Thursday, February 14, 2019

Singing Part 3: Submission

The Personeus-Cousart Family in Seward, Alaska, in 1963, the year I graduated from high school 
Perhaps growing up in a missionary family made me more aware of worldwide missions. My grandparents, pioneer missionaries to Alaska, were not the only missionaries in my family. Several of their brothers and sisters served in India, Chile, and Africa.

In school whenever I was required to read a biography, I chose a missionary biography. One that really touched my heart was the story of David Brainerd, who poured out his life ministering to Native Americans in New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania in the 1740s, and died of consumption at the young age of 29 in the home of the well-known preacher of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards.

I also read the biographies of William Carey, who became known as the Father of Modern Missions; Adoniram Judson, who translated the Bible into Burmese; Hudson Taylor, missionary to China; and the well-known David Livingstone, missionary to Africa.

The movie, Through Gates of Splendor, about the five missionaries martyred along the Amazon River in Ecuador, also stirred my heart. Jim Elliot, one of the men who was killed by the Auca Indians, had also been motivated by the ministry of David Brainerd.

As I began to sing more solos in church, the theme of Christian service flowed through many of the songs I chose: "My Task," "I'm His to Command," "I Will Serve Thee," "Make Me a Blessing," "Come and Tell Us of Jesus," and "Submission," an old gospel song with a powerful message, written by C. Austin Miles, Philadelphia pharmacist turned hymn writer. The lyrics of "Submission" really arrested my attention. (Click the title to listen to it on YouTube.)

1.     The path that I have trod,
Has brought me nearer God,
Though oft it led through sorrow's gates .
Though not the way I choose,
In my way I might lose
The joy that yet for me awaits

Not what I wish to be,
Nor where I wish to go,
For who am I that I should choose my way?
The Lord shall choose for me,
'Tis better far, I know,
So let him bid me go, or stay

2.     The cross that I must bear,
If I a crown would wear,
Is not the cross that I should take;
But since on me 'tis laid,
I'll take it unafraid,
And bear it for the Master's sake.  

3.    Submission to the will
Of him who guides me still
Is surety of His love revealed;
My soul shall rise above
This world in which I move,
I conquer only when I yield.

I had always wanted to go to a Christian college. During my freshman year at Seattle Pacific College (SPC), I attended a mission service. The speaker suggested that we should consider ourselves called to full-time Christian service unless the Lord definitely directed us otherwise. I had never heard it put that way before. I remember praying that night that if God wanted me to be a missionary, He would direct the circumstances of my life in that path.

A few months after I prayed that prayer, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake devastated Southcentral Alaska, where my parents were missionaries. Ninety-five percent of the industrial area of our town of Seward was destroyed.

I had planned to work in the shrimp cannery on the waterfront that coming summer to pay for my next year at SPC. But the cannery had been swept away in the tsunami. And the docks where my father worked as a longshoreman to supplement his meager ministry income was gone too. I could find no work that summer, so I had no money to return to SPC that fall. That's certainly wasn't part of my plans for my life!

Our graduation day in 1967
Then I learned that Ford Foundation had set up an Earthquake-Relatedness Scholarship. Since my father and I had lost employment due to the earthquake, I qualified. But it could be used only in colleges in Alaska. At that time, there were only two, one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. I chose the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

There, I met my husband. He was planning a career in the Army. After much prayer, I felt God wanted me to marry him.

After his tour in Vietnam, God began to move in his heart to go into full-time ministry in the Northeast. He resigned his commission, went to Bible school and seminary. In 1977, we came to New York to pioneer a new church in Gloversville. After 40 years of ministry in three churches in New York State, we are now retired from active pastoring. Our ministry now is to be encouragers in our local church.

The path by which God leads us may not always be the way we might choose for ourselves, but we've found that submission to the will of God is best. And He has blessed our lives beyond our expectations.

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