Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Series on Pause

Guys–I’m taking a break from my “They Were Called” series. It’s not necessarily finished, but I know if I write a post on it today (and maybe even if I do it next week) it will be forced and not inspired and, well, that would be a waste. I’ve really enjoyed studying some of these men and women who were called to do great things. Some got to do what they wanted, some were called to better, some were called to different. But they were all called by God. And God equipped them to fulfill their callings, even if the equipping sometimes meant allowing trials and difficulties in their lives. Like Hannah, who wouldn’t have been motivated to give Samuel over to God if not for her infertility, I like to think that I am being used by God in some way while I wait. I have more people I want to write about–Abraham (and Sarah), Joseph, Elizabeth–but I can’t do it justice today. So please forgive this “pause” on my series. I have other things to write, other things I want to focus on right now. But I will come back to this, God willing.

If you missed one of the posts in the series, you can access them all here or individually:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build

Episode 5: Jonah Liked His Way Better

Episode 6: Anna Proclaimed Christ

[And stay tuned for my next post to vote on a name for our new kitten.]


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Anna Proclaimed Christ

I’ve been trying to write today and nothing is working. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

I wanted to come and write about Anna. I believe her calling was something she never would have expected or imagined–especially as a young woman. And I still do want to write about her because I think her story is especially powerful. I also think it’s important to lift up a woman who God used for his glory even though she probably did not get what she initially wanted in life. Even though she likely did not have children. Even though her husband died after only seven years of marriage. I don’t know what Anna wanted out of life. I can’t know that. But it’s not far fetched to think she would have expected to settle down with her husband for life or to have several children.

And I think it is important to be reminded that sometimes God’s plans are going to take us somewhere we never would have picked or somewhere we never thought we’d go. I don’t know if that’s what happened to Anna, but from my perspective, knowing what I know about who I am and how I feel while I’m waiting, it makes sense. 

So I wanted Anna to be part of my series. Part of my series about people who were called but who faced adversity getting to where God wanted them to be. But Anna doesn’t quite fit. And so this Monday is a post that doesn’t quite fit. And I just don’t feel up to rounding out the corners and smoothing it in and pretending it belongs where it doesn’t.

Apologies if that’s confusing for anyone . . .

So Anna: She was one of the first witnesses to proclaim Jesus as savior. She was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought their 40-day-old baby to be presented, and she knew who he was when she saw him. We don’t know a lot about Anna. The Biblical account of her is only three verses long. It tells us a lot about her character, a little about her heritage, and next to nothing about the man she married or the children she may or may not have had. Anything outside of these verses is conjecture or inference, so take what I write with a grain of salt. Unlike David–whose life story could fill pages without any embellishment to the Biblical account–Anna’s moment in recorded history is just that: a moment.

And there [in the temple] was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was 84 [or, for 84 years, depending on how you translate the Greek]. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour [as Jesus was being presented], she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).

Apparently, many people take that last part–“to speak of him”–as an indication that she went around Jerusalem proclaiming the good news of the awaited Messiah’s birth. This would make her the first evangelist of the gospel–though more of a prophet of the Messiah than a recounting of what had been done, since Jesus was still an infant at the time.

Anna was very old–either 84 or over 100 depending on how you translate the verse–but apparently in good health. She could see, she could speak clearly, and she was able to move around well enough. And she offers this beautiful picture of a woman who walked closely enough with God as to recognize when she was in his presence. While Jesus was yet an infant, she recognized who he was.

She also offers us a model of devotion in the midst of tragedy.

Anna lost her husband after seven years of marriage–I personally think marriage without children–and she responded by dedicating herself wholly to God. As a young widow, she had every right to remarry. No one would have thought a thing about it if she’d found a new husband. I can imagine many friends and family members eagerly trying to connect her with this or that eligible bachelor.

