I have been a pastors wife for 17 years. I was a young 19 years old when I married and my husband accepted his first pastorate. Looking back, I realize I knew nothing. Seriously, nothing. I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husbands side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years. Throughout those early years in ministry I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. So in order for people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles and God forbid they know any of my sin. It was exhausting and lonely and I was stuck.
Lately, I have had the beautiful privilege of counseling with brave women. Women who have chosen to trust me with their pain. Women who no longer want to be bound by past hurts and daily struggles. Women who choose healing. We do not get to escape sorrow, pain or suffering. We live in a broken world, aching for redemption and our hearts are wounded. We live and breathe and long for peace. We go to battle with the flesh. We go to battle with our husbands, our children and our friends. We search for answers and fulfillment all the while our hearts are wounded and our souls ache.
Healing is a choice. It begins when we allow someone to enter into our struggle and to bear our burden. Freedom is found when we share our story and push our wounds into the healing light and out of the shameful dark. We overcome when we apply the sweet salve of God’s truth to our broken hearts and aching souls. We heal when our souls are laid bare and we brace ourselves for the condemnation that is sure to follow and we are overwhelmed with the goodness of radical, scandalous grace.
We we’re made for more. We were designed to demonstrate the strength of the Savior through our weakness. Why then do we pretend to be so strong? We can BOAST of his mighty power through us. This broken, aching, mess of a world is no match for the sustaining, overwhelming, and matchless grace of God. Choose healing, tell your story, apply God’s truth, and be wrapped in His arms of grace. Be still and be loved.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”~Galatians 6:2
“… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. -2 Corinthians 12:9
Last December, one of my closest friends texted me, “hey what do you think about training for and running a half-marathon?” I think I thought, “that would be stupid!”, “why would I want to do that?”, “have you lost your mind?”, “do you even know me?” But my text back said something like “sure”. And so it began. Let me first say, I am not a runner. I began the training very hopeless that I would actually be able to accomplish the goal of 13.1 miles. I cried. I hyperventilated. I whined and complained and then cried some more. Running one mile was nearly impossible. As reality set in, I realized that I had committed to accomplish something that was hard. Hard physically, but much harder emotionally and mentally. I began to contemplate backing out but felt the gentle prodding of the Father whispering “run.”
From the start I employed my sisterhood of godly women to pray for me. I needed their intercession and support. They did not disappoint. The community of friends the Father has given me are like a mighty army. They began to send me scripture, pray petitions of strength over me, and spiritually chose to run this race with me. You may have heard the phrase “love shows up.” My friend Becky was love showing up. Shortly into my training, when I felt I was at my weakest, Becky showed up to run the long runs with me. Becky is a fierce competitor. She has a coach’s heart. She know hows to motivate, push and challenge. She’s also a mighty warrior of God and knew when I needed to be reminded of who I am in Christ. She spoke the truth of scripture over me, frequently reminding me that God did not give me a spirit of fear but of power, love and of a sound mind.
As the training progressed, God continued to demonstrate his strength in my weakness. I continued to chase after Him, knowing that through this process of training He was renewing my heart and transforming my mind. As long as I can remember I’ve known the verse from Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The Father told me to run so that He could demonstrate this verse in vibrant living color for me.
Here are a few of the truths my heart now knows:
The world is watching. People around us are watching to see if we really believe that Jesus is who we say He is. Do we really believe that our weakness is made perfect through His strength? Do we really believe that He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine? Is He worthy of our risk-taking, exhaustion, and pursuit?
My race looks different than yours. A sure fire way for me to get tripped up during my training was to take my eyes off the goal and focus on all the other runners around me. They ran so much faster than me. They looked better doing it. They seemed to have endless energy and confidence. The Bible is clear, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Not anyone else. Us. The Father has a plan for my life and it’s unique and I’m only able to run this race when I keep my eyes on Him. He is the reason for my Faith. When I take my eyes off of Him, I falter every time.
Two are better than one. We were not meant to do life alone. God has so graciously surrounded me with friends who love Jesus and love me and continually point me back to Him when I get off track.
The finish line is glorious. Training for the half-marathon was one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever taken. Race day was invigorating. The Father answered my prayers and gave me strength and joy. I basked in His goodness. I finished the race, running every step. I did not grow weary nor did I lose heart. The joy of the Lord was my strength.
God may not be asking you to run a half-marathon. But He is calling you out, whispering your name and charting a course for your life. I don’t know all the details of the race He has for you, but I know He can be trusted and when we put our trust in Him, the finish is glorious. So dust off those running shoes and get moving. I’ll see you on the trail.
God is working in my life in a powerful way, and I wanted to share a little of my story with you.
Brandon and I have been planting Grace Hills now for two years, and God has been so faithful. We love our church, our community and most importantly, seeing people far from God coming to know Him.
