Itís Never Too Late to Obey
By Julie Austin
My name is Julie Austin, My husband's name is John. We are both almost 39 years of age at the time of this writing. Our children are: Joshua 11, Jacob 9, Jessica 7, and Julia 5.
When Julia was 1 year old I had to go in for surgery on my thyroid. The doctor had found nodules growing on my thyroid since Jacob was a baby. They had aspirated it 2 times. (meaning they stuck a needle in my throat and drew out all the fluid from the nodule). My doctor told me that the fluid was a straw color and that was a good sign. He said they don't worry unless the fluid comes out black, in which case it is almost always cancerous.
Then when we moved in 1994, I started seeing a new endocrinologist. He aspirated my nodule 3 times and then said he had to do surgery on it to remove it, because the more often it returns, the more possibility for cancer. I was having continual blood tests to check my thyroid level and was on thyroid medication. I had regular ultrasounds done on my thyroid. The last time the doctor drew fluid, it came out black as can be. I saw John's face turn very serious when he saw the color.
We came home and talked about it. We had "the death talk" of what he would do if God was calling me home? There were misty eyes, and John had a real hard time talking about it. I really had to come to terms with this. I had always felt that no one could love my babies or raise them like I could. And, I think for the most part that is true. A mother loves her children in a way that others would not. That is how God designed it. He refers to Himself as "loving us as a mother loves her newborn child."
At the time there was a famous preacher who I respected that had a huge congregation. His wife was leaving him and gave him an ultimatum...either work on the marriage or it's over. He felt that the church needed him and that no one else could do the job. It was at the expense of his marriage, and clearly not the will of God since His word tells us otherwise. He promised his congregation that if it ever came to divorce, he would step down from the pastorate. Well, when that day came, there was a pep-rally for him at the church by elders who were "on his side". They told the congregation that now he could relate better to the people since he'd gone through a hard thing. He would not step down, he felt he was too invaluable to God.
It really brought to light the way I thought in regard to my children. But through this preacher's bad example, I realized I am not in control any more then he was. God is completely and absolutely sovereign. But did I believe that enough to actually live it and embrace it? --I surrendered myself to my God. I surrendered my husband and children to Him as well. I accepted that whatever happened was His sovereign will. I have prayed for my children every day of their lives to be complete followers of Christ for life and to live for His glory. That is my job, to raise them as long as I have breath to live for the LORD and accomplish His will in their lives. When I gave the reins over to God, I had such a peace about everything. I learned such a valuable lesson and it completely changed my view on how to raise my children --not necessarily in methods, but in my mind. God knows their futures and He is a faithful God. They are in His hands.
When I went in for surgery it was Jacob's second day of kindergarten. We were homeschooling Joshua, but put Jacob in the Christian School in town for kindergarten since I wasn't up for the task. (We've homeschooled all of them since then). I went in for a prep of what to expect the day before my surgery. A lady at a desk told me about the surgery and the recovery etc. She asked if I understood. I told her yes and thanked her. She said, "Honey, I don't think you do understand. They're goin' to slit your throat open tomorrow." I assured her that I did understand and thanked her. I guess my reaction was not what she expected.
The next day as I was wheeled into surgery, I had hymns of praise running through my mind. They wheeled me into a waiting area. Everything was white. As I lay there, I prayed again for my husband and my children. A clear voice in my head kept repeating, "I am with you, you will live." I doubted the voice at first and prayed. (I was brought up conservative Baptist, and we don't hear voices) "Lord, I completely surrender myself to you, if I am making this up and this is not from you please take it away."
The voice was clearer and louder inside me. All I could do was smile at the presence and love of God. It was overwhelming! I had a remarkable peace. Just then a nurse came around the corner and said, "Oh my goodness, we have a smiler here." She called another nurse over to come see me smiling and said, "We don't get very many people that smile before surgery."
