While some folks are working on New Year’s Resolutions, I am focusing on Last Year’s Revelations. The past several months have been brutal for my beloved family as we struggle with my diagnosis. I have battled for years with OA, which involved 5 total joint replacements. I have fought against the debilitating effects of FMS, yet still maintained a semblance of normal as much as possible. I battled cancer, with God’s constant help, and have been in remission for 6 years. Then came DISH and MCTD. They are a hindrance for sure, but you know my motto: Keep On Keepin’ ON! And I did! Until…..
I knew for a couple of months things weren’t right in my body, even with everything else going on. My energy levels were sorely depleted after just a few minutes. The chronic cough, shortness of breath, discoloration and swelling in extremities, etc. First, they cleared my heart. Thank God! If I could’ve taken a deep breath at that point, I surely would’ve. Then my doctor told me I had a lung disease that would take my life much sooner than I would have expected or liked. Next came the pulmonologist, who told me my lungs were fibrotic, my lung function puts me in the severe range, and he confirmed that this will take my life unless I get hit by a bus upon leaving his office. His idea of a joke didn’t make me laugh.
I arrived late to this diagnosis party. I could have had many more productive years, had I known and received treatment in the early years. I was too busy fighting everything else to recognize there was a new enemy on the scene. A doctor told me when I was still in my twenties that I had chronic bronchitis, so that was that. I dealt with it twice a year, then 4 times a year and then it just never really went away. After my current doctor diagnosed me, I spent weeks in the fog of war. Knowing the facts and accepting them are two very different things. My mama and her father both passed due to this disease.
The limitations on my life are innumerable at this point. My immune system is not strong because of the FMS and CMTD. Now, a flu bug can kill me. A common cold can kill me. Every exacerbation, and I’m in another one now, further damages my lungs which can no longer regenerate. I’m supposed to wear masks everywhere, which is impossible due to claustrophobia. I wear it when I can but only for a few minutes. During an exacerbation, I cannot exhale enough air to inhale the rescue medication. It takes long, agonizing, painful minutes to get to the point of being able to help myself. Three meds at a time in the nebulizer for a 45 minute treatment 4 times a day? Ain’t nobody got time for that. And the need to sleep is overwhelming. Ironic for an insomniac, yes?
I had already begun to seriously look at my life. Examining everything again, and then again. We had found a church that felt like home and we felt God had directed us to go there. We had not attended church for several years for many reasons, so it felt good and strange all at the same time. We had only been attending for 1 month when I got the news that would lay me out. They told me I would go through the stages of grieving before I would be able to accept what was happening in my body. They were right on that score. It is a daily tussle. Denial. Anger. Playing “Let’s make a deal, God”. Depression. And at some point ~ Acceptance will come.
Each step comes in with the force of a hurricane accept the depression. It sneaks up on me in the middle of the night, taking my emotions and my mind to dark places. The only way back is Jesus. Prayer. The Word. Prayer. Worship Music. Prayer. It’s during these times I have found myself needing to go deeper than ever in God. And this need has not sprung from fear of death. This need has been birthed because of the time limit on my life. I need to learn everything I can about my Creator and spend as much time as I can with HIM. I knew that HE was in control. I knew that HE was ordaining every step of this journey. And I knew that HE was with me as I traversed this uncharted territory. But I also had a huge question that plagued me, moment by moment. Wherein lies the Glory?
I believe with all of my heart, that God deserves and receives all the Glory, for the moments of our lives. We were created for HIS Glory ~ (Isaiah 43:6-7). Everything Jesus did was to bring Glory to God ~ (John 7:l8). Jesus instructs us to do good so it brings Glory to God ~ (Matthew 5:16). Jesus answers prayers for the Glory ~ (John 14:13). Jesus endured the cross for the Glory ~ (John 17:1). So, there must be a Glorified purpose in this sojourn. I wanted, needed to grasp it’s purpose.
My first revelation was forgiveness. I had things from my childhood that still haunted me. I felt justified in the harboring of hurt and angry feelings. After all, I had just been a child. How dare anyone transgress against the precious innocence with which God created each of us? Until I begin to read the journey of the Cross with fresh eyes. Jesus was perfect, without sin, the purest of innocents. Yet, he was maligned, beaten, betrayed, spat upon, abandoned, became the sacrifice for every sin ever committed by others and experienced true agony because of it, mocked, brutally nailed to a cross, speared through his side, and so much more. I wept as I read the recounting in the Gospels. All of that for me. For you. And at the end, what were some of HIS final words? “Father, Forgive them.” I saw myself in that moment. What I experienced was hurtful, painful and it came from the hands of those I should have been able to trust, but it did not compare to what HE suffered for me. If HE could forgive those who persecuted HIM, I could certainly forgive, too. It did not come easily, but I am free of that heinous burden. And because HE is the Divine ONE, HE also forgets! I’m still working on that part. Thank you, Lord, for clarity in YOUR Word!
My second revelation was friendship, and it was a two-fold lesson. Friendship has never been easy for me. My husband, my children. That’s who I trusted. I have protected myself against “possible” pain by not allowing others to get too close. Very few folks are in my inner circle. Part of the process I went through this year was a complete shut-down. But there were a few folks that said, “No”, and they stayed on my heels. They have been constant friends in the worst storm of my life and that taught me it was truly okay to trust again, a hard-fought, hard-won moment in time. The other, and most important branch of the friendship schooling, was understanding “Friendship with Jesus”.
