This testimony from Marci Wollen can be found on page 140 of the book Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story, by Charles and Janet Morris, released by Moody Publishers in March 2014.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have children.
As a little girl, I even dreamed of being a teacher so that I could be surrounded by children on a daily basis … that is, until I could have some of my own.
I had no idea the grip that this idolatry of family had on my heart. The Bible talks about children being a gift from God, and I always thought my motives were holy and pure. I longed day in and day out for God to give me the desires of my heart.
The problem was that those desires were not surrendered to God and his authority to do his perfect will in my life. I was missing Jesus.
I wanted to be a mommy more than I wanted anything else in the world. When my husband and I got married, I knew that I wanted children right away and thought my dreams would finally come true.
Little did I know that we would have to wait seven years before the birth of our first daughter. Each day, each month, each year that passed increased my pain, anxiety, and feelings of emptiness.
I felt like something was missing in my life and in my marriage. I truly believed that children would fill all those empty places in my heart.
My ever-wise God needed to remind me that the only thing that will ever truly satisfy me is himself, and that anything I give my worship to is sin. He began the process of extracting that idol from my heart. I’ll never forget the moment I truly surrendered it to him. I was reading my Bible and praying one morning.
My heart was so broken over not being pregnant yet again. I cried out to the Lord in desperation for him to fulfill this insatiable longing. Then I heard the Holy Spirit prompting my heart with this question, “Marci, what if I never give you children? Would you still love me?” I was stopped in my tracks. “Lord, you know my heart,” I said. The Spirit prompted again … “I want you to say it.”
It took me several tries, but little by little, I felt idolatry being uprooted from my heart. Finally, through painful tears, I uttered the words, “Lord, if you never give me children, I will still love you and I will still follow you.”
I have to admit that I felt a hole where that idol had been … but only temporarily.
Christ overwhelmed me in that moment with his comforting presence and I knew that as long as he was with me I could go on. Over time, the desires of my heart began to transform into the desires of his heart. Not my will, but his became my deepest wish.
But I wasn’t done with this idol yet. I was still missing all of Jesus. I thought that once I had completely surrendered, God would give me children. Yet two years after this event, I was still waiting.
A book I was reading challenged me to think about that one prayer request that I’ve prayed over and over. That was easy … I wanted to be a mom. The book pointed out how easily we get consumed by our number-one prayer that we believe God isn’t answering and we end up shifting our focus off all that God is doing.
I immediately stopped reading, pulled out my journal, and began writing down all the ways I saw God working in my life. I was amazed at how long that list was! I realized what an exciting adventure I was on, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything that God was doing in and through me. I thanked him for all the ways he was working in my life and for allowing me to serve him. I became so excited about it that I realized maybe I didn’t even have time for children right now.
Little did I know that at the moment I was composing my list, I was already about two weeks pregnant! But the pregnancy isn’t the happy ending. It isn’t the consummation of my dreams. More and more, Jesus is.
There was a time in my life when I thought that the gospel was just there to save me, and then I moved on. But the truth is, the gospel has been changing my life every day since.
A native of Colorado, Marci Wollen first believed in Jesus at age five, studied elementary education at Biola University, and now mothers daily for the glory of God. Marci is married to David Wollen, the executive vice president and COO of Haven Ministries, and mother to Elly and Hannah. You can find her story on page 140 of Missing Jesus by Charles and Janet Morris.