We don’t know why she didn’t marry again. Did she not find the right man? Was she not sought after? Or did she know this was simply not God’s plan for her life? Either way, we see no sign of bitterness in Anna. No sign of grief. No sign of mourning. After up to 84 years as a widow, she has not only worked through any disappointment, but she has rooted herself in God, depending on him, trusting him, and giving herself completely to him.

I wonder how often she may have mediated on Isaiah 54:4-5:

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Either way, God had a plan for her life. And I can’t imagine that her life went as she may have imagined it. But I take comfort–and perhaps she did too–in knowing that God knew it all before hand. He wanted her to be where she was and when she was so she would know him. And he wants the same for me.

And he [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Thanks be to God for loving me enough to put me in my circumstances and to draw me unto himself.

This is {kind of} episode 6 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I am posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build

Episode 5: Jonah Liked His Way Better


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Jonah Liked His Way Better

So, my mom and grandmother are here this week! I’m so excited they traveled all the way from St. Louis to see me. Since they’re here, I prepared this post, on Jonah, a few days ago. I probably won’t be able to blog again until next Monday’s installment of this series, but look for more from me next week!

~~~

I had a dream a few nights ago. DH and I were in a remote swamp. It was unlike any place I’ve ever seen in real life—the kind of scene that might show up in a movie or one of those reality shows about people who live deep in the wilderness lowlands. There we were, filthy and just sitting around in the mud. Weak waves kept washing up on the bank of some murky body of water, and time after time they deposited what I can only describe as manna on the shore.

The “manna” appeared in different forms, like marzipan animals and homemade cookies. It was a melt-in-your-mouth kind of delicacy. The kind of rare treat that makes you happy deep down in your being. When I woke up, I had a message in my mind. I distinctly felt God was saying that as long as I still want my own way, I’m not trusting him.

When I told DH this great insight that had been revealed to me in my sleep, he looked at me funny and accused me of stating the obvious. And maybe it seems obvious to you, too. But it hit me. I keep saying I trust God, and then I keep asking him, “Please, oh please, can’t we just do it this way?”

Which brings us to Jonah. Jonah made no bones about his dislike for God’s plan. When God told him to preach to Nineveh, he didn’t just refuse to go, he hopped a boat in the exact opposite direction. Have you been there, too? At the heart of his disobedience was the same sin I struggle with: A belief that his way and his ideals were better than God’s.

While Jonah wanted the Ninevites doomed to destruction, God wanted them to repent and turn to him. If it had been up to Jonah, they wouldn’t have had a chance at rescue. But it wasn’t.

We saw in Moses that sometimes God calls us to do things we don’t really want to do. Moses didn’t feel equipped to answer God’s call. He didn’t question God’s desire to rescue the Israelites from their Egyptian masters, simply God’s determination of who would represent the rescuer. While Moses’ cries of “please pick someone else” can be chalked up to his great humility, it’s hard to find any virtue of Jonah’s that even begins to justify his willful disobedience.

The book of Jonah starts with his call:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2).

Sometimes I find myself hoping for such a clear call. But what if, like Jonah, I hear something I didn’t want to hear? Would I do as Jonah does?

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).

The story that follows is commonly told to children. A storm comes up and ultimately Jonah is thrown overboard to satisfy God and save the ship. Jonah, in fact, tells the crew to throw him into the sea. It seems he would rather die than do as God has commanded. But God isn’t going to let him off that easily: he provides a great fish that swallows Jonah. Jonah resides in its belly for three days and nights.

