Finding Strength Through Surrender
We all know the feeling of heartbreak: how it aches, how it ruins. How we long.
The year 2007 is what I often refer to as my “mountaintop.” My relationship with God was on fire, I had a loving Christian boyfriend, and I was heavily involved in ministry.
But I was also heavily involved in nursing school.
At the time, my boyfriend had decided to become a missionary. This was not my calling, but I realized I could definitely use my calling with him on the mission field.
Oh the nights I spent daydreaming about life as a missionary nurse! I read books, blogs, watched videos, talked to missionaries, and on and on. (When I set my mind to something, I like to give it one hundred percent.) We dreamed together, and it consumed most of our relationship.
Things became difficult because of the path I’d chosen for college. Nursing school happened to be stressful and anxiety-producing and completely time-consuming. It’s hard for anyone who is not in the world of medicine to understand that. Sometimes I was just plain tired. I could not live up to being a perfect Christian all the time, and definitely did not always have an impassioned missionary mindset while I was thinking about acid/base balances.
The inevitable came.
On a night with a normal date night planned, I watched him walk away. He left stating the obvious: I was not walking in my relationship with God as I should. It was clear I was no longer Christian wife material and I did not meet missionary criteria. The oppressive weight of judgment fell heavy on my heart.
My world spun around me, quite honestly. I mean, he was “the one,” I had assumed. I remember sobbing to the point I thought it would never end. All I could do was pray and wait in agony that God would restore the relationship so the future I’d planned so perfectly could once again be in my visual field. I was supposed to be married soon. I was supposed to be a nurse. I was supposed to be a nurse on the mission field in a restricted country so I could tell people about Jesus. I had prepared for this. I had dreamed of it.
My entire life shifted in one moment.
Have you ever been there? Maybe it was the sudden loss of a job, the sudden loss of a spouse, or a loved one. Maybe it was the loss of a dream, the loss of a home. We don’t really know how each of us experiences such losses since they are distinctly individual. The loss of a job could be as detrimental to someone as the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, multiple losses happen at once. It isn’t fair to compare, but it is okay to recognize that many of us walking around today have experienced serious wounds and deep heartbreak—and maybe even multiple heartbreaks.
I’ll save time by skipping the details of how discontentment can cause projection and leave ruin in its wake. I’ll skip the (life) lesson that someone else should not make the call of who you are in Christ, and I’ll definitely skip the details of how we have highs and lows in our relationship with God and we don’t always live up to perfection. That is why we have Christ.
But I will tell you how I fell into Jesus’s arms even though it was still heavy and hard.
After all the praying and seeking Him, I wrestled with so many questions. Was He really not good, after all? Was my future no longer secure in knowing what I was supposed to do? Was I going to graduate and be a nurse in a field I didn’t really want to be in when I just wanted to be on a mission field?
I was lost about my future. I was confused about God, confused about life and confused about faith. I did the only thing I’d been prepared to do: walk with God as closely as I could. My life became school… and studying the Lord’s promises to me. School… and journaling prayers. School… and reading the Psalms. I experienced a spiritual warfare in that time that I’ve never experienced since.
But during one of those nights as I read in Exodus, I cried thinking about how tenderly God had placed Moses in a basket to save him, then later in the cleft of the rock to see His glory. He was so tender, so tender with this sinner. I thought about how Moses asked to see His glory—how he longed for this encounter with God. Moses wasn’t perfect and did so many things wrong, but God cared for him so beautifully, giving him experiences no one else could take away.
That’s when I realized God had filled me up on that mountaintop to grow my trust and prepare me for the times I found myself in the valley.
I didn’t know it then, but those moments of basking in His light would carry over into many more difficult situations that blew this one out of the water. It was a holding fast to my Savior’s hand. A trust when I was blind in the dust storm. A strength that He gave in my weakest and most vulnerable moments of life. I didn’t have to know my future or plan every detail. I had been filled with so much of my own self that I didn’t have room for God’s richness.
My strength came in surrender—when I understood all I needed was His abundant presence and not my own.
The heartbreaks in life are real. You may be experiencing some of the worst moments you’ve ever had right now. You may have questions no one can answer, but picture God tenderly placing you under His wings. Imagine the shield He has placed around you. Let His merciful touch comfort you. And know that you can rest in His faithfulness, which will never, ever fail you.
Psalm 91:4 (ESV) “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Nina Hundley believes in the power of written words. She has been published in the medical community, various blogs, and The Joyful Life Community. She is a freelance developmental and copy editor for fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs. She writes with a heart focused on leaving a legacy and how to make choices in who we want to become. Nina publishes a monthly newsletter with book reviews and hope-filled content. She writes short stories of hope on her blog, and welcomes visitors to sign up at: www.NinaHundley.com
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