The Stability of Our Times

Our friendship with Sandy started when she was a student at the University of Illinois in 1972. She has been a gift to us ever since. Her heart for God and her love for others have continued to shine through all the chapters of her life.

Jump ahead 27 years to 1999, a busy year for us. Bill served as one of the vice presidents of The U.S. Navigators, and in that role was directing the national staff conference, held every four years. Hospitality was a big part of our lives and I made sure our guest room bed always had clean sheets. I love ministry and I’m a people connector; these were busy and good days.

As winter turned to spring, and then to summer, however, something seemed off kilter. The conference had gone well. The campus ministries were getting ready to welcome another group of students. (Even though we weren’t ministering on a specific campus at this point, we were tracking with them.) And the national leadership team—of which all the vice presidents were a part—was preparing for the new fiscal year. Life’s busyness continued.

Bill’s troubles began with physical symptoms: sleepless nights and racing heart. Our doctor started by treating these. By the end of September we realized that what Bill was experiencing was more than physical. By the end of October Bill’s depression was accurately diagnosed.

Once again, Sandy entered our lives. In one of the notes she sent our way, she shared Isaiah 33:6:

“And he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure” (ESV).

God will be the stability of your times! Not the medicines Bill was given, not the time off from work to recover, not the books we were reading, not the counseling (which we so much appreciated), not the new realities we found ourselves in, but God. Sandy could not have picked a better truth to share with us. I copied it into my journal on my prayer pages for Bill and have been praying over it ever since. That was over 20 years ago.

God showed His stability to us in His “abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge” as we traversed this new territory. We needed new knowledge. We needed that knowledge tempered by wisdom, which led to salvation. We were learning that when we lived appropriately in the presence of God (“the fear of the LORD”), we experienced the endless resource of “Zion’s treasure.”

“Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!” (Psalm 31:19 ESV).

Isaiah 33:6 has held us close as we walked with our sons in their major life transitions. It supported us through the 12-week hospitalization of our youngest (at the time) grandchild. It ministered to us as we made some major shifts in our ministry.

And then 2020, then COVID-19. Our ministry plans changed; our travels to visit our kids and grandkids changed; how we went to church looked different; how we shopped for groceries was all new. But God was the stability of our times. Different and brand new circumstances challenged but didn’t change where our stability rested.

I’m so thankful for Sandy pointing us to Isaiah 33:6 all those years ago. God used it in our lives then and we’ve continued to experience its truth now.

Adapted from “Depression Visits Us” in Sue’s blog, Echoes of Grace, January 2021. Copyright © 2021, Sue Tell.

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