We can safely surmise that Jonah isn’t having a good week. And when you’ve hit rock bottom—or the innards of a fish—isn’t it only natural to turn to the only one who can pull us out of the deepest pit?

That’s what he does. He prays to God. He calls out to God and thanks him for providing rescue. And even then, I think, he tries to make a case for why he did what he did. He says, “Those who cling to worthless idols [like the Ninevites] turn away from God’s love for them” (Jonah 2:8).

“But,” he says, “I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord’” (2:9).

In modern vernacular: “God, those Ninevites who prefer idols over you and your love don’t deserve to be saved. But, even though I don’t want to, I will sacrifice my desires to yours. I’ll do what you want, I’ll tell them how they can be saved, and I’ll praise you all the while.”

He seems noble in this moment, right? But still a little bit unsurrendered. There’s still that “I don’t like it, but I’ll do it” tone, isn’t there? Oh man, I keep seeing more of me in Jonah than I care to admit.

So, “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (2:10). Gross, right?

And Jonah preaches to the Ninevites. And Lo! They believed God. They start moping about, showing their repentance. They fast. They dress in sackcloth—from the king down to the animals (yep, even the animals had to wear that itchy stuff). And the king announces, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (3:8b-9).

They don’t try to justify their evil behavior. They don’t moralize their way out of recognizing their sin. They just repent. The “evil” Ninevites offer us a better example of repentance than God’s own prophet. And God does indeed relent.

So, Jonah is called to prophesy. He runs away. He relents and does what God told him. And he’s fully learned through his traumatizing fish-belly experience that God’s plans are greater and better than his, right?

Let’s see: “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity’” (4:1-2).

Fail. Jonah is again justifying his earlier disobedience. I guess it’s a good thing for him that what he says about God is true: God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love–even to Jonah. But God points out, and then shows Jonah in a way that we can only hope does get through, that he doesn’t have any right to be angry about what happened.

It’s easy to look at Jonah and say, “Man, that guy really messed up.” But then I have to look at myself and say, “Man, this girl really messes up.” And that’s not quite as fun as critiquing Jonah.

Jonah’s calling was straightforward, but he ran away from it. He didn’t want to go through with what God asked him. His challenges in accomplishing his call were pretty much entirely his own doing. Is God calling you to do something that you’ve been putting off? Have you been running away from God?

I have. I’ve felt the call to apply to seminary for several years. And I’ve made excuses and tried to push it behind me and pretended like maybe that’s not really what God wanted.

No more excuses. I’ve said it before, but I’m applying this year. If God wants me to go to seminary, I’ll go next fall … or whenever he desires, I guess. I don’t fully understand why or fully agree that this is what I should be doing. My plan is different. My plan is to have babies and stay home with them and maybe go to seminary when they are grown. But I guess it’s time to give up my plan and really put my trust in God. And, trusting God means choosing his plan over mine.

This is episode 5 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I am posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build


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Noah Chose to Build

So, yesterday was Monday, and instead of writing for my series, I spent the day in bed. The first stomach flu I’ve had in my married life struck early Sunday morning, and DH was a dear caretaker all day on Sunday (which, sadly, involved pulling the car over more times than either of us would like to count at short notice on our 5-hour drive home form Dallas). And Monday, while my stomach behaved better, a headache and serious lack of energy kept me away. Better late than never, I figure, so here goes:

