Life was hard. Even though we were blessed in many ways, life was hard. The year was 2002. Pete was working overtime, and had been for ages, but he hadn’t been paid in months (this comes with the territory, when you have a non-profit ministry). We had just moved my elderly dad from his dream home in Mendocino, California to Colorado Springs. I had done much of the packing and unpacking. Now he was having medical issues that required an enormous amount of my time and attention.
I was in transition from full-time mom to empty-nester. I was feeling worthless, at a loss without a well-defined role to tell me who I was. We desperately needed money, but I couldn’t get a normal job because of my responsibilities in caring for my dad.
Looking back now, it doesn’t seem that bad (or I’ve grown since), but at the time, between the financial stress, the stress dealing with my dad’s medical issues, my lack of purpose, and the stress on our marriage, I was seriously struggling.
It’s when we’re feeling miserable that God is most able to get our attention. I was writing volumes in my journal, crying out to God, asking Him for direction, for encouragement—pretty much asking for anything from Him, just so I could know He was aware of me. All I got was silence. I’d never been stretched so thin.
I’ve been told that God will never give us more than we are able to bear. In my mind, we were way past that point, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. I was reaching the breaking point when God broke through.
Let me quote from my journal:
“I woke up at 4 am, tense and miserable. Pete was up, trying to have his time with God. We ended up talking for three hours, and I finally understand how to depend on God—you simply stop. It isn’t a matter of trying harder, or praying more fervently. It isn’t something we can do at all. And that’s the whole point.
“I have a mental image of me rushing around looking for God, while in reality, He’s right behind me, with a chair ready. All I have to do is stop and sit down.”
I don’t know how I could have missed this lesson before, but it was crystal clear now. Stop. Stop trying to do everything, to be everything. Stop trying to solve unsolvable problems. Stop and sit down. Stop and let God.
Sometimes the lessons that are hardest to learn prove to be the most valuable. Our circumstances didn’t change… in fact things got worse. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Pete’s overload increased. We used up our life savings and continued to live on a the brink of financial disaster. And one of our two daughters got engaged. (This was a wonderful thing, but weddings are stressful, no matter how elated you are about the coming marriage.)
Yet through the entire storm, I was able to sit in God’s chair. Oh, I got up and ran around at times. I’m still learning how this works. But whenever I realized how overwhelmed I was, God was right behind me saying, sit, rest, I will carry you. I was able to hand my list of needed miracles to God, and trust Him to take care of them all. And He did.
My dad, against all odds, recovered. He’s now in his late 80s, living in his own apartment in a senior retirement complex. God paid all our bills. We never had extra, and we lived without a lot of “wants,” but we never lacked essentials. Pete is still working overtime, but not as much as he was, and the ministry is making significant progress. And both of our daughters had beautiful weddings and are happily settling into life as married women.
Life has eased off considerably from those extremely difficult years. Yet, I still need God’s chair. It’s my mental image of what the Bible calls a Sabbath rest. We rest in God even while we’re busy, working, living, loving, being His body in a needy world.
The chair God gave me is made of dark brown wood, with round legs, a cane seat, and carved back supports. What does yours look like?