From Lent Reflections

  • When have you felt God direct you to make a change in your life? Did you struggle with any doubt or were you confident in the change?

In August 1992, my husband, Bill, had a job opportunity and was ready for a change of venue . After praying about the situation, he took the job and moved three hours away, commuting home on weekends for the next year and a half. In December of that year I attended a Walk to Emmaus at the invitation of a friend from church. It seemed like it would be a pleasant women’s retreat. It turned out to be a major reorientation of my life….. One that would have immediate impact, but also began preparing me for what was about to be a long season of many changes. By the time Bill attended an Emmaus Walk in August 1993, we both were experiencing a lot of changes.

I stayed in our hometown of 20 years during the year and a half after Bill began his new job. Our youngest child had a final year of high school to complete There were a number of other considerations and plans to work through to move my mother-in-law and an infirm uncle of my husband, both residents in our home, too. Then our home had to be sold.We finally joined Bill in April 1994, arriving well after dark. The first night we arrived, we slept on the floor of the rental home, awaiting the moving van the next day. We discovered the next morning that our U-haul trailer and two cars had been broken into with a number of things stolen…. not a good omen for life in the new hometown.

The move was a lot harder for me than I had expected. Bill’s uncle died after about six months in a nursing home in our new city. We weathered our first major hurricane with Opal. I struggled with efforts to change sales jobs, making two changes in six months in 1994, and was traveling a lot with large territories. Bill was very involved in his new job. I felt the full force of “empty-nesting” and felt increasingly disconnected. We bought a home in October 1995 and moved into another new neighborhood. Another family member, a 39-year-old sister in law, died from recurrent breast cancer during that time. It was a season that found me in heavy-duty intercession for her, my brother, and other family members. Our son and his girlfriend of a few months decided to get married just before Christmas 1995. Bill’s mother died in July 1996, also from recurrent metastatic breast cancer. Sometime in those first two years, in a new church, in a new home, with compounding griefs and many new people and situations in our lives, I remember telling my primary care doctor I didn’t feel like myself….. I was struggling to find joy. Tears came easily. She told me I was just peri-menopausal and to take Oil of Evening Primrose and Remifemin…..

I saw our pastor one day when I stopped by the church. He asked me if I was okay. As I stood at the door about to leave, I remember telling him that it seemed that God had brought us to this new place and was taking everyone and everything from me that was familiar and comfortable in order to show me that He alone was all that I needed. He said he understood, added comforting words, and said he was available if I wanted to talk…. Soon after that, in June 1996, he was transferred and we got a new pastor.

As 1997 dawned, Bill and I had both begun to believe that God had brought us to Florida for reasons we hadn’t anticipated. We both found ourselves experiencing significant changes. We’d both gotten involved in our church and community Emmaus activities, participating in weekly reunion groups and volunteering on Emmaus Walk weekend teams. Bill chaired the church’s stewardship campaign and was growing in his deepened faith and service in the church. By Easter, it became clear that God had even more changes ahead for us, including the biggest storm we had faced in 25 years of marriage, as well as awaiting the expected joyful arrival of our first grandchild in June 1997.

March 20, 1997, began a series of unexpected events that sent me reeling emotionally, plunging into a confusing and unstable time. I was not doubting God, so much as doubting myself….not questioning God’s presence, sovereignty, or goodness, but certainly questioning how I was to respond to these experiences I was having. I had little confidence in my ability to anticipate and respond to the next moment, much less the next day or the next week. I was dependent every minute on the strength of God’s Word and Spirit to sustain me. When the bottom of the plunge came I was exhausted and in a crumpled heap requiring admission to a psychiatric hospital for six days. It was a relief. I had never felt God so close and comforting as I did in those months of having my life dismantled and reconstructed as during that long season from March through October 1997.

It was easy in hindsight to see how God had been leading and preparing both Bill and me step by step since the decision to move to Florida in August 1992. It made many additional changes through the years easier to receive with greater trusting confidence. And there would be many over the next 30+ years!

How does your relationship with Jesus help you when you find yourself at a crossroads?