They wheeled me in, and the anesthesiologist and I started discussing homeschooling. He asked me about socialization and that's all I remember until I woke up in the recovery room. (I always wanted to finish that conversation!) My nodule was the size of a large walnut (they are always comparable to nuts or fruits in size). They had to take out half of my thyroid with it. The ultrasounds I had did not show how large it was, so they were surprised when they got in there. (Thus, the constant choking sensation I was feeling). The test came back benign!! Even though it was black fluid, it was not cancer. I now go in for ultrasounds every 6 months and I have 3 nodules on the other side of my thyroid that remains. I have to take thyroid pills daily for life.
I could sit and worry about the nodules, because they too could be cancerous, and I may have to have surgery again someday... or I could choose to live in surrendered peace to the God who not only created me, but everything else that is. I choose the latter. I have had times and may in the future, when I have trouble with hypothyroidism for a short while, whenever they change my thyroid dosage, but it's a good reminder to trust fully in the Almighty.
I got the biggest kick out of a guest speaker at our church one Sunday. He said people have asked him, "Aren't you worried somebody is going to kill you." This is because he boldly preaches God's word and doesn't cower in areas that are not PC--such as the homosexual lifestyle. His reply was, "I plan to die on time." God knows when it is our time to be with him, and when it is our time to stay here and work for His glory. There is nothing we can do to change that. Philippians 4 : 6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." There are always going to be times when we doubt and we worry, we are flawed human beings. But continual daily surrender to the Spirit of God is where we find that beautiful peace that is certainly not found in this world.
God has now continued to work in my life to make me come to terms with His sovereignty. I am so thankful for His faithfulness! A few months after Julia was born, John had a vasectomy. I was wiped out after having her. I had hypothyroidism and it was an effort to do anything. I would be exhausted after going to a church service. When we'd get home I'd want to rest in the car before going in the house. It felt good to me to be in the hot car, I was always cold. This was summer and it was over 100 degrees outside. John would persuade me to come inside the house.
John had only wanted one child when we got married, but I had wanted seven. We had prayed a lot about having Julia and he was convinced we should. But he wanted a vasectomy. I wanted to be a good wife and a good sport, and considering how I felt, I didn't think I could handle any more children. John was having to do a lot of extra work and he was exhausted also. So I called and made his appointment. We did not pray about this decision. He went in and had it done, and I regretted it almost immediately.
After my surgery, I felt completely different. I felt somewhat "normal" again. I had always been a high-energy person and it was coming back. I started praying about more children and presented that idea to John. He was not willing to discuss it. I continued to bring it up and told him I would not speak of it if he didn't want me to. He said he was not asking me not to talk about it, so it continued. I asked him if he would just pray about it with me. He said no.
I have continued in surrendered prayer over it for 4 years now. I have felt the Lord saying it was His will and felt it confirmed in the Bible. I have studied the subject in light of how God views it in His Word. If I truly believed God is sovereign over all and I truly believe that He know the limits I have (His creation), then why was I unwilling to trust Him with the number of children He chose to give me? It made no sense, and my desire to have more children increased. I researched the beginnings of birth control and family planning. They certainly were not from the Bible. Their beginnings come from godless, evil people whose goals were very similar to those of Hitler. The only family planning I could find mentioned in the Bible was to continue having children and raising a Godly offspring. Throughout the Bible, God speaks of how children are blessings. He only encourages us to have more, to trust Him and to raise these blessings for Him. How warped we've become in our thinking on this subject. It has so infiltrated the churches that they counsel people to wait to have children, or limit them according to your income or ease. Wow, this really contradicts all I see in scripture about how God views this.
