The ladies' Bible study at church has been studying The Patriarchs by Beth Moore, and I have always been captivated by the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). One thing that Beth said in the study was that "our hardest tests involve our dearest loves." I know that is so true, yet I was unable to put my finger on what was my dearest love that the Lord was testing me over. And today I discovered what it is.
I got a card in the mail advertising the Children Desiring God Conference coming up next April (we use their curriculum and it is GREAT!). Silly me, I eagerly opened the card and read about the cost and workshops available and dreamed "maybe Johanna and Mandy and I could all go together!" before I caught myself. The next thing I knew, I had burst into tears, walking home from the post office. You see, I will be moving away in a couple months, and of course it is so silly to dream that the children's ministry team I work with would be doing that together because I will not be in children's ministry anymore!
My ministry -- the kids at my church, in my classes, in my small group, the children of my friends -- is my Isaac. I do not say my ministry is my idol -- no, it is a precious gift that He has given to me just as He promised. This is what God is asking me to offer to Him. To sacrifice it boldly on the altar of my life. To give it up freely, gladly glorifying Him in the process. Tears are streaming down my face as I type this, a sign that the trip up Mount Moriah is not yet complete! I cried all afternoon, really really wept like I have not done for a long time. I was thinking about the girls I minister with and how blessed I am that we are so likeminded.
Mandy, Johanna and Janice -- I appreciate you! You are such a wonderful team! I know you will be able to flourish without me because God is your focus, not the kids, and God is growing you all in a deeper relationship with Him. (I unfortunately have no pictures with Johanna or Janice, but this is not the best one of me and Mandy!)
Kids -- I LOVE you!! I have the best students in the world -- from the 4 year olds who love to show me that they brought their "sword" (little reminder, Steph!), to the 1st and 2nd graders in my Sunday School class (here is a picture of our African class party yesterday -- it's me with Zalira and Akeyla -- their Swahili names), to the older kids who are great leaders in our small groups on Wednesday nights (for instance Rachel who is more Christ centered at 11 than I was at 18).
It is by no means easy for me to leave this thriving ministry. But I take comfort, indeed, great joy in the verse from Hebrews 11:19 "Abraham considered that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead". Christ sustains me with the faith to look ahead at the ministry He will have for me in the future! And so I fearfully obey and make my sacrifice, and look to the day when He will raise a ministry for me again someday.