A Work In Progress

Our dear friend Sarah lived with our family for about 18 months during one of the most tumultuous seasons we had ever faced. My husband Anthony and I had been inspired to hire Sarah after many conversations with our friend Christine Caine who encouraged me to lean more wholeheartedly on others in the midst of motherhood and leadership. Most of all, she challenged us to allow other Godly adults to love on our kids rather than insist that their whole world needed to revolve around us, their parents.

And so, God brought Sarah into our lives. She helped care for our toddler/preschool-age kids in the midst of my husband’s demanding calling, as well as my own ever-growing/shifting travel schedule for IJM. Sometimes Sarah would come on trips with the kids in tow, or hold down the fort while I dipped in and out of various cities, always with so much of my heart left behind at home.

When we relocated from the East Coast to Minnesota, Sarah went back home to Seattle to begin work on her MSW. When she came to visit us in Minneapolis a couple years ago we gallivanted around town with the kids and made the most of getting to be together again.

One afternoon as I drove Sarah around the city describing our favorite new neighborhood spots, my daughter Zoe, then 3 years old, interjected with a question from the backseat.

“Sar-wah?” she asked in her sweet toddler lisp.

“Yes, Zoe?” Sarah answered with her usual huge smile and genuine curiosity.

“Sar-wah, did you know that God is still making you? He’s not done.”

Next came a silent moment of guffaw from the front seat as Sarah and I wondered at Zoe’s sweet assertion.

Yes, I’m quite certain Sarah knew this… that God is still making her. That’s she’s a work in progress, a beautiful one. I knew it too. In my head, at least.

But to hear it from the mouth of little Zoe, I knew my heart was being instructed with a depth I would not forget. Hearing these words from Zoe’s mouth, and hearing them together with Sarah, whom God had used so graciously in our lives, brought such new power to this ancient truth:  YES, God is still making us. He is not finished with us. And behold, he is making ALL things new (Revelation 21:5)

Whatever the chaos you may face (thank you Jenni Catron for your wisdom on leading through chaos!)…
Whatever loss you may endure…
Whatever struggle is wearing on you…
Whatever sin is vying to break you…
Whatever longing has gone unmet…
Whatever suffering we see around us that simply is more than we can bear...

God is here, in our midst.
Making us.
Shaping us.
Dwelling in us.
Loving us.
Leading us.

He’s taking all the broken and making beauty.

He’s taking our tears, and offering us living water that will satisfy like nothing else ever will.

He makes light rise in the darkness, and turns our fear into fortitude.

He is making all things new. Now, in His Kingdom, present in our everyday. And in His Kingdom still coming. He is here.

I get overwhelmed. A lot. Just take a look inside my minivan. Or rather… Please don’t. But even more overwhelming for me than the struggles of my own life and their many forms, is the depth of suffering experienced by hundreds of millions of girls, boys, women, and men in some of the most vulnerable, poverty-stricken, war-torn, violence-dominated corners of our planet.

But we serve a God who promises He is here, in it, with us. And that He is rising up His people, His Church, to be with the broken, and bring beauty through His power.

I know I don’t always believe it. I forget. I get distracted. I get weighed down. But one of the ways I remember is by joining with others. I joined with my friend, fellow mom, and leader Kristen Deede Johnson, and for the past five years we wrestled with scripture and with the reality of suffering in our world. Our wrestling resulted in our book (officially releasing today!), The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance.  

We realized we needed to probe the whole Bible, Genesis to Revelation, in our wrestling with injustice, whether far off or near by. And we knew we couldn’t do it alone. This book represents a whole host of community – our husbands, our kids, our churches, our neighbors, women like Sarah working with our families and caring for us, our parents stepping-in over and over again, friends strengthening us along the way.

For us this book is our signpost, reminding us that indeed, the God who made this world, is making us, loves us, and is making all things new. He is here, He is coming, and we all belong to Him.

Which leads me to these questions:

Where are you tempted to believe you need to figure things out on your own?

Who can you ask for help in your own journey today?

Is there a friend you need to confide in and pray with?

Is there someone you might consider hiring to share the load?

