Surrendering My Places
By Marie Drakulic
When you move, I’ll move.
“For I know the thoughts [and places] that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, with my note added).
In the fall of 2011, the familiar worship song “I Will Follow” became my theme song. For months, I felt the Lord’s tug on my heart. He was calling my family to move to Erie, Pennsylvania, to begin a ministry there. Fervently seeking clarity, I waited for His direction. When we finally made the decision and announced it publicly, I felt peace and eager anticipation. But it hasn’t always been that way when responding to God’s call on my life.
Where you go, I’ll go.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).
As a senior in high school, I had big, exciting decisions to make. Mainly, where would I attend college? Almost right away, I knew I would not be a student at the big campus just 30 minutes from my home. Ohio State University was not an option. (It’s funny how I thought I could tell God where He wanted me to go.)
When I heard representatives from a nearby Christian university speak, I just knew it was the school I should attend. So, I skipped off that fall thinking all would be grand. Wrong. I hated it. There wasn’t anything really wrong with the university. It simply wasn’t the place I was meant to be. Before long, I walked onto the Ohio State University campus…and fell in love. The classes challenged me and grew my passions in ways I could not have foreseen. I enjoyed opportunities to share the gospel with a confused, and sometimes angry, world.
When my two oldest boys were just babies, I tried to tell God no again, albeit in a much less forceful way. I was reading a book at the time that told of courageous, influential girls and women willing to sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ. I heard a small voice whisper for the first time, but I didn’t want to hear it. Oh Lord, please don’t send me to Erie, I prayed. I was terrified and tried to ignore the quiet whisper. I didn’t know then how I would fall in love with this place and the people here. I couldn’t see ahead to the joy of serving Him or marvel at the wonders He would do in our lives.
I will follow you.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth” (Hosea 2:14-15).
In 2008, God once again called me out of my comfort zone. Our growing family left the church where I had grown up and began attending a church on the other side of town. Oh Lord, I love it so much here. Please don’t ever ask me to leave, I pleaded. By now, you would think I had learned His ways are higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). Instead, I went through a wilderness journey with the Lord. During the last full year there, He removed all my distractions and lured me away. I experienced one of the loneliest times of my life, but God used that time to prune and prepare me for the places He had for my future and for the future glory He would reveal in all our lives.
All your ways are good; all your ways are sure; I will trust in you alone.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21).
Many of us have heard the story of Moses and the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, but did you ever stop to think God led them there? He led them to a place with a wall of water before them and the enemy closing in behind them. “And they said unto Moses, because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11) Would we have said anything different? Would I?
As I type these words, I am in the pre-op room waiting for my son Austin to be taken back for surgery to have a medical device removed from his chest. This month, I have done a lot of reflecting on the past year. When we pulled into the hospital’s parking garage this morning, I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know this is one of my places now, but I still have a hard time believing it. And, like the Children of Israel with their backs to the Red Sea, I rebelled and fought this place at first.
Where you stay, I’ll stay.
“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
The night before we received Austin’s official diagnosis, I knew what was coming and I hated this place. I still remember where I was standing when I called my best girlfriend with angry tears. My head swam, and my eyes blurred. I didn’t want to look into other hurting faces or hear their stories. I didn’t want to stay in this place.
Who you love, I’ll love; how you serve, I’ll serve
“And he must needs go through Samaria” (John 4:4).
Jesus didn’t shy away from the hard places. He went to the broken, the shamed, and the dying. He traveled through Samaria, a town most Jewish people avoided, to meet with a woman outcast by society, drowning in her own pain. He came to heal the places she kept hidden and to show her redemptive love. He regularly went to the sick—those no one dared go near. He came to bring healing and the promise of a better future. And Jesus hurt for them (Matthew 9:36, Luke 19:41, John 11:35).
This place—this hospital with its hallways and waiting rooms, doctors and nurses and child care specialists, patients and families—this is the place I have surrendered to the Lord, and it has become my place. I smile at the person behind the desk, laugh with the staff, hug the nurses, and grieve with the broken.
Like Paul, I have seen glimpses of His glory in suffering (Romans 8:17). Sometimes, it hurts. There is weariness from days lived in hospital rooms and anxious nights spent waiting and wondering. There is pain in death and grief so terrible you forget to breathe. But I don’t want to be numb.
Maybe God has placed me here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). I love these people in this place, and I don’t want to forget what it felt like to be in their shoes. For as long as these hands are able, I want to serve them with a compassion that says I understand.
I don’t want to forget those who work long hours at something far more than a job. It is a calling, and they take it home with them. They grieve. They have shared our tears and our laughter (Romans 12:15). I pray they will see glimpses of God’s glory shining through us. During our regular check-ups and all the bends and turns in the road, may they be glad to see us because we bring joy to this place. And for those suffering, may they see hope in our story surpassing anything this world offers.
Lord, help me always say yes to the places You lead me. I know Your ways and thoughts are higher than my own. So, in this place, at this time, and for Your purpose, I surrender.
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
About the Writer: Marie Drakulic and her husband Tony are team members with Darryl Grimes, planting Flagship FWB Church in Erie, Pennsylvania. Marie still calls Children's Hospital one of her places. This past spring, her son's cancer relapsed. The family would appreciate your prayers, that they might be used to show God's glory in such a scary place. “For He is able, and He is always good.”