“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13)


God at work in the life of Lynne Braatz

"We grew up singing and praying together."

My life had barely begun when I came to know and love Jesus. You see, I was born a preacher’s kid. I am daughter number two of six siblings—five girls and a baby brother. My parents weren’t perfect, but they were the most amazing examples of what it looked like to love Jesus above everything else. I watched commitment, sacrifice, over-the-top hospitality, generosity, and tithing play themselves out before my very eyes. I learned the character traits of honoring others first and living with kindness and respect. We grew up singing and praying together. All these things became natural to me. To this very day, I cannot remember a single time when I did not want to love Jesus. Daddy was a builder of churches. He never made much money, but that wasn’t what drove him. God did! There were times when both he and Mother sensed God moving them out from a particular assignment. Confident they had accomplished all they could, they would move on to where they were needed next. Most of the time, he had an idea where they were to head but not always.

One time in particular, my parents felt a call to leave our church in Toronto, Ontario. My father’s work was done, but the next steps were totally unclear. Daddy always said he would never stay in a place for a parsonage and a paycheck, and he never did. So with family and household belongings packed up in a borrowed truck, we set out to a place yet unknown. I remember it as an adventure in faith, hair blowing in the wind, in the back of an old truck.

In a newspaper, my mother found the address of an affordable house to rent. It was available immediately. We pulled up to the most modern home we had ever lived in! It seemed like a dream. Dad went back to work as a tree surgeon with Davey Tree Specialists, and there in Richmond Hill, Ontario, I entered sixth grade and the most memorable year of my growing up! Indeed, God was faithful, and He was good!

Ours was a very legalistic doctrine, however. When we moved to the USA, my teen years were especially hard as I tried to be a witness for Jesus, but school was embarrassing and lonely because of our goofy convictions about how we should live. Despite all my efforts, I struggled with doubts, guilt, and growing disappointment with my parents. I was always repenting, asking for God’s forgiveness, and “trying so hard” to be holy. It was in my senior year of high school that I met Jerry. He attended our church in Trenton, NJ, while stationed at McGuire AFB. He easily fit into our family, and two years later in 1968, we were married.

Early in our marriage, I had to face a decision that would pit my father’s wishes against my new husband’s. God’s Word loudly spoke truth to me in this incident, and for the very first time, I clearly understood that my father’s will was not necessarily God’s will for me. This was a huge turning point in my journey to being truly set free.

As with new eyes, I seriously got into reading and studying God’s Word for myself, using the Living Bible Translation. I began to feel God’s Spirit rising in me. His Word was becoming alive to me! My heart began to ache for the lost, and I knew it was God pouring His heart into mine. I began to feel a passion that day that motivates me still.

From the very beginning, Jerry and I wanted to honor and serve the Lord with our lives. Applying the principles and habits we had both learned at an early age worked well for us. God provided, guided, and gave us three healthy, beautiful children. He gave us a business that flourished and enabled me to be a stay-at-home mom. Our work in the church was fruitful. We looked kind of perfect.

“The challenges I have faced have but proven to me that He is faithful; He loves me; and He is very good!”

However, mid-life crisis hit us hard in 1987. Inwardly, we were growing weary, and we found ourselves separated. How could this be happening to us? To me?! I truly lost all hope for any marriage if ours couldn’t survive. I would have rather that one of us had died than to live this humiliation. What did this even say about our witness for Christ?

Lynne and her dad

One day, I heard God say, “That pretty little journal still sitting empty on your shelf—start writing everything down. I am taking you on an adventure, and you don’t want to miss a moment of it.” I began that day to be accountable before God with every thought — good, bad, ugly, or raw. All my fears and wonderings, anxieties and questions, prayers and my tears — all went into those pages. Since on page one, I had asked Jesus to protect this little book from eyes that shouldn’t see it, I was never afraid to be gut-real and completely vulnerable.

I found that when I was emptied of words and God had it all, He would pour His sweet peace all over me. I could then bask in His presence as He would reveal things to me in Scripture or through the words of an old song: “Morning by morning new mercies I did see.” My situation may not have changed, but I was changing. Intimacy with Jesus became more real to me than that of any earthly friend. Those times with Jesus were never rushed nor quick. To this very day, my times with Him are never less than one hour. See, real intimacy simply cannot be rushed.

We made our move to Tabernacle in 1987 and happened upon FAC. The children immediately got involved with the youth. It was just the medicine we needed. Since God always seemed to talk to me through Pastor Marty, I went to church one Sunday in particular, asking and expecting God for specific direction. I needed it immediately! How disappointed I was to find him talking about tithing. Yuck! We’d been practicing that our whole life. But then Marty made the challenge to double tithe. It was then the tears began to flow, and I recognized God’s voice.

I accepted that challenge. Within one month, in February 1988, our lives positively began to change. At FAC, we found a hospital of sorts, a place to rest, heal, and find “grace.” Together we were discovering Christ in a fresh and more vibrant way. God has given us a marriage more beautiful than we could have imagined. “What Satan intended for evil, God meant for good.”

Jesus has been everything to me since I was a young child. The challenges I have faced have but proven to me that He is faithful; He loves me; He is very good!

I know your challenges are different from mine, but I can tell you that Jesus is the answer to your struggles too—family problems, finances, depression, addiction, health concerns? Whatever it is, trust Jesus!

If you haven’t started your journey with Him yet, take Him at His Word. Believe Him. Receive Him. Start walking with Him. He will be faithful to lead you, be your peace, turn your sorrow into joy, and be your “ever-present help in time of trouble.” †