“Zach, I’m not doing well,” Shellie said on the other end of the phone. She was calling me from the school where she’d recently taken a job as a kindergarten teacher. “What’s going on?” I asked. “We had a surprise fire drill and I could barely get my kids out of the room. Can you come over here?” she requested. “Of course. I’ll be right there.” I told her.
As stated in a previous article, Shellie became pregnant with Nate, our oldest, the year we resigned our teaching jobs and began preparing to go to Sudan. She was able to stay at home with all three of our kids until our youngest, Lucas, turned five and went to kindergarten. With Luke leaving for school, Shellie had a desire to return to the classroom as well. We knew this would be a great way for us to build relationships in our community.
But we had lived a lot of life in the span of twelve years between when she resigned her teaching job in the Chicago area and when she accepted a teaching job in West Lafayette. Shellie had raised our three kids in very difficult environments. Nate was a one-year-old when we left for Sudan. Shellie spent her first couple of years of motherhood raising our son in a third world country.
Within a few years, we were living in Jerusalem, now with a five-year-old Nate and two-year-old Haley. Lucas joined the family the next year. Our neighborhood in East Jerusalem was right next to the 20-foot, razor wire laden wall that separated Jerusalem from the West Bank. It was a neighborhood regularly patrolled by Israeli soldiers. It was a stressful environment in which to raise three small kids.
While we lived in Jerusalem, there were several occasions when we dealt with rockets being fired from Gaza. I talked about this in a previous article. Every time rockets were headed our way, we would get notice by way of sirens, blaring through the air.
It was this experience that led to Shellie’s panic in the classroom that day. When the fire drill went off, the stress of raising small kids in that overseas environment came bubbling to the surface of her heart. Being responsible for twenty frightened five-year-olds showed Shellie there was still trauma in her heart that God needed to heal.
Thankfully, right after the fire drill, Shellie had an opportunity to drop her students off at PE, providing her the time to call, reflect and ask God to heal her heart.
(Shellie writing) I told God, I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I needed His healing in my life. I wanted the peace I knew only He could provide. Over the course of the next several months, God healed my heart. I was unaware that the trauma of past events was still under the surface, but God was able to use a fire drill to show me what needed to be dealt with.
He loved me enough to reveal the inner condition of my heart and allow me the space to deal with it, so He could bring wholeness to my life. Although painful at first, the experience was necessary for me to more fully experience God’s peace in my heart.
(Zach writing) Finding wholeness is an ongoing opportunity with God. We will not be completely whole until the day we are with God in heaven (Revelation 21:4), but we do have opportunity to pursue the peace of God in our lives now.
That isn’t to say we won’t sometimes have things that God allows to remain a part of our lives so that His power can be put on display in us. We find this in Paul’s life where he writes, “to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh…Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NLT)
Yet, we know that when we devote our lives to Jesus, He makes us new! Our old life is gone and a new life begins (2 Corinthians 5:17). Becoming new is both instantaneous and an ongoing work we partner with the Holy Spirit to do (Romans 8:23, 26). When we belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit provides us the power we need to live free from the effects of the broken world we live in (Romans 8:2).
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us (Romans 8:11)!
But how do we partner with the Holy Spirit to do that work? How do we enter into a process of becoming whole, of finding the peace of God in our lives?
Thankfully there are good resources available to help lead people through this process, such as, Living Free, and resources on emotional and spiritual health.
There are also great counseling centers available where people can receive professional therapy as well. Our church, Connection Point, financially supports a local counseling center (Wellspring Counseling Center of Greater Lafayette) because we believe in the value of Christian counseling.
In regards to resources on emotional and spiritual health, while our family lived in Jerusalem, a friend of mine recommended a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I read it, found the content helpful, and eventually used some of it in material I shared during a couple of men’s prayer meetings at Connection Point.
When the author, Peter Scazzero, spoke at a minister’s conference held at our church, I took the opportunity to have lunch with him to better understand what led him to put the material together. He shared that in the mid-1990’s, around the same time there was a worldview shift in our culture (previous article), he began leading his church in New York through a process of emotional health.
Peter found that it is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
Eventually, this content was published and is now a small group series being used by Connection Point Church, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Emotionally Healthy Relationships. It has been great material to help lead people into a place of finding the wholeness they are offered in Jesus.
Shellie was speaking with a person who had gone through Emotionally Healthy Spirituality in the fall and is currently in Emotionally Healthy Relationships this spring. He passionately shared this was the best content he had ever worked through in his pursuit of entering into a richer relationship with God and others. He had been through other programs and material in the past, but this was the first time he had really experienced the peace of God in his life in a sustainable way.
We look forward to inviting everyone to walk through this series together at Connection Point. We are convinced that as we become whole and learn how to live like Jesus, others will become curious, asking about the source of our peace. Our answer (Jesus) then opens the door for others to experience His peace and wholeness too.¹
We’d Love to hear from you!
How has the Holy Spirit lead you in a process of finding wholeness? Share your comments below.
1 You can also find a video message of this content here.