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Putting God First

Surrender it all? For months now, I had felt the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit to trust God, no matter what the outcome. But I couldn't.

My mind kept wandering back to the fall of 1992, when everything seemed to go wrong. An inner ear problem took my balance and endometriosis in my lungs made every breath I took painful. Pain from fibroids in my womb and scar tissue in my abdomen made it almost impossible to walk at times. Then something went wrong with my hormones. Once a month for a week at a time, adrenaline would pump through my veins and wouldn't stop until finally just breathing exhausted me.

I never knew when I got up in the morning, if it would be a day that I would be able to walk or not. I couldn't take care of my husband and two sons. For over a year they did all the housework. But worse than that was their worry as they watched me in agony month after month.

Eventually I had a hysterectomy and medication helped with my balance and the run-a-way adrenaline, but my lungs were still weak and I couldn't get my strength back. I was absolutely drained: body, soul, and spirit.

The whole time I was sick, I had to give up all my church work and all my volunteer work. I begged God to make me well, so I could have my ministry back. I needed to prove I was valuable. Since I only grew to 4' 4", people often judged me by my size. They didn't think I could do what "normal" people could do. All my life, I'd worked very hard to prove to people that I was okay, that I was capable, that I was worthy. Now, I was helpless and dependent on others. How could I please God if I couldn't do anything for Him?

For years God had been very close to me as I spent time with Him each day. But when I got sick it seemed as if He left me. I couldn't feel Him anymore. I couldn't hear His voice. I questioned what I had done to make Him leave me. I got angry with God as the illness dragged on, and yet in my spirit, I knew the problem wasn't with Him; it had to be with me. God had promised never to leave us, nor forsake us (Heb. 13:15). Now the Holy Spirit was asking me to surrender it all to Him. To trust Him whether I got well or remained in this semi-invalid state. But I was afraid.

Then God led me to listen to some tapes. The speaker said sometimes we have to give up our hopes, our dreams, our vision of what we want to do for God, so His perfect will can be done in our lives. I listened to the tapes several times and finally realized it all boiled down to one choice. What was more important to me, God or the work I wanted to do for Him? When I saw it like that, I knew what to do. I needed Him! I didn't even get down on my knees; I simply prayed, "God, if I never get to do anything for you again, then that's okay, I just want You." Finally, I had peace—for the first time in a year and a half.

Once I'd surrendered, God was able to restore most of my health. I can now care for my family again, and He's given me a more effective ministry. I've learned to listen to His Holy Spirit and let Him work through me. But best of all, God has drawn me into an intimacy with Him that I never knew was possible. He has become more than God, more than Father, He's Daddy to me now.

Gayleen Crawford and her family live in Woodstock, Ontario, and attend College Avenue United Church.




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