Who might Jesus use in your life to show you more of His love, His presence, and His power as you follow him, and seek to be faithful to His call on your life?

Ask God to encourage your heart, to show you how he is still making you, that you are not done, and most of all, that you are never alone.

Bethany Hoang

Bethany Hoang is an author, speaker, and consultant. Her new book, The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance, co-authored with Kristen Deede Johnson, guides Christians through the whole story of Scripture, Genesis to Revelation, as the foundation for understanding and responding to the most critical justice issues in our time.

Join the discussion

Allison March 2, 2016 at 4:08pm

I am trying to finish an MSW program...and am in danger of being terminated from the program. 3 years, $50k in debt....and it's come to this. Thank you for your article.... I, like "Sa-wah," am God's work in progress... And He will bring me through any circumstance for His glory.

Kim Hannie February 22, 2016 at 9:17pm

I am my own worst critic and am constanstly struggling with feelings of inadequacy. I really enjoyed reading this article and it has reminded me that I need to be more gentle with myself and that I am a work in progress.

Lauren Grant February 22, 2016 at 6:41am

Asking for help, reaching out when I'm in need & admitting I'm not coping have all been constant struggles in my life! I've been on a journey for quite some time to use bunk these untruths in my world & this article has again strengthened my resolve to live free in the purpose God has for me.. A great reminder that He's still in progress with us & that's OK!! Thanks Bethany & The a Propel Team!!

Rebecca Thomas February 21, 2016 at 1:37pm

I am a retired Christian School teacher with time on my hands. I love spending time with the Lord and have truly developed a closeness with Him that I treasure. I'm interested in finding others who like to share what God is doing in their lives. He has done great things in my life in recent years and I feel my story might be helpful to others.
Would like to make connections with others who want to share.

Sabina February 21, 2016 at 5:10am

I too struggle and doubt sometimes .. I often wonder why god created me and when situation will change and when the suffering will come to an end..

Ashley Graham February 21, 2016 at 5:10am

This article was PERFECT timing for me. I had just finished praying and began to feel overwhelmed by everything I was doing wrong. In defense to these poisonous thoughts, I began to wrack my brain, remembering and recalling God's promises and Truth's to me, one of those being that I am indeed ENOUGH because I am His child and delight. I am not a disappointment or embarrassment to Him when I miss the mark, and don't line up with where I want to be. I was reminded/encouraged in these words, realizing that asking for help doesn't mean I am weak. It doesn't mean I'm not "close enough" with God. We need people in our lives, encouraging us, offering us a helping hand, and to just even share a good laugh or cry with. My stubbornness and pride made me feel like asking for mentorship in this season was "needy". Now I realize it's needed, and its normal! Thank you Propel women & Bethany!!!!!

Vickie Biggs February 21, 2016 at 1:05am

So glad this was on my phone this morning! I have been very weary with circumstances in my life, wondering if I can do this and keep up the fight. Sometimes I forget, I can't do it...He has to. Thank you

Vickie Biggs February 21, 2016 at 1:04am

So glad this was on my phone this morning! I have been very weary with circumstances in my life, wondering if I can do this and keep up the fight. Sometimes I forget, I can't do it...He has to. Thank you

Christine Malkemes February 21, 2016 at 12:38am

Thank you for this post. I needed it. I'm a writer and have felt overwhelmed recently - seems like I'm hitting walls I can't scale while wearing steel boots. I'm taking one step at a time and trusting that this "season" He's teaching me and since my times are in His hands I know I'm in good hands. I sit here looking at my long list of things to do and can now breath a sigh of relief. I can do this. As long as I abide in the Vine then the fruit is His and not mine to worry over. Again thank you for your post. I appreciate it.

Alexcia February 19, 2016 at 8:52am

This was very on -time. Some days I fell so lost on what to do, how to do it, what to think about this or that and it stresses and weighs me down. It causes me to worry whether or not God has a plan for me or not or if I'm doing "okay" on this journey. I have to remember what constant , which is Christ, and to hold on to Him and His word when my thoughts, doubts , & fears wage war.