Weakness: Our Story, Chapter 7

Moving day had finally come. After 17 years, we were leaving Wisconsin. And we were leaving, not in strength for a bigger and better home, but in weakness as we had become so aware of our physical ill health. The picture before me only emphasized what I had come to know:

I had never been the strong one. I may have thought that I was the one managing the home or the gardens, but truthfully, I knew that only God had given me the strength to move the rocks and cook the meals and weed the vegetables and sew the clothes and pray the prayers.

And only God could have allowed that small internet connection, the last piece of our home-life not yet moved, to be the conduit from which I would share my stories over this blogosphere.

I was the most surprised of all when the years passed, and the words continued to pour forth through the keyboard. From the corner of that Wisconsin room, God dug deep in my heart and asked me to share the process of discovering more intimately that only HE was my true strength. And He displayed His power in me through the days when the enemy tried to speak the loudest utterances of shame:

You are too ill to find the strength to write!

You are too shut-in to understand what the world is really like!

You have too much of your own sickness to carry, how could you possibly find compassion for others?!

But the care of my Jesus was too great to let the enemy’s taunts remain. I felt His arms lift me above the battle lines so that I could boast, not in myself, but only in the strength of my Lord.

So that on the day after we had begun to settle into the new place provided for us in Illinois, I cried out to my Lord from my weakness. Over and over again my heart had trembled to visit one last Wisconsin Doctor. The tests could be long and difficult, and I wasn’t ready to face this last trial.

But my Jesus beckoned me to come with Him, to lay my stubborn reluctance at His feet, and to let Him once again carry me through the day. The first 2 hours proved to be grueling, but the last 2 hours held a surprise I had not expected, not after the many hard and minimizing visits that had come to define most of my Wisconsin healthcare experiences.

As the Doctor painstakingly placed one electrode after another, she and I fell into a discussion about health and respecting the bodies given to us by God. She was a Jesus follower also, and was thankful to find a kindred heart. She was overwhelmed that I had actually prayed for her the night before my appointment. And I was overjoyed to find a Doctor who understood what I was feeling and supported me in my journey. As she ended the visit by repeatedly telling me that I had been an encouragement to her, I expressed the same of how she had encouraged me.

But we both knew. And we both expressed the thought out loud. Everything that we have been given, every encouragement we might offer, is only from the Lord. Our boast is in Christ alone.

I had come full circle in the Wisconsin journey of beginning this Chronic Illness life. I was reminded of the words that were spoken to me in a dream (read about that here,) during the first few months after my RA diagnosis: “All of this that you are going through is MINE, because YOU are Mine, and this will be for GOD’S GLORY. Obey what I am asking of you, and walk with ME through this time of Brokenness and Prayer.”

And I was reminded of the time, almost 30 years before, when God had called me to pray from within another place of weakness . . .

Our Story, Chapter 7.  ~~1993 – 1996~~

If you have missed any of the previous chapters, click here to catch up.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 NIV

“Silly foot stopping me!”  was my journal entry that had led me down a winding trail of questions, stubborn reluctance, and finally, my lifting up to God. Earlier that week, my husband had water-baptized our oldest son. And on that same night we had received a phone call from the church which had considered choosing us as their Pastor. And even earlier that week, I had severely sprained my ankle as I tried to protect our younger son from being injured himself.

It had been a long week, after a long summer.

Even though the move had proven to be difficult, our children made new friends in the schools that they attended. We had already left homeschooling behind as we were told “it isn’t possible in the state of Illinois.” Later we found that out to be untrue.

However, God was using it all to show me another area of His strength, as He led me again to find His connections with the Moms in the school lines. Fellowship and true ministry were taking place on the front porches as we gathered for the morning walk to school.

While I found myself being drawn back into places of teaching, areas that we thought we had laid down were being stirred up in new ways. When my children’s teachers asked me why I wasn’t teaching, something asleep was awakened.

Could God actually be asking us to pick up teaching ministry again? Could official ministry walk side by side with unofficial serving?

There were too many Scriptures, words, and calls for us to ignore. We knew the Lord was asking us to face what we had laid down years before. The heart for teaching children was still burning inside of us, but there was also a longing to see everyone, young to old, come to a place of walking with Jesus through the ordinary moments of their days.

As my husband pursued the path to renew his ministerial credentials, we sought and prayed over many different positions. And then we were asked to interview for the Senior Pastor position from a small church in Michigan.

