Six women serve on the Women’s Ministry Team of our church. Throughout the coming year, our goal is to introduce you to some of us in a deeper way. We want you to catch a glimpse of how God has been at work in our lives. So, here is the first one of these brief testimonies. In June 2017, a few weeks before moving to California, Carol Hensel wrote the following thoughts (slightly modified for the sake of clarity).
Words sung by the group Petra all those years ago still ring in my ears.
I am available, I am available; I will go when You say go.
I am available, I am available; I will stop when You say no.
My whole life was incomplete til I laid it at Your feet,
So use me as You will, I am available. (Hartman)
As I listened to those lyrics and sang along during my college years, undoubtedly, God used that message to prepare me to go. And off to Senegal I went. In my twenties, the call to go was clear; it was a joy to answer ‘yes’.
A decade later, sitting in church, tears in my eyes, my heart tight with emotion, I remember singing other words.
All I once held dear, built my life upon, All this world reveres, and wars to own.
All I once thought gain I have counted loss, Spent and worthless now, compared to this,
Knowing you, Jesus, Knowing you, there is no greater thing,
You’re my all, You’re the best, You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You, Lord. (Kendrick)
You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek,
You are my all in all.
Seeking You as a precious jewel, Lord, to give up, I‘d be a fool,
You are my all in all. (Jernigan)
God used these in another season of my life to help me let go. And off to Jordan we went.
Throughout the years, I have sung other words of surrender, checking my heart to know whether I could truly do so in all honesty.
I lay me down, I’m not my own. I belong to you alone, (…)
There’s no life apart from you. (…)
Giving up all my rights, Take this life and let it shine, (…)
It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way, Always. (Tomlin)
My joy? Yes, sometimes through tears, but yes, my joy.
Then another intersection loomed in our path. A change for which we had prayed and pleaded. With fasting and through tears, we had waited upon God. Finally, after the silence and countless roadblocks, the disappointments and the confusion, the repeated no’s of the previous months, a path seemed to open up. Finally, a green light, a yes. Not just a possibility, but a warm and welcoming invitation. Clarity finally pushed away the fog and confusion. The longed-for guidance, … could it be? Had the search truly ended? The search for a ministry, a location, a new church family to love and serve. Very possibly.
With the answer came the reminder to surrender, to lay aside every weight, even the blessings treasured in the waiting. New friends, the comfort of a place that was known, the nearness of some family members, none of these could I enthrone. We were called to exchange, once again, the known for the unknown, the familiar for a blank page. The call to serve always seems to come with the call to die. If I desire fruit in the next chapter of my life, then I must die, hate my life in this world and follow Him.
This call to die to self is unending. I heard this theme in my 20’s, through the decades and to this day. In fact, it will remain until the end. Whatever the season of life, from single to empty-nesters, I will never be my own. I am forever a slave to a loving master.
As the decision neared, those many months ago, and the goodbyes continued, my Lord knew the way through the wilderness, all I had to do was follow. The song, The Cause of Christ, captured my mind on a Sunday morning, shortly before the move. A newer song, but the same theme of surrender.
The only thing I want in life Is to be known for loving Christ
To build his Church, To love his Bride
And make his Name known far and wide.
For this cause I live, For this cause I’d die.
I surrender all for the cause of Christ.
All I once held dear, I will leave behind.
For my joy is this: oh, the cause of Christ.” (Jobe)
And off to Oroville we went.