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The story of a full-time mother

As I look back on my life, I realize God has been with me all the way, even though the first time I got interested in Him was in high school. In a way God interested me already when I was in the lower grades, because when there was a missionary worker visiting our school from Ovamboland, Africa, I ĒdecidedĒ that thatís where I want to go to work when I grow up.

When I was in high school (in 1971) I got interested in God ( = God drew me) and I took some Biblical correspondence courses. There was no one in our family or among my relatives who wouldíve had living faith, no one I couldíve gotten support or guidance from, so I didnít have a chance at really taking root in God. During my high-school years I also got to know my future husband (which I wasnít, of course, yet aware of).

I moved to Helsinki to study in Helsingin diakoniaopisto (Helsinkiís Diaconal Institute) in 1973. Thanks to my schoolmates I "stayed alive", but after my studies ended, when we got married and our family started to grow, God was left to the background in my life. I didnít have enough of Ēspiritual rootsĒ, so everyday troubles (taking care of the children, feeding them at night, falling ill many times) and the worries concerning the supporting of the family preoccupied my mind so much that I didnít have enough strength to worry about my spiritual nourishment  (Matt.13:21).

Almost 20 years passed this way. I gave birth to five children in all. At first everything went ok, I was "young" and I had enough "strength of my own". During that 20 years God called me three times, but every time I refused on account of some excuse, consciously.

My children grew and didnít need their mother by their side so much anymore, I started having some time for myself as well. I did needlework and spent all my free time at that too and also drowned to it the feeling of emptiness inside of me that had slowly grown stronger. The emptier and "lonelier" (it can happen even in a big family) I felt myself to be, the more I spent time with the needlework. I thought I would get satisfaction out of my abilities, achievements and success.

That didnít happen, however, but instead I was finally (in 1993) in a situation where I had used up all my strength. Inside I felt miserable, frustrated, lonely, I longed for something in my life but didnít know what it was. I cried myself to sleep so many times, especially during the times when I was alone with the children while my husband was away a lot on business trips.

But I still didnít give up and I kept on trying to manage instead. Finally (in 1995) I had to admit to myself that I canít go on by myself. I was utterly tired of everything; there has to be more to life than washing clothes, cooking, sewing and repairing. I donít want to "accomplish" anymore, I want to be myself. The longing inside of me was almost unbearable. Who would accept me the way I am? Who would love me, even though Iím incomplete and burned out? Who could help me, can anyone?

All this I went through inside of me, in me, even the people closest to me didnít know anything about my struggles inside. Outwardly my life was OK, but inside I was "withered" and exhausted. So this was the way I felt when I "strayed" into a spiritual concert (in December of 1995). I went there alone. I didnít expect anything from the concert and I donít even remember how I got to know about it. It was just meant to happen. The singer sung about five songs and then moved to sing on the organ loft. He sung alone, but I heard a choir of angels singing on the background. During the very song I heard a clear voice saying to me: ĒThe singer is a messenger from God and he has come to call you".

After the concert I was ready to answer "yes" to the call of God. I thought to myself that I have nothing more to lose. The inner me was like a sponge left to the heat of the desert, a sponge that had cracked from the dryness. I answered the call like I was a drowning person clutching at a straw and I confessed: "Here is my life, I canít go on anymore, I am finished, if You can help me, do it, take my whole life" (January 1996). Immense peace settled inside of me, all the restless pain and longing was gone. Thatís all I experienced that moment.

I had given the reins of my life to Jesus for good. It was easy to make the decision and still I had been "afraid of it" for 20 years.  I had feared that God would punish me, because I had "forgot" about Him and had wasted my life. I was afraid that receiving faith would ruin my life, take all the joy away. But now was so happy. I knew that I had longed for this for so many years, my heart rejoiced, rejoiced so much! It was now that I really got joy to my life! I wouldnít care about others, not even about what they would say.

