Friday, April 8, 2011

Following Jesus

Last December I lost my father to a rare form of Leukemia. While the Leukemia was a sudden illness, his health had been compromised for years by a liver disease. To say I was close with my father is an understatement. He was my hero and loved him very much.

My mother never left my father’s side. As determined as Dad was to fight for his life, my mother was as determined to strengthen and care for him. She never complained during Dad’s extended admittance to the hospital, still I knew mom needed a break. One weekend I drove from Amarillo to Oklahoma City to help.

When I arrived, I offered to spend the night at the hospital and let mom get a nights rest at a near by hotel. Mom informed me that the doctor would come in the next morning and give a report on an important blood test. She instructed me to call and let her know what he said.

The next morning the nurses came in to get Dad dressed. He had his shorts and shirt on with wires and tubes running all through his sleeves. We helped him sit up on the side of the bed. He didn’t want to take the news from the Oncologist lying down.

Soon the doctor would arrive and report that the marrow sample showed three different severe forms of Leukemia. Though they would continue to do all they knew to do for my dad, his chances of survival were small.

The doctor left the room. I was sitting behind the hospital bed looking at Dad’s back. His head was hung low as if the wind had been knocked out of him. At first, neither one of us said a word then I heard Dad say, “The devil is doing everything he can to make me think The Lord doesn’t love me. I know better. I KNOW the Lord loves me!”

I’m not sure my father knew how his words changed my life. It was hard enough to watch the pain he endured for years, I couldn’t imagine how discouraging it had to be to live with it. Even in the face of this horrible news he didn’t give his spirit over to the death sentence handed him, instead He chose to acknowledge The Giver of Life.

Immediately I asked myself if I could do the same. Given the same circumstances with what appears to be a hopeless situation. Could I testify to the Love of the one whom I had entrusted my life?

Almost a year after my father passed away, the life I knew and loved took a dramatic turn. My husband, Chad and I found ourselves leaving a ministry we had invested our everything in to with nothing but the hopes that God would heal our hearts and allow us to serve Him in a mighty way again.

We packed up what we owned and moved back to Chad’s hometown in Oklahoma. One night, shortly after the move I couldn’t sleep. Chad had taken a job delivering oil rig equipment and I was waiting for him to call and check-in.

I was thinking about what our lives had been reduced to. As a young girl I’d surrendered my life to be a missionary. Chad and I both thought we had been obedient. So why was God allowing our family to suffer like this? “What a waste!” I thought. “Chad and I should be clicking right along, doing the work of The Lord. Instead we’ve lost everything; even, at this point, the desire to serve.”

Then I remembered my dad, and how he testified to The Love of Jesus that morning in his hospital bed. See, Dad knew something I didn’t. He had followed Jesus to places in His heart most would rather just read about from a safe distance; however, there is only one path to calm assurance. You have to be willing to be in the boat with Jesus on a stormy night. To trust His voice when He calls you out on the water and obey when He says to cast your net on the other side of the boat.

Not long after that night, Chad and I felt God calling us to “follow Him”. We learned that in Edmond, Oklahoma there are 3 square miles of apartment complexes where over fifteen thousand people reside. By faith, we have moved into a centrally located complex to minister through planting a mission church.

It is the heart of Truth Baptist Mission to teach the word of God, minister to the physical needs of the residents, feed children, and lift up the name of Jesus. Over spring break God provided a way for us to feed 200 lunches a day and have an evangelistic outreach on the last day. Eight children gave their hearts to Jesus that Friday.

By faith, Chad and I are planning an exciting summer of ministry. We know it is possible because we have already seen God multiply our "nothing” and provide. In the coming months, we look forward to reporting on the miraculous way God cares for our needs and how lives are changed through this work. And we shall spend our days testifying to the Great Love of God!

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