And so, on that week of my journal entry about my silly foot, I hobbled on crutches to the evening service where our son would be baptized. At that very time, across the miles, the elders in a small Michigan town gathered to pray over choosing their next pastor.

When the answer for us was “no,” I wasn’t too surprised. I had felt the Lord was leading us into the unknown, and it had not been uncovered yet. But as I sat listening to my husband’s words a few days later, the pain in my ankle kept me from interrupting him with my own arguments. My “silly foot” did stop me. Sometimes I think that God’s sense of humor is bigger than we have realized. 

I heard my husband asking me to pray about entering the field of drama as our ministry. It was the one subject that we both had thought was “hands-off” because God had called him away from entering training in drama when He called him into training for ministry. Neither of us had ever considered that God might have a purpose in my husband’s dramatic side.

Could God really have full use of something that we thought shut away? Would God ask for full surrender in an area that we thought was only worldly, or fleshly?

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 NIV

Dramatic creativity was the part of my husband that he had held onto as his greatest talent before He came to the Lord. But now God was asking us to see that in the surrender to Him, He was the one who would bring His own life into things thought long dead. Only God can bring about HIS wisdom through things that seem foolish to the world.

And we were thought pretty foolish as we began to share that God had called us to write and share a drama about the Apostle Thomas—the doubting one. We were thought even more foolish as the temp jobs became sporadic while my husband and I prayed and researched for many months before one word was ever written on that drama.

When the words were at last finalized, and the time came to share the presentation, we knew the heart of God was stirring us to take the message to more churches than just our own. But that meant I would need to call Pastors and actually ask them if we could share the drama with their church. Reference letters were written, brochures were made, and I had yet to call anyone.

Another surrender stared me down, eye-to-eye, as I looked at the phone on the desk. Visions of all of those old hurts of being thought foolish for listening to the call of God to pick up and move, all of those official ministries that had failed in the sight of the church, and all of those places where programs seemed a higher priority than people, were swimming in my mind. How could I step back into it all? 

Then God asked me a question.  . . . 

“Will you pray for my Shepherds?”

He didn’t take away the hurts first, He didn’t answer all of the questions, and He did not make the faulty programs disappear. He just asked me to pray and to love. I knew what the answer would be.

For you see, He had already been taking me deeper into the life of an intercessor. In those suburbs of Chicago, He had brought before me two very different women, and plunged my heart into a kind of praying and bearing of burdens that I had barely glimpsed before. Waking in the middle of the night with Scriptures and words, praying over the phone with these women at odd hours when the pain of the burden was too great, and loving them when I did not know where the love had even come from, had become a way of life for me. So when He asked me if I would pray for His Shepherds, the answer overflowed from a heart that had already become His place of prayer.

When I spent my afternoons tucked away in my room making those calls, it became a holy place. Most of the Pastors were shocked that I was not calling to just push our agenda. When I asked if I could pray for them, invariably there would be a pause, and a “Sure!” across the phone line. Many times they told me that God had sent my call at just the time they most needed encouragement. There came the day I paused myself, and realized my own heart had changed. The hurt and anguish in my heart toward those Pastors had been replaced by a deep love from God. The weak and smallest places of my own heart had been washed by the wisdom and mercy of our Loving Father.

Is there a weak and foolish-seeming question before you now?

Is something long-thought-dead being stirred alive in your heart?

Does it seem that there is no way to compete with the wisdom of the world?

Perhaps God is asking you to set aside those foolish and wise ways and look up. He wants to bring the lowly to the place of boasting in HIM.

I am linking with: #RememberMeMonday

26 thoughts on “Weakness: Our Story, Chapter 7

    1. Oh, Amen! His testimony of guiding us is so unlike the world’s way, isn’t it? I’m so grateful for your beautiful testimony also, dear sister. What a joy to be able to share in His Spirit together. Blessings to you today.

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  1. I love reading your story because I always find yet another connection between you and me. God called me even before my illness to begin praying for and writing to widows of pastors. I can’t believe I have been doing it for 13 years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mandy, Our God is so amazing, isn’t He? I love the way that He weaves our stories together to show us how His ways are so much higher than we could imagine. What a blessing you have been given to share with those widows all these years. Truly, God’s favor has been with you too in this path of chronic illness. Love and hugs to you!

