My Story: Surrender–and the Dreams We Give Up

By Denise Rhoades

I had turned 40 in the spring of that year–and was still single. As in, never married. I had miraculously become a follower of Christ five years earlier (less than 10% of people do at that age. So yes, it’s a miracle!). I had briefly lived as a global worker in West Africa and was about to finish a Master’s in Missions. I felt only one gaping, jagged hole in this jigsaw puzzle of my life: a dream I’d held for nearly as long as I’d been alive. I wondered where I’d lost pieces along the way: for a husband. A family.

Path to a White Flag

On Labor Day weekend that year, my church was hosting a singles retreat in Branson. I had decided to not go; a friend cancelled on me last minute. But then there was my pastor’s wife. It’ll be fun!

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Throwback Thursdays: Relentless Truth from Those Who’ve Gone Before, #3

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was born into a wealthy, worldly Italian family under the original name of Giovanni Francesco di Pietro di Berardone. (Try saying that five times fast.) But upon his conversion, his life altered dramatically. He actually took the swanky clothes from his back and handed them to his father, longing to “imitate Christ” in a lifestyle of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

In the midst of his “great agony of doubt”, Francis sent a friend to ask others in the faith to pray for him. They separately replied the following:

“The Lord says you are to tell Brother Francis this: that God has not called him to this state only on his own account, but that he may reap a harvest of souls and that many may be saved through him.”

“He wants you to go about the world preaching, because God did not call you for yourself alone but also for the salvation of others.”*

God did not call you for yourself alone but also for the salvation of others. -St. Francis of Assisi Click To Tweet

This thought of going overseas can be nothing short of intimidating. But is there a chance God’s dreams are even bigger than yours?

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*As reported by Foster, Richard J. and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. New York: HarperOne (2005), pp. 295-296. Quotations from The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

 

Does What I Want Matter? On Desire & Dreams (…and 7 Reasons not to Go Overseas)

It had been one of those days.

I was attempting to stomach a failure of mine in my job, and I sat at the kitchen table with my husband, shaking my head. There may have been some tears involved. I explained that this past year, one of God’s key messages for me seemed this idea of making “no graven image”. I had to be really careful, I told him, not to remake God as “the God of what I want”–that Divine Waiter.

But my husband’s hazel eyes leveled with my blue ones. “I think you also have to be careful not to make an image of Him as the God who represents whatever you don’t want.”

Huh.

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