Carl was cruelly, painfully, and wrongfully terminated from the church he served as pastor – a political move by miss-informed elders who manipulated others for selfish reasons. Carl and JoLynn were bruised and beat-up but the wounds were not fatal nor did they result in permanent damage. When I met them in 1991 I recognized and related to the pain but was also impressed with their hope for what God was preparing them to do in the future. They were totally depending on God.
They were invited to join the same ministry I was working with – but that turned out to be a detour which ended in a road block. Next, Carl and JoLynn thought God was calling them as missionaries and began raising funds but after two years the hoped for support totaled less than $200 per month in pledges. Another detour and road block. More time to practice intentional dependence.
There were more detours, more unexpected turns, including a return to school for Carl to earn a doctorate in counseling. The test of patience was excruciating, but slowly God cracked open doors and cautiously Carl and JoLynn stepped through. It was a time of intensely and intently depending on God as they found themselves with pastors and missionaries in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
About ten years ago, God directed them to Austria where Carl and JoLynn began to host retreats for missionaries and pastors. They found themselves trusting God in every way as those retreats gave birth to intensive, one-on-one counseling with ministry couples; often for two weeks at a time. God is using Carl and JoLynn to touch the lives of scores of people in ministry.
For Carl & JoLynn, intentionally depending on God has not gotten any easier; it’s still a daily exercise of self-discipline. No one has written a multi-million dollar check. Every time a couple shows up; every time they travel to another location for ministry; every day is a new reminder of how utterly dependent they are.
I’ve known Carl and JoLynn for 24 years and we just spent a few days together at a conference in Wisconsin. As we talked and shared I was reminded that life has not turned out the way they had planned but God has revealed His plan and provided in miraculous ways to accomplish some amazing things. It all comes back to their decision to depend on God.
What about you? What tough turns has life brought your way? Do you find yourself on a detour that has you confused? Have you run into a road block? Wherever you are, in whatever situation you find yourself, I challenge you to be intentionally dependent on God.