This November, a group from Grace Hills is going to Honduras on a short-term mission trip, and I have the opportunity to go. Going on a mission trip has always been a “someday” wish of mine, and having Drew this year seemed to push it even further into the future. But as I prayed, the Father made it clear to me that His will is for me to go this year.
I am excited about this adventure, as well as being a little scared. I become easily overwhelmed when I hear about the Honduran people. I’m praying daily that God would further break my heart with love for the people of this nation.
Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America. Two-thirds of all children are malnourished and lack access to basic needs such as clean water, adequate shelter, medical care and education. Our short-term mission trip will not cure their poverty or provide them with those basic needs long term, but we can give them the greatest gift mankind has ever known… Jesus, and this is my greatest desire.
I want to go out of a desire to care for the poor, especially orphans (James 1:27); to be a fisher of men and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost (Mattthew 4:19) and out of a deep sense of accountability before God as to how I meet the needs of others (Matthew 25:31-46).
During our time there we have a few goals we want to meet:
- Setting up various medical clinics in local churches
- Caring for and loving on the local children and orphans
- Laying concrete floors in people’s homes
- Sharing the Gospel with as many people as we can
I need your help. I need your prayer most of all. The Father has chosen to communicate with his children through prayer, and He invites us to make our requests known to Him because He hears our cries. Would you pray now for the Honduran people that I will meet? Pray that their hearts are softened and that they will be receptive to the life changing message of Jesus. Pray also that I will have courage to leave my 3 kiddo’s behind for a week, to lead well as I go with 19 other servants from Grace Hills, and courage to unashamedly share Jesus.
God calls some people to “go” and often leads other people to “send” those who are going. I believe firmly that what God orders he pays for. I don’t doubt at all that He can and will provide for my mission trip. However, I would be honored and grateful if you would pray about being a part of the trip by supporting it financially. The cost of my trip is $1700.00. If you feel led to give any amount you can make checks payable to me or to Grace Hills Church with “Angie Cox Mission trip” on the memo line and mail them to:
Grace Hills Church
2800 SW 14th St, Ste 10
Bentonville, AR 72712
Or you can donate online using Paypal…
I’m so thankful for you and I look forward to updating you. Thank you in advance for loving me and praying for me.
So maybe it’s not always sunny in California, however it’s pretty amazing most of the time. I have spent some time on my blog reflecting on the difficulty in adjusting to our move to SoCal and wouldn’t you know it, just as I’m really settling in, God is calling our heart’s “back home” to Arkansas. I wanted to just take a few minutes and share the things I really love about our current home and ministry.
- Saddleback Church – It is hard for me to describe how I feel about this community of believers. Being part of this movement has been one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. To think that God loves Brandon and I so much that he would “pluck” us up out of Arkansas and place us here to learn from some of the most influential leaders in the world is amazing. I know that our time here has been a gift and am determined to not waste what God has given us. I am not the same person I was a year ago-much of that is due to the influences of this church, especially fellow pastors and wives that have come along side our family to love us and encourage us. God has his hand on this church and her leaders and to be a part of it has simply been spectacular.
- The Weather – I have to admit the thought of returning to the heat and humidity has me a little sad. I will miss the constant sunshine and sweet breezes. I completely understand why so many people choose to make SoCal home despite the high cost of living.
- Adventure – Their is always something new to discover or explore. We have experienced endless possibilities of places to shop, swim, hike, explore. We live halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles and 5 miles from beautiful Laguna Beach. It’s easy to adopt a “beach bum” mentality here, and I like it!
- No Bugs – Seriously, I’ve seen a couple. We leave our doors and windows open year round and their are no fly’s or mosquito’s. It’s a beautiful thing!
- Small Group – My experience of what it means to live in community has been expanded due to these great families. Brandon and I have learned from them and been loved on by them. As we prepare to plant “Grace Hills” we know that we have 3 incredible families committed to praying for us. They know our hearts and see our flaws and love us anyway. We are grateful they welcomed us in and we will be better “church planters” because of them.
- Staying at home-This past year I have had the double blessing of being at home with both of my babies. I have been able to take care of little Sam, watch him grow and be a part of the day to day nurturing of our little man. I don’t take this for granted as I know there are many mom’s out there who must hold down a full-time job while being a full-time mom. When Ella was a baby, I worked outside the home and so I recognize the gift I have been given this past year. I also was able to stay at home with Ella and home school her this year. It has been a joy (most of the time)! The real delight has been in seeing her interact with her baby brother-they have a sweet bond that I pray will last forever! When we return to Arkansas, I will be returning to work and Ella will be returning to school (Life Way Christian School). I will cherish this time I had with them always!
This list could go on and on. I really do love the life God has given us here. He has been so good to give us exactly what we needed. He shook us up and refused to let us be “comfortable” in ministry. This move to California has instilled in us the value of taking risks for the cause of Christ. I’m so ready for what’s “next”….but I’m gonna enjoy every minute of the “now”!