Last week, I got caught up in thinking about the beauty of all things weak… the kind of weakness that God uses to demonstrate his strength, grace, power and purpose.
I also mentioned that I would be highlighting stories of different people I know whose lives demonstrate incredible strength as a result of incredible ‘weakness’. So today…
I want to introduce you to my friend Christine.
We met in the fall of 2000 – it was my very first day ‘on the job’ as the Cleveland Director for Young Life’s ministry to teen moms. She was the friend – of a friend of my daughter, and had just graduated from high school. Little did I know then how God would bless my life and the lives of so many others on that October day, over eleven years ago, when we first met.
Her story is profoundly precious on so many levels.
Instead of telling her story in my words, I asked her to share it with you in her own. I’m so glad I did!
Maybe…just maybe… through her words, you may discover something about God or yourself for that matter. Or maybe he wants to use you to pass it along to someone you know who might benefit from her words. Be blessed by her story friend!
“Two weeks ago I wrote on a neon orange index card, “if God’s power is made perfect in weakness…then why do I resist being weak?” and taped it to my computer screen so that I would look at it often.
This is a question I wrestle with a lot.
Almost 11 years ago, I was an 18-year-old, un-wed teen mom. My world was flipped upside down in a matter of moments after hearing the words “you’re pregnant”. I was a one week away from leaving for college when I received this news.
It was in an abortion clinic, only moments away from having an abortion, that
my heart was forever gripped by God.
I wasn’t a born-again Christian, but from being raised in the church I knew abortion was wrong, but I was so desperate, scared, and hopeless that this was the only remedy to the problem that I knew of. In my hopelessness, I cried out to God, begging Him to keep me from having an abortion. He answered my prayer that day, when I found out during the ultrasound that I was 6 months pregnant and could not have an abortion that day. I cried with relief and it was in that very moment, that I surrendered to the Lord…I gave Him my heart, my life. He showed Himself to me, that His power was so incredibly present in my weakness!
4 months later, still un-wed, still 18, I gave birth to a severely, medically fragile child, Courteney.
Being a new Christian, I had to cling to the truths that God was good,
even in the midst of suffering and rejection.
I asked God for an amazing husband that loved Him first and then loved Courteney, and then would love me. God blessed me with my husband, Dan a couple of years later. God has SO knit our family together…at this point, if someone doesn’t know he isn’t her dad, they don’t know he isn’t her dad. It is SO beautiful!!!
Courteney is now almost 11 years old, in a wheelchair, non-verbal, severely mentally retarded, hearing impaired, needs eye drops in her eyes every 25 minutes, has had her entire colon surgically removed, and recently had major spinal surgery.
I definitely can’t put into one blog all that the Lord has taught me through my precious daughter. I can say this, I wouldn’t trade her for 20 healthy children. Yet, I always say, just to be very real and honest, if I had seen a picture of her now when I was pregnant, I would have never chosen this for myself…who would?
As my hero Joni Eareckson Tada says, “it’s severe mercy, when Jesus drags us to the cross, where in our flesh we would never want to go.”
So, I thank God, I thank Him so much that He knows so much better than me, and that He chose this for my life. I would never want to go back to who I was without being the mother a very sick child. I would never care about disabled people or “the least of these”. Dan and I wouldn’t be in the process of adopting a very sick, disabled, 8-year-old from El Salvador. I wouldn’t get to see Christ at work among the numerous physicians, nurses, and therapists that care for her. I wouldn’t have compassion like I do. I wouldn’t have a bittersweet relationship with suffering. I wouldn’t really believe in Heaven. I wouldn’t have to evaluate what’s really important in life. I wouldn’t have to cry out for God’s intervention during a health crisis or a surgery. I wouldn’t have to think about death. The list could just keep going. It is in the most desperate times of my life I have seen God so good and so powerful. So, again, I ask myself the question,
…why do I resist being weak??
