"MaryBeth, can I please have it all now?"
It seems over the past month, this is what the Lord has been asking me over and over again. Usually, I would quickly respond with a "Yes Lord, it's all yours," but recently I have held back from such responses. This is mostly because I have been scared. Every single part of my flesh doesn't want to hand over my dreams, loved ones or possessions to the Lord. I have a comfortable life and I don't want that being disrupted. Again, these "things" are idols in my life. They are all things that I am trying to control rather than trusting the Lord with them.
Last night I was reading from "Hearts of Fire" by the Voice of the Martyrs group. I read the story of a woman named Gladys who moved to India to share the gospel with the native people. She thought she had given God everything, but in her heart she knew her temptation was to hold on tightly to the things and dear ones she loved most. Later she prayed to God, giving Him the answer she knew He deserved,” Yes, Lord Jesus. Yes, I am willing. Take all that I have for Your use - my husband, my children, everything that I have. I surrender everything to You." After she prayed she felt the Holy Spirit comforting her as she remembered the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac, to God. At that time she had no idea what was in store for her and her family.
The very next week, her precious husband and sons were brutally killed by anti-Christian rebels while on medical mission trip in a small village in rural India. As she dealt with tidal waves of grief and despair, she committed to use their martyrdom to share the love of Jesus Christ and also to forgive those who killed her loved ones. When asked to speak at her husband’s funeral, she could only think of one thing to speak about, forgiveness. She shared with thousands of non-believing Indians about her ability to love and forgive those who killed her husband because of the forgiveness she found at the cross through Jesus Christ. Years later, she is still traveling around the world sharing her story of love and forgiveness.
Stories like these break my heart because I usually ramble off half-hearted answers to the Lord when He asks such things from me. I focus on my life, my comfort and my happiness rather than surrendering it all to the Lord for His use. At the time, I'm sure Gladys had no idea how many thousands of people the Lord would line up for her to reach out to as a direct response to her suffering. She could have chosen to wallow in her pain and shut herself off from the Lord's calling, but because she was wholly surrendered to Him, He was able to use her greatly.
I honestly don’t know how I would handle something like what Gladys went through. But I do know regardless of what happens to me, God promises never to leave or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) , never will I be given something more than what I can handle (1 Corinthians 10: 13), and most of all, when hard times do come my way, the Lord promises to be my strength (2 Thessalonians 3:3). If I can just focus on those things, maybe I will be able to give God all of the glory when hard times come my way and will be able to be used for things that are eternal rather than things that are only temporary.