My husband, Richard, worked at a factory job for nearly two decades. A part of him — the vibrant part that drew me to him in the beginning — was fading. I encouraged him to move from this job that paid well but robbed him of his personality and energy. When he didn’t, I grew impatient. Then there were the moments when I was just sad.
There were physical implications to standing on concrete for twelve hours at a time, but the shift work messed with Richard’s well-being. This was the change most evident after years of working in the plant. My gregarious husband fell into silence. His theory was that if he opened his mouth, the way he felt inside might escape and affect his family.
I wanted to fix Richard. I wanted to make him leave his job because I was ready for it. I wanted to entice him with smiles and silliness to make him laugh again when he felt like doing anything but.
One night I lay in bed while tears ran down my face. I loved this guy with everything I had in me and I wasn’t going anywhere, but I missed the man I married.
I don’t know why nighttime is when God and I meet most often; perhaps it’s the only time he has my total attention. But Jesus walked into my sadness. I felt him asking me to believe that fixing or manipulating wasn’t the answer, and that there was a plan for Richard.
More so, that plan might not look like mine. It might not take place at the rate I thought it should.
Was I willing to trust?
Yes — and no. There’s a hushed and holy place inside believers where we instinctively understand that God is leading us in one direction or another. But not far away are emotions that shout, “Just fix it. Don’t make me push out in deeper water. Make this easy for me. Do it, God!”
Which would I choose?
I placed my hands over my husband’s sleeping body as tears soaked my pillow.
I’m willing to believe.
I didn’t know that Richard would leave the factory job months later. I had no idea that we’d sell our home and almost everything we owned to pay tuition as he finished his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and completed clinical supervisory hours to become a licensed therapist. I didn’t know that the man I married would return to me and that his funky dance moves would entice me to laugh — and that I would happily join in.
This is often the hardest part of trusting Jesus.
There’s no blueprint. There’s no peek at the final product. Jesus’ disciple, Simon Peter, was asked to live moment by moment and day by day, walking with Jesus. The “rock” that Peter became was honed and carved each time he whispered the words, “But if you say so” (Luke 5:4-5).
It’s not an it-all-works-out-in-the-end guarantee, but an experience of relationship and trust.
We are changed in the same manner. It’s not an it-all-works-out-in-the-end guarantee, but an experience of relationship and trust. We listen, and if it is God’s voice, we respond even when we’re not sure of the outcome.
A year after Richard left his job, his body adjusted to normal hours and unrestricted sleep. Vibrant color returned to his personality. He started running. First a mile, then two, then eventually five or six miles each time. This is where I started to see all the pieces falling into place. My guy was his old self. Our marriage became a source of joy once again — normal, but normal was beautiful. Richard moved from an internship at the drug and alcohol center to an official position in a counseling agency.
We had pushed out in deeper waters and it all worked out.
Except . . . Jesus didn’t stop asking us to push out into deeper waters. In my life, there was a second time and a third, then more after that, and they keep coming. Not all of our deeper-water experiences can be tied into tidy testimonials.
Our encounters with Jesus as his disciples become less about the end destination and more about the invitation to trust him, wherever that leads, whatever he asks us to do. For Jesus meets us where we are with one plan in mind: to change us forever.
Accept the invitation. It’s okay to acknowledge your doubts, for that’s what you do in any healthy relationship — you’re honest when you’re not sure how it’s all going to work out. But this is where change takes place.
Say “yes” where “no” wants to take root.
Excerpted from Come With Me by Suzanne Eller. Copyright © 2016. Used with permission of Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.
Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is the ECPA bestselling author of The Mended Heart and a popular blogger (www.tsuzanneeller.com). Suzie is with Proverbs 31 Ministries as a writer and speaker, and serves on the P31 International Initiatives team to partner with and reach women across the globe. Her message is to encourage women to live fully and free in their faith and every aspect of their lives. Suzie and her husband, Richard, live in Arkansas.
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