Gradually, piece by piece, Lord begun to heal me and fresh shoots started growing in a dried up branch, slowly, very slowly. I found my way to a small circle of prayer, where I got support and encouragement. But the most important work was done and is still done by God. Itís wonderful to experience forgiveness for all the blunders of my past. Itís an unbelievable experience to know that God accepts me the way I am, that right from the beginning He has meant to create me just this way. Words canít describe how it feels to walk free from all these things burdening my mind in the past. It feels safe to be able to start a new day knowing that God takes care of me and guides me along the paths that He has made, and nothing that happens in my life will happen without Him allowing it to happen. And everything that he allows to happen will be for my good in the end.  

But a thing that still leaves me wordless is that God loves me (and you!) so much, that he didnít hesitate to sacrifice his own Son so that He could save me (and you!) from death into life. He saves by grace, no one can have salvation with manipulation or with a big stack of money. You canít buy a place in heaven with stocks or other stuff. God looks into your heart, thatís why we are all, great and small, equal before God.  

I rejoice over all the things that God does and with which He helps me in everyday life. Before, I wouldíve explained many things by saying theyíre "coincidences", but now, when they took "blinders off of my eyes" I see clearly how the Lord influences and acts in my life and the life of my family. I have gotten a "battery charger" that wonít wear out, I just have to remember to "shut it off" during prayer. I still long for God to be the part in me that grows and my own self to be the part that lessens.

At the beginning of 1996 I wondered where God wanted to lead me. After all, all I could do was be with children (20 years of experience!). Even in the job for which I had education I only worked for a couple of year and in 20 years everything had changed and all the knowledge had vanished from my mind. But God led me where He had prepared a path for me; to the family club and Sunday school of the congregation. In the family club I get to deliver the good new to mothers and children and also tell my own experiences. Children I consider valuable "soil", because also Jesus considered children important, even though children (and women) were not valued much in the society of that time.

At the beginning of the same year Lord led me to a choir as well. I have experienced the choir as healing and strengthening and in addition I get to preach my Lord by singing.

God takes care of us also through all that He has created, that I have learned while spending time in the nature. I enjoy being alone in the silence of the forest Ė watching, listening to Ėnature and God. In silence we also hear better, what God wants to tell us.

I often also carry a camera with me while in nature and I try to capture on film some of the creation of God. What fascinates me in nature is everything small and weak, in a way I search for things that are like me. But even into the tiniest flower and other plants God has hidden part of Himself, I sense that. Even the tiniest flower is a perfect work of art! Nature is an inexhaustible treasury, God still creates new things and His influence on things can be seen throughout the year.

With my nature photographs and spiritual texts I want to show some of the breathtaking creations of God. Godís creations are not something that just is, but God created every creature for us people with love. (http://kotisatama.net/fi/taideviihde/galleria) Each and everyone (every plant, animal and person) is enormously important and dear to God, He doesnít forget even the tiniest creature. Nobody is useless, we all have an important function in the great plans of God, one that canít be fulfilled by anyone else. He gave the nature for us; for nutrition, joy and strength, but not for exploitation or an instrument for selfish gaining of money.

I donít know yet where my paths will take me from now on. I would like to go where God wants to take me. I would like to walk along this path of my life with an open mind, eyes that see and ears that hear.

Iím still not "complete and flawlessĒ, there is a lot of fragility and fragments inside of me. God has work for a long time in healing my wounds. Even the path of a child of God is not all a bed of roses, there can be a lot of ĒpainĒ and suffering in life. "Deep-cleansing" and tending old wounds can be very painful. But I get to walk feeling safe, for my heavenly Father has prepared everything in advance, planned my paths just for me. He has promised me a burden that I can carry and He has promised to be with me for every day of my life. He has also promised to finish the work He has started in me, so that I will be ready when my Lord returns. If God is on my side this way, what can man do to me?

Thanks, praise and honor be to God for my whole life!

   Anneli Rantapuska

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