And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
“The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness. . . . The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness” (Steps to Christ, p. 43). Since childhood, I had a desire to be like Jesus. As I daily consecrated my life to Him, I prayed for Him to change me. He answered my prayer in a most interesting way.
My father-in-law, George, moved in with us after his wife passed away from cancer. We were happy to have him closer to us and wanted him to be part of our young daughter’s life. We hoped that living in our home and participating in family worships would have a positive spiritual influence on him.
We lived on a farm with a barn, lake, pasture, and wildlife that frequented the property. George was an avid outdoorsman, so this was a prime location for his retirement. Every morning he took a walk by the lake. One day when he didn’t return from his walk at the usual time, my husband went looking for him. He was slumped in a blackberry bush where he had fallen. Over the next few weeks, George complained that his legs and feet tingled, and he found it difficult to walk. Tests revealed a tumor which had metastasized onto his spine. His physician scheduled surgery to remove the tumor, which caused permanent paralysis from the waist down.
Rather than admit him to a nursing facility, we decided that I would care for him at home. I had no nurses’ training, only a crash course by the discharging nurse when we left the hospital. My day consisted of bathing George, caring for his bed sores, administering his medications, and transferring him from bed to chair, then back again. It was incredibly humiliating to him that he could not take care of himself anymore, and I took the brunt of his frustration.
My husband and I planned a weekend getaway and arranged for a young man to care for George while we were gone. The night before we were to leave, I tucked George into bed, kissed him on the forehead, and reminded him that we would leave in the morning for the weekend. With that, George angrily blurted out, “I’m your responsibility! You have no right to leave me with someone else!” I snapped back with, “You are a selfish, unreasonable old man!”
Instantly, I was convicted that my actions were wrong and very un-Christlike. Weeping, I ran to my room and fell onto my bed. “Lord, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I control my temper? Are you really working in my life?” The answer came so gently, “I am working in your life. I am answering your prayer to be more like Me. You are resentful of George. He takes up your time, leaving you feeling overwhelmed with no way out. Resentment is sin, and if you give it to Me, I will give you grace to continue caring for George.”
“Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God’s service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord’s work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. . . . [Then] He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service” (The Ministry of Healing, pp. 470, 471). “Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life” (Steps to Christ, p. 23).
I saw what resentment looked like, and I did not want it to be in my heart. I confessed my sin and resolved to live for God. I asked Him to wash me and give me a new heart. I got up from my bed, dried my eyes, and asked George for his forgiveness. Peace filled my heart, and my defeat was turned into victory. We eventually had to place George in a nursing facility as his care became impossible for me to provide. We received a call one evening telling us to come because George had suffered a stroke. My husband sat beside him and whispered in his ear, “Dad, you know Jesus loves you? If you ask in your heart, He’ll save you.” The only visible sign that George understood was a tear that trickled down his cheek. In his last moments, I believe that he accepted Jesus as His Savior.