Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.Psalm 42:5 NKJV
I recall the time we found ourselves at a crossroads. We had only one child remaining at home, and he was nearing that precious point in time when he, too, would leave to fulfill his destiny. So in my journal, I wrote:
“I have always believed that you raise children to let them go, so that is not so much causing the disturbance within my soul; it is much more what comes next. We are, or actually, I am in the “Sandwich Generation” as I care for my elderly and ailing parents and finish raising my family. God has richly blessed me with all these people to love and serve. However, I know that these days are rushing to a close on all accounts.
My spirit is disquieted within me at the “Then what?” question. It is not as though my ministry opportunities will be gone, as the counseling and discipling of women never ceases; I will have my husband and family to love until we all go to the Lord. There is just a quiet ache today.
Perhaps it is because we are preparing to sell the home in which we raised all our children — the only home our youngest has ever known. The old walls of this home have heard much laughter and seen many beautiful events of our family. The sounds of births, graduations, new spouses, friends, and loved ones have all echoed through our home. Yet, these walls have also witnessed tears and pain as we struggled mightily through dark days and nights of fear of things we could not control and as we wondered at times what would become of us.
Perhaps it is because we do not know where to go next. We desire to minister as full-time as possible. However, as our older years are getting closer, we realize that we must make provisions for those days when we may not work due to illness or simply being old.
Perhaps it is because I know my youth is behind me now. I can see that clearly as I look into the mirror and see little lines around my eyes. I used to console myself by saying it was from decades of pulling on them while wearing contact lenses. However, I have a sneaking suspicion there is more at play here now.
Perhaps it is because what I want, I may not be able to have. God may exercise His sovereignty over my life and steer its course in another direction entirely. Away from this State, away from the ministry that I love so dearly, away from people and all that is familiar to me. Stretching me again in the realm of change — something I dislike overall. I console myself by saying that should not happen soon (if at all) because I have responsibilities here. I am still in the middle of the “sandwich.” But these things can change in the blink of an eye.”
My thoughts about God exercising His sovereignty were indeed on target. It took more than three years before I was able to return to full-time ministry. I have been stretched beyond anything I ever thought possible; heartache and trials followed us here, too.
Ministry is a rich blessing that God has allowed to flourish. We counsel, teach, train, serve and equip many men and women who want to learn how to help others from the sufficiency of God’s Word. I am privileged to be a frequent conference and event speaker and have published numerous books. I even earned by doctorate in biblical counseling!
We have entered these early “senior years” with our health and faculties intact, more in love with each other, and with a relationship that has stood the test of time and trials. We have no plans to retire to the back porch. Instead, we intend to serve the Lord until He calls us home. But as I said those many years ago, these things can change in the blink of an eye. So, I find myself at the same place I was when I first wrote this post. Therefore, I will repeat how I ended it before:
“The Psalmist says, ‘Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.’ He is my only hope for all of my life. I do know that what His will is for us will be done. I do surrender my plans to Him, believing that His plan is more excellent, wiser, and more wonderful than I could ever imagine. I praise my God, even when my soul is downcast, for I know He loves me, and all His plans are good.
I can trust Him with my future, where I shall live, and whom I will minister to when I get there. He had seen the end from the beginning before time existed, and His ways are perfect. I will trust You, oh my God! Bless the Lord, oh my soul!”
Amen and amen.