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Created by God … for God - Girlfriends in God - Jan. 29, 2013

January 29, 2013
Created by God … for God
Part 1
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

Friend to Friend

My mother may not have had a degree in psychology, but she certainly could read me like a book. I often wondered if she was secretly going to night school or something because the older

I got, the smarter she got. For the life of me, I could not figure it out.

Oh, Mama was a clever one, hiding all of that steely wisdom and motherhood cunning beneath

her honest-to-goodness kind and gentle exterior. No doubt about it – my Mama was the first

velvet-covered brick in my life. She had to be where I was concerned.

I can be a little stubborn. Okay – I can be a lot stubborn – but I usually have what I consider to be stellar reasons to back up that stubbornness.

I do know stubbornness can be a good thing when it is attached to an important issue. However, my stubbornness was usually attached to nothing more than the issue of who was in control. And I like to be in control, a fact that was highly evident to everyone in my life during my high school and college years.

I wanted my way – period. When my mind was set on something, it would take a boatload of dynamite to loosen my grip on what I perceived to be the perfect plan – my plan. You can see how this attitude might set the stage for fireworks between mother and daughter. But Mama was not big on fireworks. She was, however, big on prayer and quietly watching and patiently waiting, desperately counting on God to help her deal with me.

Yes, my mother knew me all too well. When she saw me headed in the wrong direction, she wisely kept silent, lulling me into a false sense of security and the foolish belief that I had once again outsmarted her. At the same time, I am certain she was on her knees, crying out to God, waiting for just the right moment to say the words that often derailed whatever foolishness I was determined to carry out.

I believe wisdom is knowing what is right and then saying the right thing at the right time

for the right reason. By that definition, my mother was a very wise woman, especially when it

came to the boys and men I dated.

As a sophomore in college, I was in love and had my future planned. Yep! Every detail was covered. I had not really consulted God because I was certain He would agree with me. After all, it was a great plan that was practically handed to me on a silver platter. How could it possibly be the wrong plan?

We belonged to a small country church where my mother made sure we attended every single time the doors were open – and I do mean every single time. Bill Crews, a great man who truly loved God and our family, was our pastor. My mother was a widow raising three children, working the day shift as a nurse and often cleaning houses and babysitting on the side to earn extra money. Bill and his wife, Joanne, took a special interest in our family – and in me – and seemed to think God had created me for some kind of special work. I was clueless and certainly couldn’t see it – but they did – and they always encouraged me to seek and serve God.

Good grief! I basically lived at the church. What more could I do? Like Mama, God knew how to handle me.

After graduating from high school, I was devastated to learn that the Crews were leaving. Pastor Bill explained that God was calling him to serve another church in the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t really get, like or necessarily agree with that whole “God calling” deal, but my devastation was short-lived when the Crews offered me an opportunity that would ultimately change the direction of my life.

I could live with them and work as a summer missionary for the Pacific Northwest Mission Board. I had never even been outside the state of Texas where I was born and raised. We were as poor as dirt and were often thankful for enough gas to get Mama to work and my brother, sister and I to school. The prospect of travelling anywhere was both exciting and frightening. I also had the feeling that God was up to something. A red flag to my self-centered self! My mother thought it was a great idea. Another red flag to my control-freak self, but the whole thing sounded exciting - so off I went.  

Because I sang and played the piano, I was assigned to a team of students who went from town-to-town, leading worship services at night and conducting vacation Bible schools and doing door-to-door witnessing during the day. It was a lot of hard work – but I loved it. And I especially loved getting to hang out with some really awesome guys, one of whom was beyond awesome. In my opinion, Robert (no, it is not his real name) was one tall, lean God machine. With coal-black hair, sparkling blue eyes, colossal dimples and a smile that melted your heart, Robert could preach the stars down. Every girl on the team had a crush on Robert and I was no exception. But I knew I needed to make some changes if I was going to have any kind of chance with Robert. I needed to change the way I wore my hair and find a way to buy better clothes. And I needed to lose weight. Guys like Robert did not date fat girls. It seemed the more weight I lost, the better friends Robert and I became. Yes, indeed, we became good friends and promised to keep in touch after the summer ended.

I came home, ranting and raving about the love of my life – Robert, the man I was going to marry. He would preach. I would sing and play the piano, and we would win the world to Christ. Now I ask you, how could that not be God’s plan? Mama just smiled and said, “That’s nice.” Nice? My plan took nice to the cliff and shoved it right over the edge. My plan was totally and unbelievably awesome! She would see.

Robert and I did indeed keep in touch. I flew to his hometown where I met his parents and friends and immediately fell in love with them all. The following year, he began attending seminary in Fort Worth, Texas where my sister and brother-in-law just happened to live. See? Another sign from God! Mama just smiled when I laid that bit of wisdom on her. I can remember thinking she must be deaf, dumb and blind if she could not see the oh-so obvious plan of God playing out before all of our eyes.

I am sure Mama was on her knees again, praying like crazy, while Robert and I dated and dreamed and planned our future together. When Mama met Robert for the first time, she looked him dead in the eyes and seemed to weigh and measure every inch of his gorgeous self.

Finally, she could see what I was talking about. Robert was perfect! I was certain she had fallen in love with him on the spot.

I could not have been more wrong.

Join me tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Let’s Pray

Thank You, Lord, for the people in my life who are not afraid to confront me when I am wrong. Forgive me for the arrogance that makes me think I know what is best plan for my life. I don’t pretend to understand the height and depth of Your love for me, but I choose to accept it and revel in it today. Help me learn to see myself through Your eyes.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

  • Do you really believe God loves you unconditionally? 
  • What proof of that belief is evident in your life?
  • Do you consider yourself worthy in the eyes of God? Why or why not?
  • Read John 3:16. Memorize it and record it in your journal. Then write the verse in your own words. Ask God to make it a reality in your daily life.

More from the Girlfriends

A daily time alone with God in prayer and Bible study will strengthen you to face whatever life throws at you. Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. The first study of 2013 is Power Up With Proverbsand begins January 14.

FREE MP3son Mary’s website in the Freebies Section!

Do you or someone you love struggle with depression? Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression,offers practical steps you can take to get out and stay out of that pit. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

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Originally published Tuesday, 29 January 2013.