Can we trust God to be in control of all areas of our lives, or only those that aren't too difficult? We have a family motto that the children have said every morning with their morning school routine for years now. It is: "God does not call us to a life of ease, but to a life of obedience. He promises us: He will never leave us nor forsake us & we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. "
I presented my beliefs on this to John in many ways: In love and a surrendered spirit, in flesh and temper tantrums, in Biblical debate, and in disgust that he wasn't seeing it. I doubted myself and would be on my face before God surrendering over and over and asking Him to take it away if it wasn't of Him. But the more I prayed and studied the Bible, the more convinced I became. Yet, I had no other support from a person. I knew of no one that felt this way. I did discuss it with other Christians, but most didn't want any conviction in that area and would change the topic.
I started to feel unloved and one day John said to me, "I'm tired of trying." This pierced my heart and made me historical in our future conversations. Not hysterical, although sometimes that was the case, but historical, in bringing that sentence up over and over again. Not a real productive effort on my part. (By the way, he has apologized for that). Now let me say this, lest you think he is a terrible man. We are all sinful by nature and have our limits at times, which are ours alone, and not the will of God. I know I sure do. John is the model father and husband. He does not watch television (we don't even have cable), he spends time with each of his children daily. He is attentive to me and still brings me flowers. This is a precious man. He has led Growing Kids God's Way classes several times and is clearly interested in raising Godly children. I would not trade him for any man. He tells me he loves me daily and the children also. He cuddles all of them, even the boys, and gives them all kisses and hugs goodbye and hello. He spends all his free time with our family. I have to push him to do things that are just for fun, if they don't involve the rest of us. He checks on my 97 year old grandma daily and takes care of all her affairs. This is an incredible man. And I realize I am very blessed.
I believed strongly that God was leading in our repenting and making right what we willfully broke. But I also knew that my attitude was wrong toward John a lot of the time. This started a new Bible study on my part a few years ago. The topic this time was my role as a woman. Wow, that was quite revealing and convicting. I realized that even if areas in which I felt convinced were from the Lord, if I was trying to accomplish it my way--it only brought frustration.
I purchased several tape series on the topic and regularly read the Bible passages having to do with women. The whole headship thing was really starting to make more sense to me. John MacArthur's series on women was extremely helpful. I look at my husband in a whole new light now. Instead of the selfish, "what can he do for me attitude", I think, how can I live for him. Christ is the head of the church and the husband is the head of the wife. I started to think in terms of our responsibility to obey and live for Christ as His bride, the church. We often make life to be about us, but really it should be about Christ and His glory. In reading Proverbs 31, what is the motivation of this woman? It appears to be her husband's glory and in so doing, it gives her great joy and satisfaction. There needs to be a continual humbleness and meekness in how a wife deals with her husband - a respect for his God given position. As soon as I started to implement that and just give the whole thing to the LORD, John's attitude began to change.
Well, this past year has brought a lot of changes in our lives. We switched churches and have cut back on outside activities. John is doing a character building program with our boys and they all love it. John is much more into personal Bible study than ever before. He has always read a bit, and listens daily to sermons on the radio. But that is not the same as the one-on-one time we need with God. I see him with his Bible open every night now. God has brought into our lives, after 4 years of feeling alone on this issue of a reversal, several people who have given testimony of the same. We have heard sermons on God's intent for the family and on allowing Him to have the control of our family size, health issues, etc. I told John all along that the decision to have a reversal had to be led by him because he knew it was what God wanted us to do, or I didn't want him to do it. (In other words, not just for my sake...but because he knows it's God's will).
He called Dr. Cary Leverett in Texas and received some papers on it. Dr. Leverett gives a reduced price for men who desire to have reversals. It has been a slow process for John to come to terms with this. He became a Christian as an adult and this goes against all he was ever taught as the secular "responsible thing" to do. Not long ago, John turned to me and said, "It would be kind of fun to have another baby." --I replied, "From your lips to God's ears!" John leads our family in a study through the Bible every night after dinner. We have all seen God's sovereignty so clearly in these lessons from His Word. From John's own mouth, he is becoming more and more convinced of God's best and giving God total control.
