guest post by Kathy Collard Miller
Over a period of 30 years of ministry, I’d written 49 books, had over 150 articles published, spoken in 30 states and 7 foreign countries. God had used me to lead hundreds of people to Christ and given spiritual guidance to countless. And the counselor sitting before me exclaimed, “That has nothing to do with Jesus!”
Nothing to do with Jesus? How could she possibly say that? I had done it all in Jesus’ power and for His glory. Nothing to do with Jesus? Was she crazy?
But after a few moments of processing her words (although spoken in exaggeration), I looked at my husband who was co-writer of some of my books and with whom I spoke on marriage, and from the look we shared, we knew it was true. The four days of intensive counseling had brought us to this point of being able to see the selfish motives that drove much of our ministry. As we’d explored the underlying reasons for our drivenness, we recognized that in a large part, what we gained from the acclaim and being chosen for opportunities was more important to us than God’s glory. We were shocked to look in the mirror of motives. God wasn’t as interested in our accomplishment as our motives and it was a humbling moment.
At the end of our counseling, our counselor mused, “I’m wondering if the Lord is inviting you to a sabbatical from ministry?”
Tears sprang to my eyes and Larry gulped back emotion. We nodded and knew deep in our souls that God was calling us out of ministry. The timing had to be open-ended. We needed to be willing to give up ministry forever.
Although it was a relief to know we were going into a time of rest, it was heart wrenching. I’d just had a new book released; a book I felt could sell very well. I feared for my reputation. Certainly, I would be considered a flake. Over and over again, I forced myself to trust God and submit to His leading.
Thus began an intensively intimate time with God; hours spent reading, praying, journaling, along with more counseling. I called it “The Beloved Woodshed” as God took me to the spiritual woodshed to reveal motives and unholy—sinful!—reactions. Tears, confession, repentance, surrender, became every day’s journey with God. And it was gloriously freeing.
After 18 months, it seemed God was releasing us to ministry. We were excited and thrilled.
We didn’t realize the “ministry” would be caring for Larry’s 91-year-old mother who had Lewy-Body Dementia which includes paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. She could no longer be alone; she moved in with us.
What was this about? We faced caring for a woman who accused us of trying to kill her. And for the next two-and-a-half years, we walked in a different kind of sabbatical. The first was a choice. The second God’s command. Yet, God was doing more “Beloved Woodshed” transformation.
Larry’s mom went home to heaven in January and now we are waiting on the Lord for His next assignments. Will they be more “Woodshed” experiences or intense ministry? I trust the Lord knows exactly what He’s doing. He has been faithful in gently transforming us; He will continue to work for His glory.
Check out Kathy’s blog at http://kathycollardmiller.blogspot.com/