Sep

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me,
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me
–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24

As I look back over the decades of my life, there has been one Constant.  God has always been there.  God has always been tugging at my heart, seeking after me, and longing for me to return His love.  I also realize that all my relationships through life have been interlaced and intermingled through God’s love.  It’s just who I am and have always been.  In fact, a gal several years ago got all irritated with me and said she wanted to be my friend without all the ‘God stuff’.  I chuckled and quickly told her that there is no separating God out of who I am, for then it wouldn’t be me anymore.

Family Christmas Photo
Albuquerque, NM ~ 1997

Ministry has always kept me very busy… missions, women’s ministry, music, Sunday School, etc  ~  with an increased acceleration through the years.  When our family responded to the call of God on our lives in 1997 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be Work & Witness Coordinators for Nazarene Indian Bible College, our ministry became our job.  Our job was our ministry.  And with the wardrobe of ministry, one never just wears one hat.  Within a short period of time, Tim and I were both sporting several hats, some worn at the same time as others.  But we knew God called us, and we knew He was faithful to help us keep our hats on straight.  In time, God’s call took on a different look, involved more people and additional responsibility, but His mission to win the lost remained priority.  As what often happens when life becomes demanding, exhausting, and our world is shaken up by our circumstances, what is real stands firm while the rest sloshes out and makes a mess.  During this time of my life, scripture grew more dear to my heart, my personal prayer time became my lifeline, and I dug in even deeper as Jesus truly became my Tower of Refuge and Strength.

Lunch with my mom and brothers ~ 2008

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes anything … and so He once again took a broken vessel and restored it for His use.  The next 4 years placed us right where God knew we needed to be…for such a time as this.  Employment at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center was the ministry behind each paycheck, but my heart longed to be personally involved with people and to shine a light for Jesus. God honored my desire and through the lives of my co-workers and a few other friends, a new ministry was born.  Friendship, encouragement, and accountability were priority to our gatherings, and Jesus was always the Center.  What began as Tasty Tuesday evolved into Munchy Monday … and is still an active group of ladies who encourage one another, love each other, and love Jesus.  Not only was it the season for a brand new ministry, but after many years of living far away from my mother, I then was close enough to travel the hour and a half to see her on a regular basis.  I was there when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments.  I was there during the recuperation period following her fall and shattered elbow.  Although it was short-lived, my time with my mother was a blessing beyond words.

There came a time when we knew that our assignment at Higher Ground was inevitably coming to an end.  Once again, I had to envelop my heart in several layers of bubble wrap as we packed up all of our belongings and moved to south central Pennsylvania … another move, another location, another restart.  With no ministry involvement in the existence of our everyday, this change has been very different, and often difficult for my heart.  Finding a job with the hours I wanted to work was a challenge.  The church we attend is a lighthouse in its area, but we travel quite a distance to get there, which has not allowed us to become part of the fabric of this fellowship.  The only friends we have made are those we work with or in some way associated with our jobs.  As the months have slipped by and it has now been 2 years since we arrived, I have often found myself on my knees, questioning God, pointing out the many miles that separate me from all of my friends and family, reminding Him of the baggage we brought here with us that is still not completely unpacked, and truly feeling demoted.  The ache in my heart for the lost is still as strong as it was in Albuquerque.  My desire is to be a light for Jesus, but I have often felt as though I’ve been stuffed in a dark corner of Pennsylvania with no ministry, no outlet, and no joy.

One bleak day a few months ago, I was talking to one of my friends … Sigh!  Yes, one that I left behind in Ohio.  It’s not too often that I get whiney and begin to pass out party hats to my own self-pity party, but that day I had, and I invited Linda to join me.  Like a good friend, she listened, but like a true and committed friend, she also held me accountable.  Her words to me were God directed as they lassoed me out of the dark clouds and brought me back to reality … God’s reality.  She began to point out the obvious ~ our greatest blessing in living here … our close proximity to our daughter and her precious family.  Being an intricate part in the lives of Kim and Troy, Cole, and now Baby Lillie, is a gift from God’s own hand … the joy, the responsibility, the thrill, and the honor of not only being parents, but Mimi and Papaw.  In the same breath, although this move closer to the east coast took us that much further away from the west coast and Ryan, it offers more opportunity for our entire family to be together more often in the same place.  I’m not sure what else Linda said to me, but her accountability catapulted me into my devotions the following morning. I told God that I was going to begin each day from here on out, expecting to find a passage of scripture that was mine.  I was determined and committed to not leave my place of morning worship without a message from God to my own heart.  Every day since, with very few exceptions, I have done just that.  A couple days following that near fatal pity party, I believe God personally hand-picked a few verses for me that sums up my current ministry…

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care,
watching over them—not because you must,
but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;
not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;
 
not lording it over those entrusted to you,
but being examples to the flock. 
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:2-4

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
“Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things;
you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:15-17

My children and Me ~ July 2012

My primary roles as wife, mother, Mimi, and daughter are ever before me, as these relationships represent the core of my world right now.  My current employment is one of choice, enabling me the time away from the office to be available to help others when and where needed.  And let’s be honest … at this stage of my life, I truly have no authority to correct or discipline, except for Mimi’s little loves.  Most of my influence right now is by example.  That example must have a solid foundation, rooted and grounded deep, so when the winds of life begin to blow around me and those in my world, I can stand firm with confidence in Jesus.  And in that confidence, I can stay on my knees for my family, seeking God on their behalf.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

I have thought a lot about this topic of being demoted, asking God a lot of questions, seeking Him, reading His heart, listening to Him.  In the stillness of His whisper the other day, instead of demoted, I heard the word promoted.  Promoted.  Me?   Scripture does say in Matthew …

And everyone who has left houses
or brothers or sisters or father or mother
or children or fields for my sake
will receive a hundred times as much
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last,
and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:29-30

  

As I read the devotional for Sept 19th in Streams in the Desert, I had already underlined this paragraph a few years ago …

 “Pruning seems to be destroying the vine,
the gardener appears to be cutting it all away;
but he looks on into the future and KNOWS that the final outcome
will be the enrichment of its life and greater abundance of fruit.”