~~~

God called Noah to a special purpose in a time when “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God saw how wicked man had become and determined that he would wipe all flesh from the earth—man and animals alike.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8).

While God was filled with sorrow over the humans he had created, he found one man’s family worth sparing from destruction. Through Noah, God would offer salvation to the species he had created. It was an earthly salvation—a continuation of life—not the salvation that we would later be offered through God’s own son. But a salvation of sorts. And Noah and his ark make an interesting, though imperfect, analogy for Jesus and the cross.

Like Enoch before him, who “walked with God and was no more,” Noah also walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Sometime in their walks together, God let Noah in on his plan to wipe out the wicked while sparing Noah and his sons and their wives.

The plan involved a lot of work on Noah’s part. God provided the directions, but Noah had to make a choice to follow through. Presumably, if God told you to do something to save yourself and your family from certain death you’d be all ears, too. But don’t think Noah just happened to hear God. He made himself available to hear what God had to share with him.

That hits close to home for me. How often am I available to hear what God might want to tell me? How often am I open to hearing his call in my life or his words spoken to my heart? Oh sweet friends, I wish I were always open to hearing. Mostly I’m doing all the talking—and little listening.

So, God directs Noah to build a massive boat, an ark. And Noah does it. God tells Noah he is going to flood the whole earth at a time when rain has never fallen on the planet. The rains of the flood are the first rains from the heavens. Prior to the flood, the ground had been watered by a mist that sprang up from the ground (Genesis 2:5-6).

The Sunday school version of Noah and the Ark devotes at least one chapter to all the wicked people making fun of Noah while he works on this massive boat. Did this happen? Maybe. It’s not in the Bible. But we do know that Noah was preaching to the people in these days (2 Peter 2:5). And we know the people clearly weren’t interested, as we have no indication that any repented. Since he was building a massive floating vessel, it seems plausible that people would have thought Noah was off his rocker and told him so. But this is embellishment.

Either way, it seems clear the task was no picnic. While somehow providing for his entire family, Noah also builds the ark. He then stocks the ark with all of the animals in appropriate numbers (a pair of every unclean animal, seven pairs of all clean animals) and plenty of food for everyone to eat. It’s not clear how long it took Noah to build the ark, but in a time before sawmills and hardware stores, we can assume it took quite a while. Did Noah’s family help? Were they even supportive? We don’t know. But either way, Noah “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).

Everybody got on board and God closed the door (Genesis 7:16).

And as the children’s song goes, “The rains came down and the floods came up.” All told, Noah and his family and the animals spent 40 days in the boat while it rained, an additional 150 days on the boat while “the waters prevailed upon the earth,” 40 more days after the ark struck land in the Ararat mountains, a few more weeks, then a couple more days and finally God told them they could get off the boat. Math has never been my strong suit, and I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the Hebrew calendar, but based on what other people have calculated from the Genesis account, they were on that boat for 364-370 days. That’s a long time afloat.

Did the boat stink? Was everybody getting on each other’s nerves? Did they run out of their favorite snacks halfway through and have to subsist the remainder of the time on less appealing veggies? Did they tire of not knowing day from night for the gloom and rain those first 40 days?

Yet when Noah steps off the boat, he builds an altar to God. It’s the first thing he does.

Noah’s calling was straightforward, and surely God assisted in more than just directions (how else could he have gathered the animals?), but that doesn’t mean it was easy. He had to be available to listen to God. He had to devote serious time and energy to following God’s directions. And he had to choose to do God’s will at any cost. By building the ark, Noah showed that he was willing to leave his present behind him and move forward into a new, unpopulated world. He showed that he valued his relationship with God above any worldly possessions, and his family and their safety above his own leisure. Noah is in the line of Jesus because, well, how could he not have been? But without Noah’s obedience, the human race is lost long before Jesus’ birth.

Noah offers several reminders:

  1. We should strive always to walk with God, making ourselves available to hear his call and directions, even if (especially if) this means distancing ourselves from the world and its moral codes.
  2. God will give us choices, and when he asks us to do something we can choose to obey or not. Obedience is the better way, even when it’s challenging.
  3. God might have a bigger story in mind than we can see (It’s not all about me). Noah knew God planned to destroy all flesh except that which escaped on the ark. But we can’t know if Noah saw the big picture—God’s ultimate salvation of the world through his son. Without Noah’s obedience, was all lost for mankind?
  4. God equips the called. No one had built such a vessel before the ark. No one, as far as we know, had corralled animals in such a way. But God gave Noah the directions and the ability to accomplish what he asked him to do. God didn’t give Noah an impossible task—nothing is impossible for God and Noah walked with God.
  5. During and after the storm: Thanks be to God. Always.

In our callings, let us remember that whatever obstacles we face are not impossible to God. And if God has called us, he will make a way. Praise God! But we must continually listen to hear what God’s word is to us and what he has called us to do, lest we miss the blueprints.

