By Ashley Veneman
I’m sitting at my computer on a Monday afternoon and my Missional Motherhood submission is due today. That’s right ladies – today! My intention was to send it all off this morning, but an unexpected power surge in our neighborhood left our house in the dark for a few hours. When the lights flickered back to life this afternoon, I started up the computer, clicked on the Word document, and watched as the page opened to a fraction of the content I had written this past week – almost everything – deleted!
Side note: It’s sort of like that moment in college where you lost half the term paper you labored on for weeks. (If you never lost a term paper in college, you are blessed! I can still remember every detail of a night sitting in my dorm room on the phone with an IT guy trying desperately to recover pages of a Mass Communication research paper corrupted by some college internet virus. None of it was recovered. NONE OF IT – but no – I’m not bitter.)
So here I am, sitting at my computer, dark chocolate in hand (you know, to eat my feelings), and a resolve to restart the words that are so important to me in the season we have been living. The act of writing things down is a way to give honor to lessons learned and moments that have become holy. Perhaps the Lord just wanted me to write it down twice so it would sink in deeper still. So here we go – take two!
Our summer started off great. It was a typical season of things to look forward to and long days where the kids could play outside, eat popsicles, and ride their bikes. Everything was going just fine.
You hear about those mountaintop moments in life, but sometimes you don’t realize you’re in the middle of one until you plummet into a valley. All of a sudden, things change, and you just wish for the mundane, glorious moments you took for granted just days before.
We are coming out of a valley month. Nothing catastrophic that cannot be healed, fixed, or recovered from, but a month where every time the phone rang, we seemed to have some sort of terrible news on the other end of it. From health issues, doctors’ visits, job uncertainties, unexpected bills, both cars breaking, friends moving, friends getting sick, and loved ones passing away – within a span of several short days my husband and I sat looking at one another in the living room one night desperate for the dark cloud to lift. It was unbelievable the amount of “bad” that had come rushing in and the timing in which it all happened.
We were both spending time with the Lord, and praying for God’s help, while asking a few friends and family members to join us in the effort. Most of my prayers went something like this, “God, you’ve got to help us! We don’t know what to do!” There’s nothing wrong with prayers like these – nothing at all – but I was praying as a defeated victim, and if I’m honest, I was questioning God’s ability and resolve to intervene in our lives. “God – would you please? God – can you do something here? God – do you see us?”
After a week of exhaustion, that was escalating to panic, I was sitting in the living room watching my kids on the swing set outside. The phone rang and I looked down to see a number I didn’t recognize. I let it go to voicemail. Was it probably a sales call? – Yes. Is that why I didn’t answer? – No. I stared at the blank phone screen and the tears started rolling down my face – not a slow drizzle, but a flood – a flood of fear. I was paralyzed. The circumstances around me had become giants swelling out of proportion. In a rare moment of quiet in our house, I sat in the stillness and begged God to show up.
In the hush, lyrics I had heard on the radio that week came to mind:
“Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes I am. In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am. I am chosen, not forsaken – I am who You say I am. You are for me, not against me – I am who You say I am.” (Hillsong, “Who You Say I Am)
Sitting in that rocking chair I felt anything but free. I had let voices of fear in that were telling me something quite different from God’s message. Thinking on those words I realized I was letting a stronghold of fear take root. God was not doing anything “to me,” but he was allowing things to come “at me,” and I was wasting an opportunity to trust and see him answer.
“You are for me, not against me – I am who You say I am.” Who is it that God says we are? His word makes it clear:
- “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:26, ESV)
- “You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, ESV)
- “You are royal priests,a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9b, NLT)
- “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1Corinthians 3:16, ESV)
- “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” (1Thessalonians 5:5, ESV)
If we know who we are in Christ, then we know what happens around us in this life does not define us, but the one who resides inside us does. Genesis 15:6 says, “And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.” God esteemed Abraham, because faith in the middle of fear and uncertainty is what God calls us all to do.
That day I stood up out of that living room chair and started to pray in a different posture. Not cowering defenselessly, but standing in promises of who God says I am. What a humbling experience to take up a title of power that belongs to us only because we were rescued by a Savior who deems us worth it. We don’t deserve it, but it is ours for the taking. He is our Rescuer, Defender, our Stronghold, and our Ever-Present Help in time of trouble.
If you’re in a place like I was, sitting in a “chair of fear,” or in circumstances beyond your control, take hold of the promises of Christ. You are who HE says you are –not who the world says, and not who your fear says. We were bought with a price, so let’s live like it.
Ashley lives in Memphis, Tennessee and is the wife of Justin, her best friend, and mother of Cole and Norah, her two amazing little ones. She is a work-at-home mom trying to soak up all the little years as much as possible since she has yet to find a way to pause time. Ashley is a wedding photographer with her husband, and is so thankful for the ability to do a profession she loves, while at the same time making PB&J sandwiches, building Lego towers to the sky, and setting up the perfect princess tea party. She loves women’s ministry, a good one-on-one conversation, and being a part of a community of women running hard after the Lord.