It seems that I have been pruned and it appears that much has been cut away …

I do know and understand that a totally surrendered heart relinquishes all rights and claims, empties soul of self, and then invites the Holy Spirit to fill and take up residence.   Jesus wants to take my perspective of being demoted, and ultimately turn it into a promotion.

Just over 10 years ago at a ladies’ retreat in New Mexico, this song gripped the very core of who I was at that moment in my life … and the message still echoes the cry of my heart today …

“Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all”

Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THHu5QPjB_4
to hear I Surrender All … by Clay Crosse
(After listening/watching the video, simply click on the BACK arrow in the left corner to come back to the blog)

Won’t you join me today in allowing what might seem to be a demotion in life ~ whether it be relational, employment, circumstances, physical, spiritual … trusting God with all the details of the heart?  As we relinquish and surrender, Jesus becomes our Promotion.

Until next time,
Debbie

I Surrender All lyrics
Songwriters: Hamm Regie Glenn; Moffitt David E

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I’ve constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I’ve finally found
I’ll never know the thrill of victory till I’m willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I’m laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain

So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay down
I surrender all the triumph for it’s only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
Well I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

Everything I am, all I’ve done, and all I’ve known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all

I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall
That all my kingdoms fall, that all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

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Completely

20 May
 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength. 
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

 

I was honored with an invitation to be the guest speaker at a ladies’ annual spring banquet last Friday night.  The church was located back in my old tromping grounds of southern Indiana, so I was blessed beyond measure to have 12 of my dearest friends from the Cincinnati area come and see me!  The evening’s festivities began with cupcake chat, singing, and a delicious dinner.  What a joy it was for me as I sat there eating, talking, and listening to the different conversations around the table … trying to soak up every moment of being with my friends so I could tuck away the evening’s morsels of memories and savor them later. 

Most of the gals, plus my Momma!

With satisfied and full tummies, we all made our way back up to the sanctuary for the remainder of the evening.  Moments before I was introduced and welcomed to come up front, a young lady began to sing a very special song.  As the music started to play for her accompaniment, my heart began to swell and my eyes began to fill.  I sat there in that pew, totally transported to another time and another place. 

The time was September 13, 2006 and the place was Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Indiana.  Having packed every item we owned, leaving behind our place of ministry in Albuquerque, NM for the past 9 years and friends too many to count, a new life was before us.  After traveling for 3 days and 1400 miles, we were almost there.  As I followed behind the big yellow moving truck and exited off the interstate, I slipped my Sandia Women’s Retreat 2006 Worship CD into the player and found this special song on purpose.  The message of the words penetrated my being as I once again had to let go and surrender everything to His control.  With tears streaming down my face, we pulled onto the grounds of our new home, ministry, and life.  I sang this song as an act of worship … my heart filled with sadness in leaving friends and ministry behind, and my soul filled with the uncertainty of a new place, new work and ministry, and new people.  Right there in that moment …  Click here to listen

COMPLETELY 

The secret of life is letting go
The secret of love is letting it show
In all that I do
In all that I say
Right here in this moment

The power of prayer is in a humble cry
The power of change is in giving my life
And laying it down
Down at your feet
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

This journey of life is a search for truth
This journey of faith is following you
Every step of the way
Through the joy and the pain
Right here in this moment

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

Right here, right now, and for the rest of my life
Hear me say

(Chorus)
Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am yours and yours alone
Completely

 

As I sat there last Friday night once again listening to this song, I could still smell the freshly mown grass, I could see the deep plush green of everything (as opposed to the very little green and mostly brown that we had grown to love in Albuquerque), and I could still feel the intense ache, fear, and loneliness that enveloped me at that moment in 2006.   But as that young lady continued to sing, my Jesus wrapped His arms of love around me and whispered in my ear … “Look around you.”  There I was, literally surrounded by 3 rows of women who specifically came to see me.  These weren’t just any women.  They were the ones I rubbed shoulders with on a regular basis … at work, at district functions, Munchy Monday, … all from my life at Higher Ground.   We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and lived life together.  They were the result of my letting go, laying it all at His feet, and saying I am Yours and Yours alone … completely.  

I am overwhelmed with how personal and loving my Jesus is to me.    He took the past 5 years, placed it all in a box for me, and wrapped it up with a nice pretty bow on top.  He placed a tag on the outside and wrote “I love you, Debbie!” Those girls, especially, know what that means to me.  They are the jewels inside that shine above all the other stuff. 

With tears still in my eyes, it was my turn to come up front and speak.  Temporarily laying my notes to the side, I had to share my journey through those last 5 minutes and express my love in return to my Jesus.     

Take my heart
Take my soul
I surrender everything to your control
And let all that is within me lift up to you and say
I am yours and yours alone
Completely

I am Yours and Yours alone
Completely

I will share the rest of the story … next time.
Debbie