We talked about it with the children and they are sooooo excited about the possibility of another baby. They pray about it continually.
John has a business meeting in Texas in January. Since Dr. Leverett is in Texas, it's pretty convenient wouldn't you say? Hmmmm, who might have arranged that? He plans to have the reversal done after the meeting. John called Dr. Leverett and made all the arrangements for the reversal. ....We've even started picking out names. : ) But even if God does not choose to bless us with more children, just knowing we are being obedient to His Spirit in a way consistent to His word, brings such a peace. The entire experience has been hard, but wonderful in bringing us closer to each other and closer to our Sovereign Lord. To Him alone be all the glory, honor and praise forever!
A Major Life Issue
By John Austin
On January 15, 2001 I had my reversal. I am amazed at how our gracious God works with us as individuals. Here are the major points that God used to change my mind about a reversal and to bring my wife and I into harmony on a major life issue. They are not in any particular order.
1. Examples. For the better part of our married life, Julie and I have prayed to be "good examples" to others for Christ. We do not pray this out of pride, as we many times fall short of this goal. We desire to be an example to our children. We teach our children to trust God and to put others first. I believe we need to show our children with actions, what we teach them in words, if they are to embrace our faith for themselves. We also want them to be able to strike out against materialism. We live in such a "me-centered" society. We want to live out in front of our children that God's values are our pursuit. Not a leisurely life of comfort, as is commonly pursued as life's goal by so many these days, including within the churches. We have also prayed regularly to be an example to our extended family, friends and society at large. We desire that God would use us as He chooses to share Christ with others. This has opened doors at times, that would probably not have been opened, had we taken the easy way out and not been "different" by choosing to live our convictions. I do believe that God has used our prayers in this area to change us and challenge us.....many times not in the ways we had thought He would.
2. His Word. Another way God used to change my heart was through His Word. I realized that I needed to be loving my wife, by giving her the major desire of her heart. Eph. 6:25 says, "Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her". And Eph. 6:28 adds, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies."
3. Living by Faith. A third point is to really be living by faith! In reading to my family the ways God blessed his people in the Bible, I was struck by this concept. Hebrews chapter 11 really started to click. As I read the stories in the Old Testament, I could see again and again in each one God's sovereign hand at work. Our greatest times of spiritual growth have come when we have relied solely on God and given Him control over areas of our lives as He leads us. (These were usually in ways we would not have gone on our own).
4. Comparing Historical Roots. Another way God spoke to me on this issue was through an unrelated area. We felt strongly that God was leading us out of the church we were in. Through this experience, we found ourselves needing to study deeper into the doctrines of the Bible. We ended up studying the Reformation along with quite a few of today's denominational beliefs. We saw that in the past, large families were normative among believers. Children were valued as blessings from God as we also saw in the Bible. In stark contrast, the founders of the birth control movement were very evil. For example, Margaret Sanger, a founder of Planned Parenthood, called poor black people: "human weeds".
5. God Uses Trials to Help Change Us. Our loving God brought these things to help convince me that this was the right direction for our family. He also knows that to bring us into a closer relationship with Him and to each other, I needed to trust in Him and not in my own abilities. Through this experience, God answered Julie's prayers for better health, (mainly by convicting her in areas that she needed to change), and built her faith by answering her prayers for a change in my heart. This change in me occurred when she stopped trying on her part to change me, and instead she gave the situation to God and trusted Him. I would encourage any family considering a vasectomy to question their motives. Why do we want this? What does God's word say on this subject? Am I doing this for a selfish reason? Have I sought God's face on this through fasting and prayer? Am I following society blindly on this issue? Am I making excuses to justify this choice? Am I trying to control this apart from God (i.e. I won't be able to afford more children, it will be too much work, I'm too old for this, etc.) --These are issues of faith in a Sovereign God.
The John Austin Family - Dec 2000
Volume 2 Issue 1: January / February 2001, © Unless The Lord ... Magazine