(Find part 1 here.)
To go forward, I feel we must go back. Back to five years ago when God dramatically interrupted my life. And with the same words He had used to encourage Joshua as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, God had warned me over and over to be strong and courageous. He had warned me just like He had warned Peter three times in the garden to pray. Peter may have fallen asleep, but I took off running.
Like a dutiful, worried patient, I went to this doctor and ran the tests they suggested. Then I went to that doctor and had this scanned. The symptoms kept coming and I kept running. With each pounding heartbeat I felt like a ticking time bomb. I couldn’t sleep because my heart was beating so fast and my blood pressure was suddenly as high as the boiling point over the temperature of a summer’s day in Arizona.
I saw cardiologists and nephrologists and endocrinologists and rheumatologists. I searched webmd, mayoclinic.com, wrongdiagnosis.com, emedicinehealth, medscape and I learned about hyperthyroidism and pheochromocytomas and hyperaldosteronism. I even learned that too much black licorice can cause high blood pressure. And the tests. Oh, the tests. I had tests I never knew existed and I wish I still didn’t.
And in all this time, I prayed. Sometimes. But my prayers weren’t being answered. God was silent. There are times when no sound is as booming as the silence of God. And I went from feeling puzzled to anxious to downright angry. Before every doctor visit I prayed hard that God would lead me and give the doctor wisdom. And then the doctor would suggest a scan or a blood test or some other test that could be used by the government as a way to get information from its enemies. And every time I was hopeful. And every time I’d get a call saying everything was “normal.” Now you’d think that hearing that everything is normal would be good news. But the thing was, I didn’t feel normal. And I knew I wasn’t normal. Something was very wrong, but no one was listening. Least of all, I thought, God.
Somewhere along the way I began to think God must be angry with me to allow me to fall into this Alice in Wonderland existence. And suddenly I found myself wondering who God was. I had come to the intersection in the road of the believer’s walk called Disillusionment. I had been a Christian for 15 years, but the God I thought I knew wasn’t reacting the way I thought He should. I no longer really understood who God was, how to talk to Him, much less how to hear from Him. Every road I turned down seemed to taunt me with a Dead End sign.
But I had forgotten to do something. Something God whispered in my ear over and over before the trial began. I had forgotten to be strong and courageous. Now, lest you take those words and translate them to mean what humans seem to automatically think they mean - be strong, don’t be a wimp! Don’t be cowardly or weak, be brave, fearless - let me tell you, they mean something much more. When God uses the words strong and courageous, He's not talking about strength or courage from a human perspective.
To be strong means to fasten upon, to seize, to bind, to cleave. It means to cling to the only One Who has strength, and that is the Lord. We have no strength in ourselves. We are but weak humans with sinful urges and weaknesses toward temptations. God knows that we can only walk this walk and face these trials in His supernatural strength. That is where our victory and joy lie.
And to be courageous means to be alert, attentive and careful. God had wanted me to be careful to listen to Him so that I would know His will and follow it. But I wasn’t listening. Oh, I thought I was. But it seems as though I was listening to everyone but God. And as all parents know and try to explain to our children, there is a difference between listening and listening.
I may have been listening with my ears, but not with my heart. My heart was too worried and anxious to sit and really listen to what the Lord wanted to say to me. And none of it had anything to do with my physical health.
This seems to be turning into a multi-part-er. Stay tuned again!