It was the summer of 2007, and we had just come out of one of those times that we would later label “the perfect storm,” where personal life and professional life collide with extreme challenges. We had put our youngest son into a lock down rehab program when we found out that we needed extra help dealing with the challenges of drug abuse right after Christmas. The program turned into a 6-month process for us as a family and couple. To compound matters, my husband who is the pastor of our church was experiencing some very trying leadership challenges that were now layering over the painful personal trial.
It was the end of June and we entered our summer break with aching souls – dry, hurt, lonely – yet feeling extremely thankful knowing that God had walked with us through this difficult time in our lives.
Raising children has been life changing in so many ways – growing my ability to love, endure, see the best in others, make personal sacrifices for the good of my kids and family, but nothing really had prepared me for a child that would enter into the dark world of drug abuse, making extremely poor choices and risking his own life.
I knew the verses – “God works all things together for the good” … “God’s grace is sufficient, God is with those who love Him”… and I FELT His presence with us, but we sat at the start of a 5-week break that summer feeling totally empty. I had no idea how to fill the empty soul that I was experiencing.
God allowed that time in our lives to teach us something we would have never learned otherwise.
We walked alone for most of this journey – giving everything we had. Extended family and friends were nice, but sat on the sidelines, seemingly distant. My husband still had to preach, lead and shepherd the flock we loved – I still had a job to be present in as well and we had two other college-age children at home.
We had to keep living our daily lives and be present. Now we sat still.
Where do we go to be filled? Where do we go to heal?
God would use this still time in our lives to teach us how to fill ourselves and allow HIM to heal and fill us.
That summer we started journaling through the Bible, allowing God’s Word to sink in deep and start the flow of life back into us. We read some great material together and God truly started restoring our spirits. John 7:38 became a dear friend to me – “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We were truly thirsty and dry. God was the only one to touch and fill this empty soul.
Our lives went on after that season – I’d like to say everything was back to normal – our family was totally put back together, but we had more challenging years ahead. Today I can say that God was extremely good to us – but it took years of patience and new patterns of feeding our souls so that we could continue to give ourselves to our family and church. God does restore, He teaches – He shows us how to hold our kids loosely and trust Him to take care of our family.
If you are in a dry season, I encourage you to run to God. Read His word with a pen and paper. Slowly, very slowly God will open the rivers of His living water in your soul.
About Linda Sparks ~~
Linda is a wife and mother of three. She happily works alongside her husband of 36 years building a great church for the glory of God. (Don’t let this very brief and simple bio fool you!)
On a Personal Note ~~
This is a woman whom I greatly respect and admire! From the moment I met her, I knew that I was at home ~~ because home is where the heart is, and Linda’s warm and endearing spirit beckons you to make yourself at home with her. I have had the awesome privilege to work alongside and follow Linda’s leadership for nearly a decade in women’s ministries at our church in which her husband is the Senior Pastor ~~ and she has taught me so much! In her care, I’ve learned the art of compassionate transparency and authenticity of intentional listening. See the genuine smiles above? Linda has also taught me how to smile through any situation. Truly a treasured Girlfriend and mentor.