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  2. Bettie, I really love reading each installment of your story. When you look back, it’s so cool to see how God was with you every step, even in the hardest times. You are such an encouragement to me. I’m so glad we can pray for and support each other. Much love to you with many blessings! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gayl,
      Oh, I am so thankful that we can pray for each other too. Your encouragement and support mean so much to me, especially since we both can look back and see the faithfulness of our Lord helping us. It’s so easy to forget that in these current hard times, but I am so glad that Jesus helps us to remind each other! Blessings, love and hugs to you dear friend. xoxo

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  3. It’s funny, isn’t it, how each surrender births such a blessing. It so touched my heart that you prayed for that doctor, even as your heart trembled at returning to a place you had experienced such trauma. God’s heart in you is so beautiful Bettie. Oh may He grow that beautiful heart in me.

    What struck me most reading this afresh was your and Barry’s laying down of the drama early on and how God gave it back to you both as a yearning now rooted in Him and His desire to bless His Body. Shows me how those yearnings in us to use the giftings He has given us are truly of Him – but also that they need to be cleansed and purified so we can offer them up from His pure heart.

    Just this morning I was sitting with the verse “When I am afraid I will trust in You.” and discovered that the Word for “afraid” is the same Word used when we read of Abraham fearing God in his obedience to take his only son up that hill. I read how that fear is the decision not to hold back what is most precious to us. Really that is a continual process, isn’t it? You so encourage me as a younger one that God will grow His heart in me as I choose to surrender, piece by piece, in His leading and encouragement, just as He has in you and Barry.

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  4. Dear Anna,
    And you so encourage me as you point me to fresh trust of Jesus each day. You are such a blessing as you speak the truth of Scripture.

    And yes, what a precious thought that Godly “fear is the decision not to hold back what is most precious to us.” Oh, such a continual process, day after day! He is so good to keep cleansing and purifying our hearts in Him. May I learn to so love His voice!

    Love and hugs and prayers for you dear friend. xoxo

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  5. Your story over and over show the God’s faithfulness! Even as you and your husband began pursuing the drama, He was using you in a prayer ministry. It reminds me that nothing we do is small–whatever we are pursuing, He is working in ALL things! I pray your are settling in well in your new place, Bettie!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oops, I hit send too soon! 😁 we need to remind ourselves continually that He is always at work. I still get so worried, but His grace is so sweet to send us His reminders at just the right time. Blessings, love, and prayers, dear friend.

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  6. Bettie, I was so excited to receive your latest writing! It’s a story that is not yet finished and I look forward to each new chapter. May God bless you with great affectionate care for your true heart for Him and to make Him known. I’ve fallen in love with you and your family and I don’t even know you, but I sure do recognize the Spirit of God in your lives.

    You are such a beautiful gift!!

    Melody ~

    On Mon, Aug 9, 2021 at 7:43 AM BettieGsRAseasons wrote:

    > Bettie G posted: ” Moving day had finally come. After 17 years, we were > leaving Wisconsin. And we were leaving, not in strength for a bigger and > better home, but in weakness as we had become so aware of our physical ill > health. The picture before me only emphasized” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Melodee, isn’t the weaving of our Holy Spirit so beautiful when He draws His people together? I am so grateful for you as well. You have been an encouragement to me also. I appreciate your prayers during these days of transition. May the Lord bring such love and care and blessings to you now.

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  7. These parts of your story go straight to my heart. The picking up, the laying down, the striving to give all of ourselves to God selflessly – and then God one day gives the dream we’ve given Him back. There’s so many things He’s growing with us – we’re a garden in which He plants multi-dimensional aspects of who we are and the tools we need. I, too, have found selfless prayer is the only way to heal hurts. You say, “He was the one who would bring His own life into things thought long dead.” – there’s so much hope in this! I see that God is a God who plans surprises! Ilook forward to reading your next post, Bettie!

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    1. Oh Maryleigh, truly He is such a merciful God who plans surprises! I am so amazed by the way He meets me in those hardest places of surrender, helping and bringing more of Himself right there. Everything I thinki can’t possibly surrender again, He brings just the help I need. I pray blessings of peace over you this month for your Birthday and Anniversary!

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    1. Thank you for your kind encouragement dear Cheryl. I am so grateful that we can look back, and the Lord shows us where He was so present and faithful along the way. Blessings and love to you today!

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      1. Yes, it reminds me of Elijah, when he was so afraid of Jezebel, and he thought he was the only one left who had not bowed the knee to Baal. God informed him that there were 7000 others of his countrymen who had not given in to this idolatry. We can be sure that God is still working in the lives of many, even when we feel isolated and don’t see it with our own eyes. 💖

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