by Bonnie Erpelding
“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job1:21)
Where I stand today, as a 60-year-old wife of 32 years, mother of 4 grown, married children, and one 16 yr old daughter yet at home, I look in the rearview mirror of the wheels of time with gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s tender mercies. Truly, by His grace, I stand before you a forgiven, redeemed child of God, whose sins are covered by Christ’s righteousness.
Honestly, peering backwards also tires me out. I now claim my mother’s words as I watch my oldest daughter with our 4 grandchildren and exclaim, “I get tired just watching you!” Looking back at my younger self in my mind’s eye, I see a busy little gerbil racing on that wheel doing the things that we women do:
Working, praying, reading the Word, baking cookies, marrying, learning to love, burning supper, giving birth, running out of diapers, falling asleep, reading bedtime stories, loving my husband, reading the Word, baking a new hotdish, washing clothes, staining a new shirt, praying, worshiping, teaching Sunday School, reading the Word, scrubbing floors, hosting small group, filling up with pride, stumbling, falling, confessing, reading the Word, calling mom, burying dad, hugging children, losing sleep, fighting with husband – oops- yup, forgiving husband, asking for forgiveness, reading the Word, crying over my sin, mopping up puke, grieving the loss of an infant, pretending everything is o.k., reading the Word, thanking God for His mercy, singing in the shower, cheering at soccer games, rejoicing that all is well, reading the Word, coaching my young adults, arguing with husband (again), losing my temper, apologizing to my kids, meeting new friends, crying with old friends, teaching algebra (again), reading the Word, celebrating weddings, cuddling grandbabies, thanking God for life, sleeping…(finally), grieving over lost souls, praying, reading the Word, loving difficult people, being a difficult person, asking forgiveness, dancing in the kitchen, growing weary, reading the Word, resting in God’s promises (finally), leaning on Jesus, maturing in the faith, being revived, being disappointed, growing older, dreaming old dreams, following new calling, letting go… and letting God take the wheel.
Sorry, if I just stated the obvious, but I’d bet my husband’s social security check that much of the above is true in many ways for many of you reading this, or it awaits you in your future. Fear not, we are not just spinning our wheels in vain. Be anxious for nothing… (Ph4:6). The cyclical nature of this life with its ups and downs, is strangely comforting in its predictability, especially since we know how it ends: Jesus wins, we cross the finish line hand in hand with Him and walk on streets of gold… that we don’t have to mop.
It is possible to live through the peaks and valleys of this ride we call life when Jesus Christ is at the wheel. My poor choices and sins along the way have not/did not diminish God’s love or His strength, nor did they derail His stewardship of my life. God can’t be run off the road, or the gerbil wheel.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory … (Eph.3:20)
Long before I was truly a redeemed, born-again believer, He was at the helm, in my ignorance. After years of being a devoted adherent to Catholicism, having a rudimentary understanding of baby Jesus, crucified Jesus, and the risen Jesus, I finally encountered the Living Word. Between the ages of 21-26, while in college and Grad school, I attended Bible studies, while still attending the local Catholic church. During those 5 years, I did “the things” – studied, worked, dated the wrong men, earned my degrees in Wildlife Management, sifted truth from fiction, largely ignored my family, tried to be “good,” fell miserably short of God’s glory on my own, blah, blah, blah. You get it.
This went on, until one day in 1988, near the end of my days as a Graduate student at the University of WI-Madison. I attended a presentation called, The Carpenter’s Son, and God opened my eyes to the King of Creation, the pre-incarnate Christ, the lover of my soul. Although I had heard gospel readings every Sunday, it never freed me to believe in Jesus as a personal Savior, nor did I know that He paid it all, and my worthiness was not earned, it was imputed to me! (I love that word – Christ’s righteousness is mine through faith in Him). That night, I went forward, repented of my sin and pride and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Christ removed the smoke and mirrors of my double-minded life and revealed His glorious truths as I poured over the Scriptures:
Life is about Him, not me.
He is worthy; Apart from Him, I am nothing.
He created all things; they did not spontaneously evolve from gravity and gas.
The purpose of this world is Fellowship with Him, not to be our own bears.
He loves me – I am the apple of His eye (that make me giddy!).
I have a real enemy (aside from my own evil desires) and he hates me.
God has provided armor for my soul, and helpers (the Spirit and the Church) to fight off the attacks and live victoriously.
After all is said and done, dear sisters, I confess to you that I still fall, but Christ picks me up. Praise be to God! He revives my joy. He calls me His own and gives my weary soul rest. He reminds me of His promises in His Word. His Word is the source of all truth and keeps this wife, mother, sister and granny running the race!
Bonnie and her husband, Rick, have lived in Kasson for the last 25 years, where they raised their 5 children, 4 of whom are married. They have 4 grandchildren they smother with love every Friday in Austin, MN. Bonnie started life as a Wildlife Biologist for the MDNR in 1989, then retreated home in 1998 to educate 5 “wild” children, teach science classes to homeschool co-ops, and help lead the Dodge Co. Home school Association. They have been blessed to call Calvary their home church for 4 years, but feel as though they have been there for 20.