Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekly Word - December 16, 2005

Weekly Word - December 16, 2005

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever . . .
(Psalm 16: 11)

“So when are you going to go back to work?” she asked. When I heard the question, I was taken by surprise. My stomach started to tighten, and an old familiar feeling came over me. It was an uncomfortable feeling, one I hadn’t felt in a very long time. We had known each other for at least 7 or 8 years, and during that time I had listened to her tell me about her troubles, her hopes and fears, and all that she wished for her family, as well as herself. She had known me as a counselor, minister, and then as a Christian writer. Wondering how to answer her, my words seemed locked inside of me. On the other end of the phone, my friend started to say something - maybe something to end the uncomfortable silence that had come with the question. As she did, another feeling seemed to come over me. It was stronger than the uneasiness and fear I was feeling. It was a feeling of passion - of wanting her to understand how I felt about my life, my work, and my hopes for the future . . .

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;

The very first time I heard that question, although it was phrased in an order and not as a question, I had just told my husband that I had quit school. I had quit Nursing Training, and I did it without asking him. As I told him that I didn’t want to be a nurse, he didn’t seem to hear me. “So, where are you going to get a job?” he asked, and the anger could be seen in his eyes. I had gone to school for over two years, and now I had just quit! “You had better get a job soon!” was what he said. And so I did.

I got a job working at an insurance company in their finance department. I was working in an office, and so I went out and bought new clothes. I bought pretty skirts and tops, and all sorts of nice outfits to wear in the office. I really liked my job. I liked working at a desk with my name on it. I liked wearing nice clothes instead of a white uniform. I liked the work and the people who I worked with. The only thing I didn’t like, was the fact that I seemed to get sick almost every day. It wasn’t too long before I went to the doctor. And six weeks after I started work - - - I found out I was pregnant!

As I told my husband the news, I waited for him to start yelling. This time he didn’t yell. But he did make it clear that I would have to go back to work right after the baby was born, especially if I wanted to buy a house!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name: Make known His deeds among the peoples. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels . . .
(Psalm 105: 1)

I was pregnant, and so excited! I had dreamed of having a baby - hoping someday to have a little one to love - and now it was going to happen. I went to work each day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the baby. I have to admit, I probably wasn’t the best worker that company ever had. As my belly grew larger, I would touch it - wondering at this miracle growing inside of me. We found a little house, and soon we had moved in. We painted and wallpapered - getting the baby’s room ready for the day he or she came home. As the time drew near, I forgot all about my promise, and going back to work . . .

O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name; For Thou hast worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
(Isaiah 25: 1)

When are you going to go back to work? - Mikey was just 8 weeks old, when I heard that question again. When my husband asked it, I didn’t know what to say. I had told him I would go back to work, but when the baby was born - I didn’t want to leave him! I tried to tell my husband how I felt, but all he could do was remind me that I had promised. With my stomach in knots, I called my girlfriend up - asking if I could come over.

As I sat down for coffee with my friend, I told her that I needed to find a job. Crying, I told her I didn’t want to leave my baby, but I knew that my husband wouldn’t let up. He wanted me to work and make money. My friend listened as I cried my heart out to her. I didn’t want to work, but I knew that he would be so angry at me! I couldn’t face that! Asking my friend to watch the baby, I decided I would go that day and search for a part time job. As I got ready to leave, I looked down at my sleeping son, and wished that things could be different . . .

For great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly; . . . The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; . . .
(Psalm 138: 6 & 8)

When will you go back to work? What will you do? Through the years, these questions seemed to come from friends, relatives, and those who I know cared about me. They worried about me, wanting the best for me. But it seemed that my heart was always leading me somewhere else - - - to do something else - - - something that they really didn’t understand . . .

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; I have set the Lord continually before me; Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
(Psalm 16: 7 - 9)

It was 1987, and the new Crisis Pregnancy Center was going to have to shut down. The director had left, and they didn’t know how they would keep the center open. As I sat there listening, I wondered if there was anything I could do to help. After all, we had only been in the area a very short time, and this was only my 2nd meeting I had come to. Looking around, I knew I didn’t have much to give - but somehow my hand shot up in the air - and I had volunteered to oversee keeping the center open.

After the meeting, I wondered if I was crazy! How was I going to keep this place open and running? I hadn’t even been trained yet! As I voiced my fears to the pastor, he looked at me and laughed. “You are the only one who can” he told me. And somehow, I believed him. That whole summer, the center stayed open. We ran a training for new counselors. We asked churches and women’s groups for help. We did car washes and fund raisers, and somehow paid our bills. We saw so many young women that summer. Some were terrified that they might be pregnant. We listened and promised to be there with them, no matter what they were facing. The girls came with their babies and young children. Some needed clothes and food. And some needed a place to live. Even though there were only a few of us working, somehow the needs of these young women were met. As I look back, I’m really not sure how - except to say that God must have been there to help us.

As summer turned into fall, I took on the position of Director of Administration. I was going to be paid a small amount each week. We had hired a new Director of Counselors - and Norma started working with me that October. I loved working at the center. I never knew how many girls we might see each week, or what we would be facing, but I loved the work. But at home, my husband wasn’t as happy with what I was doing. “When are you going to get a real job?” he would ask. And I didn’t know what to say to him. I knew I wasn’t making much money, and I really did feel bad about that. Again my stomach was in knots, as I fussed through what was right - and what I should do . . .

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
(Psalm 16: 8 & 11)

Through the years, there were times when I would find full time work. Then there were the times when I made very little money. After a few years of working at the center, I gave up the position as Director of Administration. I was still a volunteer and I also agreed to be on the Board of Directors, overseeing the finances. I have to admit, I did this so I could take another job. This one was a paid position - full time. I worked this job for a few years - but again - I ended up leaving to do something else . . .

“And behold, I am with you, and will keep you - wherever you go, . . .”
(Genesis 28: 15)

Friends had told me about a counseling center, and soon I was working there - and training there. It was a place for people to come and find healing for the hurts they had gone through in their lives. It was here that God brought about so much healing in my own life. This was a place that offered “hope” to those whose lives had been through terrible hurts. It was a place that I loved working at. As I got stronger and healthier, my marriage seemed to get worse. It was during this time, that I finally left my husband. And again - that question was there: “What are you going to do?” “How will you survive?” But this time - - - the questions were from me . . .

“And behold, I am with you, and will keep you - wherever you go,- - - For I will not leave you . . .” (Genesis 28: 15)

As I look back over the years, and the jobs I have worked and the money I have made - it really doesn’t look like I have done very much. But through it all, the Lord was always there! He never did leave me! So as I thought about my answer to my friend - my emotions seemed to fill my whole being! “So when are you going to go back to work?” she had asked. At that moment, I told her how I felt, and my hopes for the future. This is what I told her:

“I want to tell people who need to hear it - that there is hope for their lives. When they are facing terrible difficulties and troubles, I want them to know that God is there to help them. I want people to know that when terrible things happen in our lives, God can help us through them. When I tell my stories - I want people to find hope for their own lives. I want them to understand about the Lord. I want them to know that we have a God who can heal and give us a better life. These are my hopes - and my dreams.”

When I finished telling her this, the phone was quiet for a moment. Then my friend seemed to change the subject. I knew she didn’t understand. And I wondered what she thought of my choices.

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.
And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, . . .
(1 Corinthians 2: 3 & 4)
“So when are you going to go back to work?” As I told Ted about the conversation that night, he looked at me a little strangely. “Don’t you know what you do” he said with a laugh. “Every day, in your stories and when you talk to people, you show them about the Lord” he said. I guess I hoped - that he was right!

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, That your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2: 4 & 5)

Looking at my life - there will always be times when I wonder - what am I doing? But then I remember the things that I hope for. My hope - is for others to know God’s healing and Love. My hope is that the Lord might use the stories I write to help others. My hope is - - - for you! I hope that you will say “yes” to the Lord. When you do - hope grows - and not only your life changes - but the world is changed forever - and ever . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare, and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie and Ted Ayers


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