This is episode 4 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I will usually be posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord


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Hannah Took It to the Lord

Today happens to be the first anniversary of my blog. When I started this blog, I am sure I expected to have a child by now. Instead, we are still waiting for our miracle pregnancy. But while our outward circumstances have not changed, we have grown and matured in our trial. We have felt God’s peace. We have wavered but not fallen. We have waited expectantly and waited reluctantly. And we are learning to trust, to relinquish fear and worry in favor of reliance on God and faith in his goodness.

So it seems fitting that today is the day I said I would write about Hannah’s calling.

One of the things that strikes me about Hannah is that her calling was more than she probably thought or ever realized. God uses her story to give hope to so many others who know the pain of infertility, the pain of longing for an answered prayer. Surely the example she sets is one part of her calling from the Lord. Being a role model, having “fame” in this way, is not something she would have expected or asked for, but her life has been used by God for our good and his glory over and over.

What we see as our calling may be only a small part of what God has truly called us to do. 

But I’m jumping ahead.

Hannah’s husband was a man who loved her. Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not. Each year, Elkanah would take his family to make sacrifices at the temple. Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion of meat because he loved her, but Peninah mocked Hannah because Hannah was barren. [Mocked? And to think I get so upset at “just adopt” and “just relax” from well-meaning, albeit ignorant, fertile folks.]

We never see Hannah retaliate. But she does grieve. She grieves and she refuses to eat. In an effort to comfort her, Elkanah asks, “Aren’t I worth more to you than ten sons?” Ah, but the pain of infertility is so great. [Thank you, God that DH understands and is struggling with me.] Hannah, though loved, is really alone in her grief.

I wonder what she thinks about. Does she wonder, as I have wondered, why God would give her the desire to be a mother without the children to bear that out? Does she feel a lack of purpose, a lack of meaning without children? Did she dream of motherhood as a girl? Was raising children something she looked forward to?

One year, while they are in Jerusalem to make their sacrifices to the Lord, Hannah goes to the temple and prays. In her prayer, she shows that God is gracious to hear us. He listens to our needs. And we are right and justified to ask him for that which we long for. The Bible says, “And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor shall ever be used on his head.” (I Samuel 1:11)

Eli, the priest, who watches her as she prays, wrongly assumes she is drunk and confronts her. Upon finding that she is praying, he says, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1:17)

Hannah does go in peace: “Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” (1:18b)

So, Hannah feels called to be a mother. Year after year goes by and she remains childless. Her husband’s other wife (who Melanie has [sweetly] speculated he may have married only because Hannah was barren–I encourage you to read her post) not only has children but regularly mocks Hannah for her barrenness. Her husband loves her but doesn’t understand her pain and, essentially, urges her to just be happy with what she has. Hannah doesn’t give up. She places her hopes before the Lord, seeking his help because he alone can provide what she longs for. After pouring her heart out to God, she leaves with peace. Even while her circumstances are unchanged, her countenance is different.

Oh how I praise the Lord for providing us with peace–however tenuous it may sometimes seem–in the midst of this heartache. I look back at the past year and see that I am different than I was at the beginning of this journey. I am changed for the better–though my circumstances remain largely unchanged.

This isn’t the end of the story for Hannah. She does bear a son. She calls him Samuel. And she fulfills her vow. After Samuel is weaned, she takes him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. She leaves him there.

I cannot even imagine! Hannah receives the blessing of a son, but she is with him for only a very short time. She will now see him just once a year when Elkanah brings his family to the temple. Upon leaving Samuel at the temple this first time, Hannah lifts up praises to God for the answered prayer.

Samuel becomes the final judge of Israel. He is a prophet and God speaks to him. He anoints the first two kings of Israel under God’s direction. Hannah’s faithfulness and prayer were key to God’s story for his people Israel.

And God is gracious to Hannah in her faithfulness. She goes on to have three more sons and two daughters (I Samuel 1:21).