Probably the most beautiful example of weakness I have seen though, is how Christ uses Courteney. How can He use a child that the world can view as useless, helpless, a burden, worthy of institutionalization. Well, He promises that in our weaknesses, His strength will be made perfect. I have seen this first-hand. My daughter, is the greatest follower of Jesus I know. She is so capable of the things the Lord cares about because the Holy Spirit has a home in her sweet little heart. Joy…she has the most pure, unconditional joy. She wakes up with smiles and goes to bed with smiles.
Apart from Jesus, there is no reason for her to have joy. Her life has taught me all the lessons I listed above. I have seen God use her delicate little body during surgeries, therapies to do miracles to show His power to those caring for her. Of course, in our flesh, we don’t want to be God’s instruments if it means a life of being weak, or suffering, illness, cancer.
But, this is where the miracles come in, God gives us what is best for, what He can use for His glory, for His power to be displayed…and He makes us weak, because most of the time, if we are honest, we wouldn’t choose it.
I can’t thank Him enough for what He has filtered through His hands into my life. Again, NOW, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…well, let me rephrase that, I wouldn’t trade it for anything this side of Heaven…I will trade it someday for Heaven. And how beautiful and awesome that is….that here we may be weak, but someday…everything will be redeemed. I long for the day when I get to see my precious, sweet girl stand before the Lord, or kneel at His feet and hear “well done”. Won’t it all be worth it?! I believe she will be rewarded with crowns for her persecutions, for her perseverance in suffering, and with those crowns she will be able to worship Jesus…her Savior.
Weakness is so good…it’s so holy…it’s so where the Lord wants us to be…weak in ourselves and strong and courageous and boastful in Him! I love the times where I am really weak, and then I see God’s power at work, and then I can only boast and delight in Him and tell everyone all He has done!….that’s His purpose….when we are weak, He can actually do something mighty in us!!!
My prayer often is to be weak. And this is why I have that bright orange note card in my face everyday, because I need to be reminded, that even though I resist it, I need to remember how good it is to be weak, and it is only in my weakness, that I can be used to put Jesus on display.”
Yeah…I know right?!
Now you know why she is so special to me and I am so thankful for the friendship we share and the memories I have with her:
- of being in the hospital room that day just moment after Courtney was whisked away from her mother in the delivery room.
- of praying with her and her family as we waited (in fear) for the doctor’s to return and let us know what was going on
- of endless talks about her relationship with Courteney’s biological father, and her family; about God, about her future filled with hope because of Christ.
- of seeing her grow and flourish before my eyes in her relationship with Jesus
- and watching God use her time after time after time.
- of watching her fall in love with Dan…and Dan falling in love with her…
- of the overwhelming joy I felt standing beside her on her wedding day as one of her bridesmaids, when she became Mrs. Dan Boyle
- of sitting in the front row praying for her as she shared her story to over 3000 Young Life staff in Orlando, FL (right after Joni Eareckson Tada and before Chuck Colson)
- and my husband and I going with her and Courteney to Disney World (for the first time) and watching Courteney get hugged and kissed by Mickey Mouse
- of going to Courteney’s annual Birthday parties to celebrate her life and God’s faithfulness
- and so much more!
I wanted to share Christine’s story with you so that you would see what “weakness” looks like, smells like, feels like….the kind of weakness that is precious in God’s sight; the kind that is broken; humble; needy; forgiven; and the kind where grace and hope abound.
I think “power perfected in weakness” looks like the 11 year Journey WITHIN the life of Christine…and Courteney…and Dan. What do you think?
Until next time – will you allow God to meet you in your place of weakness and use you (and your story) to shine forth more of his grace, his love, and most of all his glory and goodness?
If you’ve been touched by Christine’s story – or know of someone who might be encouraged by her story please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
By the way: Christine and I have a date tomorrow to set up her new Blog. I can’t wait! I promise I’ll let you know when she is ready to be followed!
There is no doubt in my mind God has huge plans to use their story for good.