Monday, July 13, 2009

Jim & Michele's Journey: Part 1 -From Brokenness To Wholeness

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me – now let me rejoice. Psalm 51:8

The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength. Proverbs 17:22
I have cried until the tears no longer come. My heart is broken, my spirit poured out, as I see what has happened to my people. Lamentations 2:11

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. 2 Corinthians 4:8

Main Entry: bro·ken Pronunciation: \ˈbrō-kən\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English brocen, from past participle of brecan to break
Date: 13th century
1: violently separated into parts : shattered2: damaged or altered by breaking: as a: having undergone or been subjected to fracture bof land surfaces : being irregular, interrupted, or full of obstacles c: violated by transgression d: discontinuous, interrupted e: disrupted by change fof a tulip flower : having an irregular, streaked, or blotched pattern especially from virus infection 3 a: made weak or infirm b: subdued completely : crushed, sorrowful c: bankrupt d: reduced in rank4 a: cut off : disconnected b: imperfectly spoken or written 5: not complete or full 6: disunited by divorce, separation, or desertion of one parent
— bro·ken·ly adverb
— bro·ken·ness \-kə(n)-nəs\ noun

My husband and I have been in some form of ministry for the past 35 years. Each time God would change our “calling” from one particular ministry to another it was always through much prayer, guidance from His Word and counsel from His people. Sometimes when God would change our ministry it would come about quickly; other times it was a long process of God preparing our hearts and the hearts of His people.

The past couple of years my husband and I have been dealing with God’s calling upon our lives. We have gone through so many personal crises in the past, but these past few years there have been so many that we were literally spiritually, emotionally, and physically broken, weary, and bewildered . In March of this year my husband asked our church for a sabbatical. Being bi-vocational, along with the personal crisis in our lives had taken its toll on Jim. As one of our elders said yesterday at church, “Before the sabbatical Jim was a broken man, today before us is a whole man.”

Let me just stop right here to say that it is so important that one seeks help before it gets this bad. But I know that so many times circumstances and denial can come into play before one finally crashes or gets thumped on the head by our loving heavenly Father.

Our leaders and church graciously granted my husband a three month sabbatical along with some of our vacation time that we had not taken over the past 12 years. For part of this time Jim still had to work at his job teaching school until it was finished for the school year in May. We then went on our journey back to Pennsylvania via our 25 year old motor home to perform the funeral service for my step-father who had passed away, and also assist my 86 year old mother. (To read more of our escapes, please see our Vacation Journal in my Directory of Resources on the left column of my blog).

It was a bittersweet homecoming for me personally. I have not lived in Pennsylvania for over 33 years. It has been 20 years since we even lived in the northeast (Upstate NY for 4 years); and over 6 years since I have been back east to visit my mother and family.

God had been preparing my heart for what is to come for the past 5 years. As most of you know I had been mostly homebound due to my chronic illnesses. In that time the Lord had revealed to me what is truly important in life. He had been showing me that I needed to slow down, take each new day as though it were my last. With that in mind, God truly put my life into perspective. God had called us into ministry, yes, but ladies, our first ministry is to our family. God, family, then everything else falls in behind. Unfortunately and shamefully, many times throughout our 35 years of marriage, our family trailed far behind many things. We thought that putting God first was the same as ministry, so we placed our ministry for many years above our family; all the while believing this was God’s will for our lives. I must also say that many years ago in seminary this was also taught as well. Fortunately through the years we realized this was wrong, but many times we would fall back into the performance trap of ministry and put ministry before our family. Shamefully old habits are hard to break. We are all a work in process! I’m so glad God is so patient, merciful and forgiving! “He’s still working on ME… to make me what I ought to be…. It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars… the Sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars… how loving and patient He must be…. He’s still working on ME!!!” (An old song we used to sing as family years ago).

The past few years have been such special years with my immediate family. We have grown so close and truly love, support, encourage, uplift, and pray for one another. In that aspect the past few years has been a blessing as well as a testing ground.

During our sabbatical and vacation God continued to work on both my husband and my hearts, all the while not knowing just how much God was also working on the hearts of our congregation as well.

Tune in tomorrow, as I continue to share our amazing transformation, along with the changes that God has called us to make our lives.

Brokenness: A Prelude to Revival
Put God First In Your Life


Denise said...

Looking forward to what God is doing in your life sweetie, love you.

Beth in NC said...

Oh, now what a tease to leave us hanging. :o) I can't wait to hear!

Debbie Petras said...

I decided I needed to read about what was going on, Michele. I'm sorry your husband and you had to get to that place but sometimes that's what it takes. God is at work in your lives.