Hannah: Called to be a mother. And called to set an example for us in prayer and praise, in being genuine before the Lord. She waited years to be able to fulfill her calling.  Without that wait, the pain, and heartache, would Samuel have been dedicated to the Lord? Would we know that we can pour out our hearts in agony and grief to God while asking for specific requests? God had a plan and a purpose in giving Hannah her deep-seated desire to be a mother. And I trust he has a plan and a purpose for each of us in the midst of our difficulties, our trials, our insecurities.

So we keep turning to him.

This is episode 3 of my “They Were Called” series. To see episode 2, about Moses and the calling he didn’t want, click here. To see episode 1, about David and his calling, click here. For the introduction to the series, click here. Join me next Monday for episode 4.


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Moses Looked to the Reward

The time of Moses’ birth was a difficult period for the Jewish people. They were enslaved in Egypt, and Pharaoh, afraid that the Hebrews were becoming too populous, decreed that all male Jewish infants should be killed at birth. The story of how Moses ended up adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter is one we tell the youngest children in Sunday school. It’s a lovely story: The baby that should have been killed is discovered floating in a basket and catches the eye of the Pharaoh’s daughter. He is raised in the palace and his own mother is brought in to be his nurse. He grows up with an understanding of his culture and heritage, but he also grows up in a king’s family.

Moses’ rescue of his people from slavery is another popular Sunday school story. It sounds exciting, even thrilling. Moses is called to save his people and to bring them to the land God had promised hundreds of years earlier to their ancestors.

And so the difficulty starts. First of all, Moses doesn’t want the job. His first response when God speaks to him from a burning bush is to make a series of excuses, ultimately ending in Exodus 4:13 by saying, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

This part really hits home for me as we’re dealing with infertility. I don’t want to be infertile. I want a normal family-building trajectory. I want to have a baby whose first birthday we should have recently celebrated. But, whether I will ultimately be a mother or not, I cannot deny that I have been called to go through infertility at this time.

It also hits me because I’ve been considering what I should do with myself lately. Part of me feels like pursuing anything other than motherhood would indicate that I am giving up on that dream. That wrestling match is a subject for another post. And lately, I have been feeling like I need to look into adoption more seriously. I don’t know that we are called to adopt, but I do know that right now it’s not what I want to be called to do. I’ve mentioned some of my reservations about adopting before. And if we end up going that route it will only be because the Lord has done a mighty work to change my heart on the issue. Nonetheless, I have been feeling compelled to look into it.

So I feel like I can really relate to Moses here. He gets a calling he doesn’t want. That is the beginning of his hardship.

From that despised calling, we see Moses suffer even more. He had difficulty with the Israelites from day one. It makes no difference that God shows them again and again that he is faithful. It makes no difference that they walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. It makes no difference that God’s very presence accompanies them day and night. The Israelites like to whine.

Moses is called to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. And because of their—shall we say misbehavior?—their journey is extended by 40 years. He had to be feeling so close! But no, not finished yet.

Moses is called to show the Israelites how to be God’s people. I can’t blame him for not relishing that task!

And ultimately, because of Moses’ own pride or lack of trust, he does not get to join the people in the Promised Land when they finally get there. He dies on a mountain top instead.

At one point, when the Israelites are whining for Moses to give them meat to eat, see Moses’ response to God:

Where am I going to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness” (Numbers 11:13-15).

These are the words of a distressed and desperate man.

His calling wasn’t all bad, of course. Throughout his life, Moses spoke with God. He met with the Lord all. the. time. He delivered the law to the people. He is credited with putting the oral history of the Jewish people into writing. And he was permitted to see God. What glory! What wondrous grace!  

And where would we be without Moses? He is remembered as a man of great faith. His mention in Hebrews 11, often referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” encompasses seven full verses, including,

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11: 24-26).

And so I am reminded of a few things:

  1. I don’t know the full story God has planned.
  2. I should trust God with my life, even if he is calling me to something other than motherhood.
  3. I should be looking to the reward.
  4. The road isn’t always easy.

This is episode 2 of my “They Were Called” series. To see episode 1, about David and his calling, click here. For the introduction to the series, click here. For episode 3, about how Hannah had to wait to fulfill her calling, click here.


