We arrived at church. Still, I was in a pitiful state. Eric felt sorry for me and said if we had a light amount of infants I should go into church. I was hopeful. Surely, God wanted me in church this morning so he could minister to me. However, the other couple that was supposed to work with us--only the husband came because the wife had to stay home with their sick child. The other child care worker, which was a girl, was a no show. There has to be a woman in child care to change the diapers. It's a law, I think. As I realized this, I almost completely lost it. I went into the bathroom to compose myself. I felt forgotten by God. I felt unloved. I felt alone. Now, I KNEW in my heart that these things weren't true and it was just a church service, for crying out loud! What was wrong with me?! Pull it together, I shouted inside my head. There are wars being fought and people starving, for Pete's sake. Get a grip! As I was in the restroom I cried out to God: "Lord, forgive me for the state of my emotions. Forgive me that I am really letting this grief make me feel sorry for myself. I know I need to be thankful and count my blessings this morning. You have given me so much. But I feel forgotten by you. I know in my head this is not true, but in my heart I am believing something different". After praying, God again whispered: "Have a God Mother's Day".
I went back into the infant's room, resigned to the fact that the Lord had me working this morning for a reason and I needed to embrace it. Over the next ten minutes, a calmness came over me and I was able to carry on and even enjoy my time in the nursery.
The day went on. My emotions were all over the place--one minute I was feeling sorry for myself--the next I was 'okay'. Finally, that afternoon, Owen went down for a nap and Eric said to spend the next three hours doing whatever I wanted. I heard the fountain beside the Starbucks at the Summit calling my name. It was a beautiful day. So I left, planning on sitting outside by the fountain and finishing a book that I have been reading.
Right before getting there, I called a friend of mine to check on how she was doing (she lost both of her parents several years ago and Mother's Day is particularly hard for her). Right before hanging up, she said that she had been praying for me and Colossians 3:17 had come to her mind and she wanted to share it with me: 'Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.'
Well, I got my coffee, set down and opened my book. I began reading and couldn't believe it when I saw Col. 3:17 jump off the page. The next several pages were devoted to this particlar verse and Thess. 5:18: "Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The author, Jerry Rankin, was a missionary for several years in Indonesia. He told the story of how they lived five hours from any other missionary family and after two or three months would begin to feel isolated. So, every two or three months, they would plan a couple of days away to visit with the closest missionary friends for some refreshment. They always tried to leave early in the morning on these trips because if they didn't, it could take several hours due to traffic and be a miserably hot and dusty trip. One particular morning, they planned to leave early, but interruption after interruption occurred causing them to leave much later than anticipated. By this time, he was becoming more and more irritated and impatient but glad to finally be on their way. He goes on to say:
'We had to drive through town to get to the main highway, and right in the middle of town we had a flat tire. My patience had already worn pretty thin, and we had not even gotten out of town. I would have to change the tire, take time to get it repaired, and go home to clean up after getting dirty and greasy. The market was across the street from where I was changing the tire, and people began to gather around to watch. A big semicircle of people developed. No one offered to help and I could hear them laughing and joking, amused at the inconvenience of this foreigner who had a flat tire. I wasn't feeling a lot of love toward those people among whom God had called us to live and witness.
Just as i was putting the last lug bolts on, Russell, our son, who had been leaning out the front window of the car watching me, said, "Praise the Lord, we had a flat tire!" The last thing I felt like doing was praising the Lord. Whey did he say that? He was only four years old. We had developed a pattern in our family to praise the Lord in all things. When things go wrong, plans don't work out, one of the children falls and skins a knee, or a toy is broken, we just praise the Lord. Notice what happens when we praise the Lord. Instead of our focus being on the circumstances, it is redirected to the Lord. Once praise enables us to focus on the Lord, we are reminded that He is present with us....Praise restores us to a proper relationship with God and puts our circumstances in perspective.'
He also shared a story about another missionary in Indonesia:
'She said, "The best advice given to me before we came to Indonesia was be grateful and praise the Lord in all things. I have been discouraged recently as we have gone through challenging cultural adjustments; I have been struggling with doubts and have lost the joy I used to have. So the Lord impressed me this morning that I should write down some of the things that He impressed me to be thankful for.
- I praise the Lord for the courage God gave my husband as I practiced driving for the first time in Indonesia.
- I praise God for the days I feel worthless because I am reminded of God's strength during my weakness.
- I'm grateful for the strong stomach and bravery God gave me one day at my neighbor's house to eat meat with fur on it.
- I'm thankful for the lessons of servanthood I've learned from my household helper.
- I praise the Lord for the congested crowds of people, for they are a reminder of the multitiudes that live in darkness, and it keeps me on my knees.
- I praise the Lord for the times the Holy Spirit convicted me of my pride and my pitiful attitude and other sins that separated me from the Father so I could ask forgiveness and once again enjoy being in His holy presence.
- I'm grateful for the times our son has been sick so that I could teach him to pray for healing and trust God to meet his needs.
- I praise God for the struggle of knowing His will because through the struggle I listen more carefully and seek more diligently.
- I praise the Lord for the smog in Jakarta becuase I'm overwhelmed at the blessings and beauty of a bright blue sky on other days.
- I praise the lord for the sometimes gagging smells of the open sewage in front of our house because it's a reminder to me of how my sins and the sins of all of Indoniesia are such a stench to our lord.
- I'm grateful for my nosy neightbor and how she is a reminder that I must live the kind of life to which I testify.
- I'm grateful for the peace and confidence of my calling, even in times when my unbelieving father's words of disapproval and discouragement were hurtful.
- I praise God for the time I was ugly with my kids, and the Holy Spirit said, "out of the fullness of the heart speaks the mouth." And i was able to confess my anger and my ugliness to my children so that they could see me model humilty and forgiveness.
- And one thing I'm most grateful for is my husband, and how God has kept him strong when I was weak and kept me strong when he was weak, and how God has grown our love even during the struggle.
The Lord gently ministered to me through these testimonies. Those few hours of reading helped me see things from a different perspective--a God perspective. As I drove home yesterday afternoon, feeling renewed, refreshed and joyful, the Lord once again brought to my mind: 'Have a God Mother's Day.' Yes, yes--I could finally see it. My perspective had shifted. I was able to smile and thank the Lord for giving me such a day.