I spent time in prayer most of my life. I knew a fair amount about the Word of God. I loved HIM because HE first loved me ~ by rote. How’s that for honesty? By rote. I knew what I knew. I was raised “in the church”. My children were “Bible Quiz” Award winners. Of course, I knew God! Or….did I just think I knew HIM? HE was my Healer and HE had healed me many times. HE was my Provider and HE had provided above and beyond. He was my Leader, my Shephard, the Lamp to my feet and the Light to my path. The truth, the heart of the matter was, I knew of HIM.
It was like meeting someone for the first time when I had a true encounter this past year. In the middle of the night. When the depression rolled in with the fingers of despair pulling, tugging fiercely, at my mind, I needed someone. My husband had been up late with me and needed to get up early to go to work. I needed to be up and at the ready by 5:00 a.m. for my Baby Grands’ arrival on my doorstep, and I was a whimpering, sniveling, sobbing mess. I needed someone! “God!” And immediately, almost before the word had left my lips, I felt HIM surround me.
I had felt the presence of the Lord many, many times, but this was personal. I had never felt THIS! HE had entered my field of anguish with total magnificence. I quieted, my breathing slowed, my tears began to abate and I waited. I don’t know how much time passed. But I knew the moment I was ready to take up the fight again. I have fought this body for years, but with the deepest breath I could draw, I was refreshed. This time, it didn’t matter how hard the battle, I was not fighting alone. HIS strength was what I had needed all along. Since that first sweet moment, I have craved HIS presence. I can’t go very long without communication, sometimes several times a day. Just the confirmation that HE is near and listening propels me forward. I had developed the beginnings of true friendship with Jesus.
The third revelation was in my blog “By God’s Grace” on the Armour of God. HE has my back ~ ALWAYS, and Jesus is all I need to fight this battle. If HE chooses to heal me on this earth ~ Hallelujah! If not ~ Hallelujah! anyhow.
The fourth revelation came today in church. Why did Peter get out of the boat? You remember the story in Matthew 14 when Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake. HE dispersed the crowd and went up to pray. A storm gale blew and the disciples were afraid in the boat. In those days, they couldn’t check the weather like we can today. They had to look to the skies and read the clouds. But in the fourth watch, which is between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., the storm arrived. The clouds would have been hard to decipher. I’m sure they rowed furiously and worried they might perish at any moment.
Then Jesus came walking on the stormy waves and reassured them HE was indeed the Lord. Peter, ever the first one with the mouth, challenged Jesus. “Oh yeah? Well, if that’s true, tell me to step on outta this boat!” Jesus said simply, “Come”. Peter, being the man with the plan, did just that! He leapt over the side of the boat and began walking on water. Peter was full of impulses and never quite able to squelch them. That impulse took him out of the boat. Neither the boat in the midst of the storm, nor stepping out of the boat could be considered safe. Jesus had not yet calmed the storm. Peter went from hazard to hazard. Why? I believe it was because he had spent time with Jesus and knew the power that was Jesus. Because of his knowledge, he left the boat. But then…
In the midst of this storm, Jesus has been my storm-whisperer. HE quiets me, soothes me, calms me. I feel strong and bold, ready to walk on water in the face of the tempest. And then new lab reports come in, pulse ox drops a few more points, a medicine stops being effective, and my feet begin to sink. If your focal point shifts from HIS power to your problems, you’re going down in a hurry. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the chaos around him. Keep your eyes upon Jesus!
Here’s the beautiful resolution and revelation. The Bible tells us that “immediately” Jesus saved Peter when he cried out, “Lord, save me”. Immediately. Sometimes, God gives us the choice to humble ourselves and realize our desperate need for HIM. And sometimes, HE will allow circumstances to come our way which will humble us and bring about the same result. You can know the power in the name of Jesus, but until you act on it, Jesus said it’s “little faith”. When we are cruising through life on perfect seas, we still know there is power in the Name, but until that emergent moment? That moment, when you’re world is erupting in fear? That is the moment you become intimate with your faith in that power.
We were traveling with my sister and brother-in-law. The rain was coming down so hard we were all trying to help my brother-in-law “see”. There was a semi beside us, one behind us, and suddenly, barreling down the entrance ramp to the highway was another semi. A certain crushing scene was coming. In unison, we yelled, “Jesus!” To this day, none of us actually saw or felt anything different, but just like that, we were well ahead of all the semis! The power in the name of Jesus causes immediate reaction on HIS part when HIS child is in danger. Never doubt that HE is with you!
I pray you come to know HIM intimately this year. Get into the Word and make it a revelatory experience every time. Run references. Scripture interprets scripture. Pull out a commentary and research to know what you are reading.
So, my question, “Wherein lies the Glory”, is answered simply in my sharing with you. If just one person can be inspired to go deeper in their relationship with God, then this journey will bring Glory to God.
Lord, take me deeper than ever before!
Happy New Year! I love you but Jesus loves you even more!!