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David Asked, “How Long O Lord?”

Months ago I introduced what I planned to make my first blog series. And then I never even wrote the first article in the series. Oops. So for that, “This is my first blog series. We’ll see how it goes” comment in the intro article, we can go ahead and conclude that it didn’t go well. It didn’t go at all. 

But I didn’t forget it. And this time I’m doing it right. I hope.

The crux of that introductory post was that being called to do something doesn’t mean it will be easy. I find this idea comforting as we deal with infertility. When we first received our diagnosis, I questioned my calling. Am I not supposed to be a mother?

Today, I will say I don’t know what I am called to be. But I do know I desire to be a mother. And I do know that simply facing hardship along the way does not indicate that I am not supposed to have children of my own. I know that’s true, because there are plenty of people in the Bible who are clearly called to do specific things but face great difficulty getting to their objectives. For the next several Mondays, I’ll be writing about some of these biblical people and the challenges they faced on the way to becoming who God called them to be.

I’m starting this series with David. I chose to begin with David for a few reasons:

  • His calling is indisputable. As the anointed (read: chosen) king of Israel, there can be no doubt that God fully intended for David to be king.
  • His hardship is indisputable. David spent years of his life hiding from King Saul (who wanted to kill him). He was apart from his family. He had to spend time living among his enemies. And he documented his hardship in the Psalms, so we can be sure that David wasn’t hanging out in those caves thinking, “Yeah—this is the life.
  • It’s difficult to find meaning in his hardship. Sometimes we face difficulties in life that the perspective of time helps us see were for our good. We can look back at what we’ve been through and see that it was good that things didn’t go the way we wanted when we wanted. We can see that we’ve grown from certain hardships. Or we can see that the path we ended up taking because of a challenge was a better path, the path we were supposed to take.
    But sometimes we can’t see why things happened the way they did. We may not know the value or reason for such hardships until we get a chance to ask God himself. When we look at the hardships David endured, it’s not like we can say, “Good thing he spent all those years of his life suffering and on the run from King Saul. Because of that hardship he was a better king.” Maybe he was better for it. The fact is, we don’t know.
    It is nice to have the Psalms, to see how we can cry out to God when we are in agony—so that’s a benefit to us of David’s hardship. But who knows how David saw his hardship or what he learned from it. Did he ever look back and take delight in his most dire circumstances and how they shaped him? Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t.
  • David is rewarded for his faithfulness. Despite facing such challenging circumstances, David continues to trust God and to serve God throughout his life. He doesn’t turn against God when his circumstances are difficult or unbearable. And he speaks honestly to God about what he is feeling. He sets an example for us. He is a sinner, and he suffers for it. But he also finds forgiveness in God’s mercy. He has a heart after God’s own heart. And it is through David’s line that God chooses to bring the Messiah. Jesus is the ultimate king from the line of David. And David is honored by having a place in Christ’s lineage. 

This is an aside, but I think it applies as we try to discern God’s calling in our lives: When David volunteered to fight Goliath, he was a young boy. King Saul initially tells him he is too young to fight. After Saul finally consents in I Samuel 17:37, “Then Saul gave David his own armor–a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. ‘I can’t go in these,’ he protested to Saul. ‘I’m not used to them.’ So David took them off again.” (I Samuel 17:38-39) You see, we can’t wear someone else’s armor. We can’t try to be like someone else. We are who God created and called us to be. Trying to be someone else will only wear us down or wear us out, as David would have been as a boy in a man’s armor. To triumph in the battles we face, we have to be true to who we are.

I could go into great detail about how—and how long—David suffered, but I don’t think that’s necessary (for more on David’s life, see I and II Samuel and many of the Psalms). But David’s Psalms of suffering serve as examples to us to help us voice our pain and desperation to God when we face hardships of many kinds. I leave you with Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

~~~

For the second episode in this series, on Moses, click here.