You know how you go to the eye doctor and you look through his big thing with all the lenses? And he says, “Which is more clear, number one or number two?” And you go on through this, so on and so forth, until he gets your prescription perfectly correct?
That is what I feel like God has been doing with me lately. Refining my focus and theology. I think I am seeing pretty well through lens number one, and then “click”, He shows me lens number two. Oh!! That one is more clear!
My husband Norm and I find ourselves in a season of life where, because of my health, we are very dependent on other people and not in a position to reciprocate. I have been thinking a lot about helplessness and dependence. It is a particularly unique place to be, receiving with no giving. I wrote about this on my Caring Bridge website, and a friend of mine sent me the following email.
Here is a little something that really helped me. Early on after Steve’s diagnosis [her husband had ALS], obvious feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed took hold. A friend, Janet, reminded me of when the Israelites were in battle and Moses was to lift his arms to God. As time went on he needed help, and so Aaron and Hur helped him with the task to raise his arms.
I found a picture on the internet that depicts this wonderfully. It shows the battle in the forefront. And there is Moses with his helpers from God. He was tired physically and you can see him seated as he carries out his unlikely way to lead Israel into battle (obedience to God does not always come in ways we expect). Plus he must have been tired spiritually. And Aaron and Hur undoubtedly encouraged Moses in that way also.
Janet wanted to remind me that ours was not a burden to carry alone. That others were there praying, lifting up our arms as we tried to be obedient to God. Others, as you are experiencing, were coming alongside doing a myriad of things for us. Cooking, errands, helping with my parents, tending to Steve’s physical needs, etc. One friend even polished shoes for me. Crazy!
I printed the picture and put it on my refrigerator where it stayed even months after Steve went home. It took away some of the feelings of aloneness that come with this kind of struggle. It gave me encouragement reminding me to always be thankful for the ones God called to come alongside. So be encouraged by the outpouring of God’s love through others. You and your family are blessing others in ways you do not know. This is just our way of giving a little back.
Things are a bit more clear. We are not being undeserving lumps; the Body of Christ is helping us as God intended.
Thank you, friend. I see more clearly now.
Facing cancer at age 36, 41, and 42 has made me face death in ways that most people don’t until much later in life. Facing death makes you think about your life. Have I done the things that I wanted? Do I have regrets? Are there things I would still like to accomplish?
As I have pondered these questions, one decision stands above them all: I am so thankful that, in our mid-twenties, we followed God’s call into vocational ministry.
As a twenty-something, contemplating vocational ministry, you have a lot of questions. Will God provide? Are we crazy? What are we thinking? And for me, there was a lot of looking around at friends living more “normal” lives, and thinking, “Why can’t we do that?”
For me, too, there was much focus on what we were giving up: a normal life, a steady paycheck, prestige and accomplishments in the secular work world. And most importantly, giving up the ability to describe what you do in one word: realtor, engineer, nurse, professor, etc.. Instead it would be, “Um, my husband works for an, um, ministry that uh, works with college students and is kind of like being a pastor…but not really.”
Fast forward twenty years, and I am living with a terminal cancer diagnosis. I look back on the past two decades and I say, “Thank you God!!”
If my days left here on earth are short, then I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of spending the days I was given in vocational ministry. I look back and think that there was nothing I would rather have given my life to.
James 2:5 says, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith?” While we are certainly not poor as many in this world are, experiencing true poverty, we certainly have had to trust God to provide daily for our needs. As a support raising missionary, I always say we trust God on four different levels. One, we need Him to provide the money for our salary through ministry partners, month after month, year after year. Second, we need God to provide over and above what our monthly budget is, because it is not enough to cover expenses: vehicles, Christmas, clothes, etc… Third, we trust Him to provide for our desires and wants and dreams: a vacation, a new couch, newer technology. Fourth, we trust Him for the expenses that seem totally overwhelming: college, weddings, and retirement.
That is a lot of faith building! And as we see God provide day after day, year after year, we become more and more rich…in faith.
Not only do we learn to trust God in the area of material provision, we also need Him to provide all we need to do the work He has called us to.
Do I naturally love difficult people? No. Can I make spiritually dead people alive? No. Can I convict people of sin? No. Can I make people attend Nav Nite? No. Can I share the Gospel boldly in my own strength? No. Can I make people give to us? No. Can I overcome temptation on my own? No. Do I have wisdom to instruct people and see their heart needs? No. Can I do this work day in and day out for years in my own power? No.
So this inability to do God’s work in my strength leads me to lean desperately into Him. He does the work. He gives me all I need to the work He has called me to. Leaning on Him grows my faith.
Rich in faith.
As we have walked cancer road three times now, each time I have been astonished by the vast outpouring of love, care, concern, prayers, and practical help. It has been as if a tsunami of love has washed over us; many days leaving us staggering with the sheer enormity of it all.
As I have watched this unfold, I see the vast network of relationships that God has woven over two decades in vocational ministry. Our students (whom I call my children) are flung all around the globe. Our ministry partners have remained and become life long friends. Through support raising, we have remained more connected with friends throughout the various stages of life than people normally do. Through conferences and speaking we have met amazing people from all walks of life. Through Nav staff we have met and built relationships with amazing Nav staff all across the country and around the world. In fact the other day, I mentioned to Norman that I would love to just randomly show up at other regions’ Regional Meetings just to get to see people we already know and love and get to know so many we have never met. That sounds like a lot of fun!!
Rich in relationships.
But I have also found through our years in ministry that there are many voices that distract me from God’s call to me.
I hear about pastors who have congregations of thousands. I open my Christian magazine and see an article about “The Top Thirty Most Influential Christians.” I go to the Christian bookstore and see the big selling books.
“Wow,” I think, “Those people are really doing something!!”
And then I remember that attendance was low at Nav Nite last week, and we took a small group to Fall Conference and only 3 people went to STP last summer and I start to mutter and grumble. “Why are we doing this? Does anybody care? Ungrateful wretches!!”
I lose the forest for the trees.
And then I find myself in Isaiah 49:6, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Or Psalm 2:8, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.”
And then I remember, I want laborers!!! That is all I want. When all is said and done, if “I” could leave any legacy, I would want to leave a legacy of laborers. Laborers all over the world, bringing the good news of God’s salvation not just to the University of Illinois, or to Peoria or Chicago, but all over our country, all over the world, to the ends of the earth.
I don’t want recognition, fame. I don’t want the big selling book, I don’t want a thousand people at Nav Nite…I want laborers. And if that means that my little cup of cold water in Jesus’ name is one gal, right here, right now, then so be it. Because that one little gal is, by God’s grace, going to grow into an oak of righteousness and God is going to take her places and do things in her life and bring people across her path that I could never imagine or conceive.
Because in God’s economy, the poor are rich, the weak are strong, the smallest becomes the mightiest. And He is always saying, “ ‘It is too small…’ Whatever this thing you are asking, praying, desiring, it is too small. I want to do more. Immeasurably more. I want to do what you are asking and more. I didn’t just send Jesus only to redeem the Jews… but the whole world.”
And I want to be a part of that, whatever it takes.
That’s what this girl wants.
By Katie Hubbard
Katie and Norm have been on staff since 1998 in WI and now in IL. They have been married for 20 years and have 4 children ages 7-18, 2 boys and 2 girls. Katie brings wonderful and focused perspective on what truly matters as she is battling breast cancer for the third time in 6 years.
Katie does a wonderful job helping us all remember why we do what we do! What defining moments/ lessons/pictures/ scripture, etc. has God used in your life as a mommy missionary that keep you going on the tougher days? Please share in the comments section below!