“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’”
Genesis 22:15-18 (The Message)
Last time we were together I spoke about the excitement I had driving to a leadership training at my church to learn how to lead a life group God invited me to write a year earlier. He gently reminded me of how far He has brought me in five short years since we first started attending our church and making it our home.
I attended the meeting and not two hours later, while driving home, the enemy tried to derail my enthusiasm. He tried to get me to question whether or not I really should be co-teaching.
During the meeting, I found out what day of the week the life groups normally are held on. It was only then I remembered the commitment our family has on Wednesdays in the spring – an activity that our youngest gets really excited about and trains for all year. In addition, this spring, our teenager decided to go out for a sport and we still didn’t know what day or days of the week those games would fall on.
Satan started a conversation with me while I was driving: “Maybe this isn’t the right time for you to lead a group. You are a mom and have responsibilities – maybe you need to wait until your children are grown before attempting this.”
“God tells you to keep family a priority. You could cause irreparable emotional damage to your children if you choose church over them. Do you really want to do that?”
“Maybe you didn’t hear God correctly. Maybe you aren’t supposed to co-lead a group. Who are you?”
While the enemy definitely got my mind thinking and my mom guilt working, I decided to pray then and there. I told God I loved Him first, over every other area of my life. I told Him I believed He wanted me to do this and I told Him I trusted Him with the schedule. I told Him it would hurt if I had to miss my kids’ activities this spring but I also knew that didn’t make me a bad mom. They had a dad who was involved and would again, “keep the house running smoothly.”
I got home and talked to my husband first. When I told him about the possible conflict, he seemed unconcerned. This wasn’t an emergency. I talked to our youngest next, thinking surely he would object if I wasn’t able to watch him participate in his once yearly race. His response went something like this: “You’ll be missed, Mom, but Dad will be there, right? That’s okay then.” And our other child still didn’t know what night of the week the games fell, so wasn’t worried either.
The next morning God confirmed my conversation with Him the night before through a devotional. It talked about Abraham being given the test to give up his son or not (did he love Isaac more than God Himself?) and then God giving him back Isaac when Abraham proved he loved God more.
It was then I realized – I have always loved my family fiercely. They all know how much I love them and I was being invited to show God through this choice whether or not I would prove through my actions that I did indeed love Him more.
I chose God. I turned in my application two days later, willing to commit to 8 weeks no matter what day of the week the life group fell on. I gave the decision to God. Then I waited, completely surrendered to God’s will.
Three days later, I received a phone call from the life group pastor letting me know my group was approved, details about the next steps and the day/time the group would be held. It was on the only day of the week that none of my children had any spring activities. God gave me the joy of co-leading a life group AND the joy of sharing the experiences with my kids too.
Our God is so good! One of many things I’ve learned in the past five years is how much He loves us. He doesn’t give us choices to punish us. Even choices that seem so hard – giving up addictions, choosing Him over other people or activities or jobs or (fill in the blank) aren’t given to punish us. He invites us to make choices because He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows that by putting Him first, our lives will be the best version possible. He also knows we have to willingly give our lives, all of our lives, over to Him in order for Him to be able to fully work and bring about the blessings He wants to give to each of His children.
God is amazing and He gets all the glory. He worked out my schedule so well before the life groups even started and then handpicked the perfect group of individuals to minister to for eight weeks as well.
#Caring for the Caregiver
© Cheri Swalwell 2018