Friday, February 1, 2008

Ministry ... God's calling of us!

I've been corresponding over the last year with a dear friend from college.  I've been blessed by her prayers and encouragment and thankful to have her as a sweet part of my life.  One of the things we have been talking about is purpose and God's calling on our lives.  Both of us are searching and talking with God about what exactly it is He is calling us to do.

She shared with me a portion from a friend's carepages that I wanted to share with you.  This was written by a Mom who has recently lost her 13 yo daughter to cancer.  It was an aggressive and quick illness.  My friend notes that through it all this dear sister has been an encouragment to keep our eyes on God.  I know that her words encouraged me and I hope that they will you too.

God's timing is always perfect and this was no exception. I have been studying the life of Elijah. Today, I focused on I Kings 18 where Elijah had to challenge Ahab to determine which god was the strongest...God or Baal. Elijah's ministry was not his idea but God's. He did not come up the idea and then ask God to bless it. He was simply walking w/God and obeying what God had told him to do.

Later in the morning, John (her husband) came to me and said "we have a new ministry and I do not like it." He was referring to our new ministry of helping parents cope when they lose a child. Right now we can hardly cope ourselves, however, we know the day will come when someone will need our support which will be unmatched by others who have not walked this path. John did not realize I had studied the passage earlier in the day which followed exactly his thoughts. John and I did not sit in a chair and raise our hand acting like an anxious student saying "oh, oh, oh, pick me, pick me, pick me!" You know the scene to which I am referring. We never asked for this ministry.

What I learned from Elijah was that true ministry is initiated by God, which means it is received, not achieved. A God-initiated ministry comes only through following God in a relationship of dependence. We have no say in the gifts God gives us. We must use whatever He gives us and follow Him.

The ministry I envisioned was that Ashley would be completely healed on this side of heaven and I was going to take her on tour to visit the youth groups who had been praying for her so that the kids could see a walking miracle of God. Instead, He chose to completely heal her on the other side and allow her life to impact the world. It is up to John and I to continue to walk closely w/God and to do the work He has called us to do...even with huge broken hearts!

Colossians 4:17 "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."

I know that I identify with the vision of ministry that she describes.  I was content in the ministry opportunities that I had - ones that I had "signed up" for voluntarily.  I did not want a new ministry.  I saw a friend (that I haven't seen in awhile) earlier this week and as we talked she said that she remembered me saying before Eliana was born that I didn't think I could handle being the mom of a special needs child.  She also said that she told her Sunday school about me when she was talking about God's grace in watching all that unfolded after Eliana was born.  That blessed me incredibly!

I know that I had friends tell me shortly after Eliana was born that "I would have a story to tell".  I also remember thinking - and perhaps saying - that I didn't *want* a story to tell.  Guess my heart was pretty hard about it all, huh?

Well, I think I'm becoming more comfortable with this new ministry.  I called my OB office this week and said that I would love to be a contact for anyone with an ultrasound screen of Down syndrome or that has had a child born with Down syndrome.  They seemed really excited at the idea of having me as a contact.  I know that there are a lot of negative misperceptions about having a special needs child and if I can help encourage someone in any way, I would count it a privilege.

I am also being given another opportunity to tell Eliana's story.  This time it will be during Duke Children's hospital's Radioathon fundraiser.  I'll be interviewed (with Eliana) on Valentines Day.  They liked the heart connection for that day.  I'm not sure what I'll be sharing, but hopefully it will be a message of hope and encouragment.

Rebecca may be making another donation on that day as well.  If any of you are interested in helping with her sales, please email me.  As of now, she doesn't have a large amount to donate (compared to the fall) so I'm not sure if that will happen or not.

Thank you friends for walking this path with us.  I'm thankful to be on this road.