Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Relinquishment - Eleanor Shepherd

I was reminded today of an experience I had when I lived here, in Montreal, in the 1980s.  At the time our children were about seven and twelve and my husband Glen and I were both fully engaged in ministry. 

Glen went in to work early.  Then, I drove the children to their schools and went into the office.  It was such a busy time in our lives! There were also unresolved issues in our relationship that were causing tension between us as a couple.  Some days I felt I was on a treadmill, and it would not slow down long enough for me to get off.  

 One morning, after I dropped the children, I was overcome with weariness.  As I headed toward the office, uninvited tears began to roll down my face.  Habitually, this time alone in the car had become my opportunity to speak aloud to God and tell Him how I was feeling.  That morning torn between fatigue and frustration, I cried out, “I just cannot go on!  Please help me.” 

 Then I became aware that my mind was heading down the familiar route of self-indulgence. I was setting myself up for one big pity party. Instinctively, I realized that would be a dead end street.  Clenching my teeth, I determined I would not fall into this trap.  What could I do to stop it? 

 Glancing at the seat beside me, I spied a cassette tape.  I grabbed it and shoved it into the car tape player.  Suddenly the gentle voice of Joni Eareckson Tada floated out of the machine.  What hit me were the words she was singing. 

             “He careth for you.  He careth for you,

             When the worries and cares of your life,

            Seem to block out the rays of His light.

            Never forget. Never lose sight.

            For He careth for you, for He careth for you.

 Then she said, “Remember 1Pet 5: 7, 'Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.'” 

At that moment, I knew that it was not only Joni’s voice I was hearing.  The Holy Spirit was graciously reminding me how much I was loved.  I did not have to carry these cares alone.  He was with me and was waiting for me to turn them over to Him, so that He could accomplish what He wanted to do for me.

 It was an unexpected turning point in my life.  I dared to turn it all over.  To all appearances, nothing changed in that moment.  Yet the person I have become since that day reveals that everything changed. 

 That does not mean that I have not had anxious moments since then.  Had I known that eighteen years later my son would find himself paralyzed like Joni, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to carry on, but God is merciful and kind.  His assurance was what I needed that day and He has continued to remind me of His care, even in the darkest days. 

 Strangely enough, I spoke today with a friend at work who had a similar kind of experience.  He became a widower with three young children and faced trying to raise them alone.

 One day, he too came to the end of his resources and cried out to God, as he relinquished the children to Him.  It was also a turning point in his life.  Although today they have become fine young adults, he acknowledges the credit does not go just to his parenting. 

 We find ourselves at another time of relinquishment in our lives today.  This time we have the opportunity to give back to God the wonderful ministry that He has provided for us.  We are living in tough economic times and support is hard to come by.  Yet what we sense is that He is in control and what He wants from us is our willingness to place the future of our ministry in His hands. 

 As a young mother the books of Catherine Marshall, particularly Something More, profoundly impacted me.  She recounted there her own relinquishment experience.   The turning point in her life was the day she decided that she would quit grasping tightly her struggle with ill health and would give it over to Him.  Then came her healing.  In her prayer of relinquishment she was quite specific.  She affirmed God’s presence with her, His love for her and His sovereignty, that He knew what was best for her. 

 Having read and reflected on her experience was likely what enabled me to take the step of trust that morning in my car, prodded by Joni’s song. 

 Today I know that God is present with us in our ministry.  He has shown us many concrete examples of His activity.  I know He loves us and equally importantly, He loves those we are serving.  He also knows He can best use our ministry.  Why would we not surrender it to Him?  As the apostle Peter said, “To whom else could we go?”

 Maybe that is also the secret to successful writing.  We need to remember that He cares about us and values the writing gift that He has entrusted to us. He wants us to be able to use it well.  He loves us, and all those who read what we write.  He knows where our writing needs to go and who needs to have the opportunity to read it.  Maybe He is waiting for us to relinquish it to Him.

Why not? 




Peter Black said...

Relinquishment -- a strong message, sensitively given, and with great poignancy.
Thank you, Eleanor.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, Peter, for your incredibly encouraging comments.

Popular Posts