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Sweet Surrender

Do we trust God enough to surrender our kids to Him?

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A clumsy smile left my lips as I stumbled off the bus. I hoped to assure the bus driver that his almost missing my stop followed by an abrupt halt was understood. Was his son fighting in Gaza? Was his daughter a part of the medical unit serving on the border? He zoomed right past the stop before mine forgetting it entirely.

My mind was awash with thoughts of how the “City of Peace” was anything but this summer when the air was penetrated with an eerie, earsplitting sound. The air raid sirens were sounding in Jerusalem.

We knew this was a possibility when we moved here last October and now reality sunk in. For a split second, I took in a sight recognizable to my Western thinking as something from a movie. But this was not Hollywood and there was neither musical score nor slow-motion movement. Real people, my neighbors began running. Drivers frantically sped up their cars to get home or stopped completely so that they and their passengers could get out, duck, and take cover. I was not going to get home in a minute and a half. I crouched down on the east side of the nearest block wall. A loud boom was heard overhead. The Iron Dome intercepted four rockets aimed at Jerusalem that evening at dusk.

There is about a second and a half to two seconds of a hush and a standstill after a rocket explodes. And in that still and silence, I realized something very profound which changed my life and thrust me into two months of in depth self-realization.

I was not afraid.

This from a girl who fell asleep at night replaying every Mexican ghost story I’d ever been told as a child.

This from a girl who spent a year going to the emergency room with anxiety attacks as a young woman.

Rockets flew and were intercepted above my neighborhood and I was not afraid.

Since then the Holy Spirit has reminded me of the many altars I visited in my lifetime and the many things I’ve laid down in surrender. I was not afraid this day because I’ve counted the cost. He showed me the altar I visited when I was 17 years old and said I would give up my dreams and follow Him into ministry. He showed me the altar I visited when I was 23 and moved away from home for the last time. He showed me the altar I visited last year when He called my family and me to pack up our lives and move to Israel.

I was quite proud of myself realizing I was not afraid during the siren because I had already surrendered my life to God.

And then He led me to another altar. This altar was different from the rest because while the others had the appearance of having been abandoned, this altar looked well maintained. As if it had been visited often.

I inquired of the Lord, “What has been laid on this pristine altar?”

He replied, “Your daughters.”

“Why aren’t they on it?” I asked.

No answer.

“Isn’t an altar made for a sacrifice?”

“Yes it is.”

“Oh. O-o-o-h.”

It was then that I realized where my greatest fears resided.

When each of my girls was a newborn we did the traditional Christian dedication. We stood immaculately dressed in front of our congregation, with verses chosen in prayer, and dedicated both Eden and Leia to God. But something detrimental happened not long after those prayers of dedication were said.

I took them back.

When Eden went to public school, I waited anxiety-ridden for 6 hours each day to get into the pick-up line so I could have my girl back.

When they began making friends I was fearful of the influences they were subjecting themselves to.

And now, as we move into a new phase of life laced with adolescent moods, new likes and dislikes, and a constant pull toward more independence, I have found myself riddled with a need for control, accompanied by my raging enemy – fear.

I am more desperate for the daily bread only God can give. I am committing morning by morning not to remove my girls from the altar of surrender.

I have become flesh to Proverbs 3:5-6, trusting in the Lord with all of my heart. Fighting momentarily not to lean on my own understanding. Acknowledging Him in every dealing with my girls. And I am finding that He is directing not only my path, but theirs as well.

I am relearning and ancient Truth: His ways and His thoughts toward Eden and Leia are higher than mine.

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Rebecca Verbeten was born and raised in Southern California and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and two daughters. She received Jesus as her Lord and Savior when she was four years old and at that time fell in love not only with Jesus, but also with his Bride, the Church. She is a graduate of Master's Commission USA and spent eight years as staff and director of Master's Commission Springfield. She is a licensed minister with IMF, the International Ministerial Fellowship. Along with homeschooling their two daughters, Rebecca and her husband, Patrick oversee Zealous8:2, a ministry connecting young adults in 7 different nations to God's heart for Israel and the Jewish people. She never feels more alive than when she is exploring the Land of Israel with her family. Learn more about Rebecca by visiting her blog, Memoirs of a Slave Girl or following her on Twitter @Rebeccaverbeten

4 Comments
  • Stephanie Emmerson

    Powerful reminder that they are not ours…they belong to Him. You’ve challenged me today, my friend. Prayers for continued protection for your family and for the peace of Jerusalem!

    • Rebecca Armenta Verbeten

      It’s always hard for me to comprehend, but the truth is, HE loves them more than we do! Blessings to you. And thank you so much for your prayers.

  • Laura Reinstein-Teague

    This moved me to near tears. As we prepare to move our family across the world, I have been realizing lately that comfort and security won’t always be an option for us. And as the world falls apart, God has had to remind me almost daily that even though things are crumbling…as they inevitably will…His kingdom will stand forever and His fame is what my life and my family’s lives are for. I want to shelter my children from the evil in the world. I don’t want them to know that beyond the front door is an earth corrupt and riddled with wicked intentions. But He reminds me daily to trust Him with them. He reminds me daily that He cares for them just as dearly as He cares for me. And His plan for their lives is immeasurably greater than my plan of shelter and control. Love you! Thank you for your transparency!

    • Rebecca Armenta Verbeten

      It seems every other hour I am having to say, “I trust you, Lord. I trust you, Lord. I trust you, Lord with my girls.” And that confession has done so much to transform my mind and alleviate fear. I’ll be praying for you as a mama and for your babies. One of the things I pray over Eden and Leia is that the Lord would captivate them. Because then nothing can sway them. And He does! I’ll be praying the same over Colton and Abby. Love you!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Sweet Surrender

by Rebecca Verbeten time to read: 3 min
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