Okay! As promised, the testimonies of faith shared at the retreat:
I have been married for 43 years. We have four children: three boys and one girl; and we have five grandchildren. I would like to share my road journey with you.
We all want our journeys to be smooth and not bumpy. But God is in the character building business, and He takes us off-roading. Trials come our way to test our heart, and we either accept them and grow or we develop a hard heart and turn away from God.
In 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor told me that I needed a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and that there was a 50% chance of it coming back within a year. Wow! I drove myself home and my mind was in a fog. I sat on the sofa and felt as if I was in the middle of the black sea without a life preserver. At that time I couldn’t remember one single Scripture verse. I felt so alone. But as I sat there I did remember the story about King Solomon asking for wisdom. So I asked for peace. I didn’t know what was ahead, but it sure didn’t sound good. I turned to my devotion for the day… John 14:27. It also happened to be the 27th, two days before my birthday. The verse said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” So, I said, “How are you going to do that, God?” The next day, at work, a patient gave me a check that had the word “peace” written on it. Ok God, open my eyes to see You everywhere and in everything. I want to do this well… You know people are watching!
I can’t say that I didn’t doubt or was fearful, “But God.” As I spent time in the Word, comfort and peace came. Psalm 57:1 says, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.” The word “until” stuck in my mind. I knew I would get through this, and I needed to trust God. You see, both parents and grandparents died within three months of each other of a cancer. Surgery and many months of chemo and radiation, and yes, I not only lost my breast buy all of my hair, eyelashes, and brows. But you know? I was still me! I just looked different! At the same time, God was using me to encourage others going through this valley. I learned that God is in everything and there is nothing negative about Him! I learned to trust Him as never before. And you know what? I wasn’t a statistic!
God was using this aspect of my life for yet another adventure. Our children gave us an anniversary party three years ago. There have been differences between all of them, but nothing has compared to the two older boys. They haven’t spoken or seen each other since that time. The family has been separated since that party. I don’t like holidays or birthdays anymore, because they just remind me of the fracture in our family. During this time our younger son has made some very poor choices with his life, and at this moment, not one of us knows how he is or where he is. Those of us who are mothers know the pain and disappointment this causes. If you are like me, you take this very personally. First of all, I couldn’t believe this was happening. And second, I felt somehow I was responsible… a terrible failure as a mom. You question yourself and your motives. Did I not give him enough time? What happened? Now, I have become very aware that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, wants me to become useless and unable to serve the Lord. I needed to come to the realization that my boys have misguided views and a hard heart that only God can change. I have asked God how He wants me to live, now that I feel so broken and empty. As I read the Word, God told Joshua not to look to the right nor to the left, but to stay focused on Christ. In 1 Peter 4:2b-3, it says, “For the will of God, you have spent enough time in the past.”
There are no shortcuts. There is no absence of pain. But I have found that as I surrender all to Jesus, He is faithful and will heal the brokenhearted. My prayer is that He will continue to open doors for me to see my purpose. After all, His grace is sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness!