I recalled my promise to God that I was His forever no matter what. Yes, I had wasted many years denying Him, living with my back to Him but gratefully nearly 30 years ago through dear friends, Mike & Terrie Fontenot whom we “happened“ to meet, we were able to truly repent and be baptized in 1983.
I remembered my promise to my husband, Peter, who has been my best friend for more than 40 years. His example and encouragement has enabled me to try my best. He is an amazing husband, who is caring and inspirational. His love for God and his people is contagious.
I also thought of our girls who have married great men: Peter, my daughter, Anthea‘s husband and Jon, my daughter, Dani’s husband. They are the sons we never had!! And to date we are blessed with two wonderful grandchildren - Matilda (7) & Judah (4) I love having them around. And I want to remain strong so that I can continue to help our next generation.
Then I recalled the time when we became empty nesters, it gave us the ability to visit many different countries and cities for extended amounts of time. My husband and I went to live in New Zealand for a year where we worked together with many families and where we learned about the differences in cultures and yet were able to see that we are all God’s creation. Then we went to Fiji, where we witnessed poverty. There, families like the Whittons and the Cohens taught us to be more sympathetic to their needs. These times were all great adventures with God continually teaching us to persevere and to encourage others with His word.
In 2012, Peter and I were at retirement age. I was overweight, believing that it was going to be that way for the rest of my life, so I was resigned to just get used to it. Besides, the next big birthday was 70, wasn’t it? I had compromised and settled for less! Though not completely comfortable with the thought, I was resigned to just live out my existence being the way I was. No sacrificial heart here. I felt I was becoming useless, and life was just passing me by! Certainly this mindset was not living life to the full as Jesus planned for me!! I was depending on myself, like Saul who relied on himself and not on God. Gradually I began to understand just how sinfully self-reliant I was.
Where was God in my life? Did he not have a role in my life? Didn’t God have a great future planned for me? But I did not have God in my life. He was nowhere!! I was living on my own strength and settling for less. I, then, decided to hand over all my fears and repent—my fear of being useless and my fear of living my life in a worthless manner.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. I was allowing Satan to steal my heart away because of my fears. Once I repented, it was exciting to see God again! I felt just like the Prodigal Son when the Father took him back. God showed me His love and concern - if God is for me then who am I to fight against myself!!
Within days, after I decided to change, a sister showed me a weight loss program. But more importantly, I was able to claim the promise in 2 Peter 1:3 that His divine power has given me everything and continues to give me everything I need for a godly life. I also saw that He has a mission for me now as much as He has ever had for me in the past—only now it includes seeing our grandchildren as well as our friends to understand the life Christ has to offer—life to the full. (Ps 71:18)
I am continually inspired and spurred on by a group of very special women: Caron Vassallo inspires the Melbourne women with her loyalty, energy and intensity. She amazes me by the way the ministry is always on her mind. Terrie Fontenot inspires me by her practical godly wisdom and the way she lives her life. She along with Diane Hansen, Robyn Boughton and Louise Parrott (my Sydney “covenant” friends) have been my ‘safety net’ for 30 years with a promise to always help each other.
A few years ago we moved to help several young families in our church. In a group of 50 Christians, eight babies had been born that year! With my being a grandmother, I felt like my knowledge about pregnancy, birthing, even mothering felt like ancient history! I knew how to be a grandmother, but knitting and sitting still with a baby was no longer me. I began to have fears about my ability to be effective. I became self-focused and wondered how could be used by God in this situation. But God had a plan. With His help, I was able to encourage mothers through those first years: how to push through the depression, sleep deprivation, “memory losses”, and even losses. God was able to use me to reassure these young women that God was with them, and that He understands their difficulties. Through this time, I learned to love sacrificially and to rely on and trust God’s Word. I was able to use the Bible to encourage the women, even if I didn’t understand the medical issues. I also saw that my “psychological” answers were not what give life to Christian women. Needless to say, I was praying lots.
Now after all these years, I am looking forward to a fruitful ministry an encouraging Christians of all ages. I am excited to see what God has in store for me in the next decades!!! I am not afraid anymore but believe with God and His Word, alongside my amazing husband, my family and my friends, I can do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine.
I love the life He has given me. I want to be in the good fight!
Now being close to 70, I am ready and willing to finish the race to ensure His grace has not been without effect in my life. Who am I to decide what I can’t do? As long as I have God on my side, I can live satisfied and secure in Him.
Life goes by quickly. At least my years have. The adventure happens when we all decide to trust in Him and continue to trust in Him as He keeps using us no matter how young or old we are!
By Gayle Boardman in Melbourne, Australia