Couple Submits Burdens to the Good Shepherd
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“As a pastor, I knew exactly what I would say to me if I was sitting in my office,” explained Rob Schwinge. “I knew the Bible verses that I would quote to me. I knew the advice I would give. I knew the encouragement that I would say that, well, that’ll get you through…but none of it worked.”
He continued, “I was pastoring at a church, and it went through one of the hardest seasons that I’ve ever experienced, and I found myself being one of the only ones there helping care for and shepherd a few hundred people, not knowing how to do that while I was inside falling apart, not even knowing if I could get out of bed that day.”
“Life started to really unravel for us,” Rob added. “It felt like we got hit with one unexpected wave after the next. Jen’s sister passed away. Two weeks after that, my grandmother, very unexpectedly passed away. My grandfather, who’s like a second dad, he passed away very unexpectedly. My relationship with Jen got more and more strained because everything was happening all around us.”
“Every day was a bad day and every moment seemed like a bad moment,” said Jen Schwinge. “We just continuing to be busy instead of facing what was actually going on in our marriage, in our family.”
“And so, we put these expectations on ourselves that we would be the savior and we would fix it. We would make them feel better,” said Rob. “We would wipe every tear and we would make everyone feel like it was going to be okay. Until we learned that no matter how hard we tried, we could never do that.”
Jen noted, “Many people said to me, ‘God’s going to use this someday. God’s going to use your pain for somebody else someday.’ And I remember thinking inside my head, how much more do I have to go through? I remember calling Rob and saying, ‘I don’t know which way to go. I don’t know which way to turn. I’ve hit rock bottom.’”
“I reaped the harvest of falling apart because there was no foundation. There was nothing there any longer. And I faked it as long as I could until I couldn’t fake it anymore,” Rob explained.
He continued, “I remember laying down and yelling to God, ‘I can’t fix this. Everything in me is falling apart and nothing is working. I can’t fix this.’ And the response that I heard in my heart and my spirit was, 'You can’t, but I can.' And so, He said, ‘Are you gonna let Me? Are you going to let Me be the rock? And are you going to stop trying to be the rock?'”
“And so, I just opened my Bible and it opened to one of my favorite passages, and that was Psalm 23,” he explained. “And the first thing in the Psalm says, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.' And I kept focusing on that phrase and I realized that I wouldn’t live without lack because I had everything,” said Rob. “I learned that I’m living without lack because I had my Shepherd. So, I said to the Lord that night, ‘All right, You be my Shepherd. You’re going to bring me through this dark valley, because I can’t do it on my own.’”
Rob continued, “And so, Jen woke up the next morning and I said to her, ‘I reached out to this pastor, and he invited us to this marriage retreat. Would you go with me?’ And thankfully, she said, ‘Yes, I’ll go.’ And that was the next piece of our restoration journey because that’s when we started to prioritize our healing,” he said. “And when I stopped trying to get through what we were going through and started to realize that I was going through it with Jesus, every step of my journey changed because now I had hope.”
“My family was incredibly stir-crazy one day and we said, ‘Let’s go visit a farm.’ All the while that we were walking there, I’m having this argument with God because God was putting on my heart, this is where it’s going to be. Your ministry is going to take place on a farm,” recalled Rob. “And so, I remember getting home that day and saying to my wife, ‘We need to have a talk because I have to tell you something,'” he continued. "'We need to sell everything, and we need to move to a farm.’ And she looked me in the eyes, and she said, ‘Okay.’”
Rob continued, “We tried to sell our house during the pandemic. It sold in less than three days. We then knew we’d be well over $100,000 short of what we needed to purchase a farm. It was completely out of my hands. I had no way of coming up with this money. Only God would’ve been able to do it. So, we prayed, and we thought, well, maybe we can get someone to loan us the money. Talked to one person. They came back the next day and they said, ‘I prayed about it. I’m not going to loan you the money, but God put it on my heart and I’m going to donate it,’” he said.
“And so, in two days, we raised all the funds we needed to be able to move to the farm. We live on a little piece of heaven that we call Restoration Family Farm,” Rob explained. “When you come to the farm, we fight for you to have rest.”
Jen explained, “Being at rest means feeling completely filled up by Him in knowing that we are His children and that’s it.”
“Rest is something that’s available to every single person because God created it as a gift for everyone,” said Rob. “But the unique piece about God is He’s so creative that rest looks different for every single person. And so part of our journey is to understand God, what does your rhythm of rest that You’ve created for me look like and how can I live that out in my life?”
Jen added, “It just begins with each morning, committing the day to the Lord and saying, 'What is my next step? What do You want me to do today?'”
“The beauty of a restoration journey is that it’s never over,” explained Rob. “But when you realize that God says we’ll live without lack because we have our Shepherd, you can find joy in the journey because you know your journey includes walking with your Shepherd.”
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