What is the hardest part about being a Christian? For me, it is the necessary daily dying. The putting to death of sin and self. A laying down of my life - my own plans, my own timeline, and, occasionally, even my own dreams.
At times, God’s call to lay down my life seems more severe than others. Presently, I find myself in one of those hard seasons. However, as I cry out to the Lord, He keeps reminding me that without death there is no resurrection. Without pruning there is no abundant harvest.
This particular call to lay down my life began while my husband and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our ninth grandchild. We LOVE being grandparents! So, we couldn't wait to welcome our newest granddaughter into our lives.
As we waited, a gentle whisper echoed in my heart.
Will you watch her?
“But Lord, what about my ministries?”
Will you watch her?
"But Lord, what about my back?”
Will you watch her?
“But Lord, this is not part of my plan!”
I knew my daughter-in-law needed to return to work after her baby was born. Just like I knew God was inviting me to set aside MY ministry opportunities, MY worry about back problems, and MY own plans in order to help care for our brand new grandchild.
I wrestled with God for weeks before, finally, I was willing to lay down MY ministry, MY fears, and MY agenda to follow HIS will and purpose for this season.
Since then, God has done, and is doing, a major work of renewing my mind and transforming my heart.
The Lord has reminded me, the need is not the call. 20 years, ago, when my children were young, I found myself saying “yes” to nearly every ministry need and opportunity around me. That is, until a wise, white-haired, and gentle friend would call me to say, “Cathy, this is Annie. I’m just calling to remind you that the need is not the call. Don’t neglect to take care of your husband and children. That is your most important calling!”
Now, during this season of a lot less speaking, teaching and mentoring, I hear Annie’s words again. “Cathy, the need is not the call.” But this time, the call is to love and care for my precious little grandbaby, and help out her mommy and her daddy.
God is also revealing to me, His grace is sufficient for my day. Just as I feared, during my first full day of watching sweet baby M, my back went out. However, I was determined that if God had indeed called me to watch my little granddaughter, then He would have to give me the strength to do the job.
I took pain meds, sent out prayer requests, and prayed all day for the Lord to give me His grace and strength to care for my little charge. Miraculously, I made it through that day, as well as all the days since.
Then, the Lord used my oldest granddaughter to show me that He had called me, “For Such a Time as This.” You see, by the Spring, I’m embarrassed to admit, I was exhausted from watching our little bundle of love. So, I gently confessed to her mommy and daddy that I needed to watch her less often. But, in the days that followed, God made it clear that my “job” was not done. And just to confirm it, He woke me one morning to this verse, “Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for a friend.”
Soon after, God further clarified this message through my little Zo-girl. Not quite seven, she is old enough to know she needs to be careful about what she says, but not quite old enough to know what that looks like. “Grammy,” she confided, “I love both of my grandmas the same, but J (her little sister) loves Grandmommy the best.”
I cherished her childlike honesty. And, what she said was true; Her other grandma and little sister truly share a special bond. Yet, with sudden clarity, I understood that although many women can speak and teach and mentor, in this season, I am the woman who can help care for my youngest grandchild. In fact, I am the one who can be available to be a “mama” to my precious daughter-in-law, as we grieve the declining health of her own sweet mother, baby-M’s other grandma, to early onset Alzheimer's.
These revelations have rocked my world and changed my heart. The more the Lord reveals to me His eternal perspective and His kingdom focus, the more I am able to embrace the call of this season.
Naturally, I don’t have quite the stamina I did in my 20’s and 30’s. However, each day I am blown away as I experience, afresh and anew, His grace which is truly sufficient for my days.
And, thanks to my oldest grandchild, I have realized the great privilege and responsibility I have received "for such a time as this:" to love, encourage and pray for my precious daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
I know that my daily dying is insignificant compared to many. I have so much compassion for those who lay down their lives daily for special needs family members, or who lay down their lives to be foster to adopt parents, or those who literally lay down their lives to defend their faith before terrorists and terrorism. However, big or small, Jesus asks each one of us, His followers, to lay down our lives daily for each other, as well as to put to death our old sin nature and selfish motivations.
Dear Lord Jesus, please help us in this surrender of daily dying to sin, to self, and to our own selfish agendas. And Lord, in our daily dying, may we truly find life, life that is found in You alone!
"Then Jesus said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.'" Luke 9:23-24 NLT
For Further Study: 1 Peter 2:24; John 12:23-26; John 15:12-14; Romans 6:10-12; Romans 8:13; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 3:16-18; Colossians 3:5; Revelations 12:11; Philippians 2:5-9; Galatians 5:24 (Just a few to whet your appetite)