My church home recently started a new book study on “Grace Walk” by Steve McVey. The first chapter “Miserable Mediocrity” really got me to thinking about how often I truly put God first and not let Him have complete control over situations. When I speak about my faith with others, I find myself comparing my faith with theirs. As is usually the case, one person is the “winner” and one is the “loser.” I know that this is wrong. I can be judgmental about how someone else lives out their faith, and then, I look at myself and say, “Wow! What was I thinking? I certainly don’t have it all together, why am I picking them apart?” Is my faith strong? Yes. Do I always living it out? No. I do my best, which as everyone knows isn’t always good enough. I want to be better. I want to be more. Why do some people have amazing moments of God touching their lives and others don’t? It is with this question that I realized, we all have amazing moments with God, some people are just more aware of it and listen to His still, small voice in their lives. I often pray that when God speaks to me that He present it with neon lights and a megaphone, that His direction for me be clear and without ambiguity. Why do I do this? I finally figured out it is because I don’t take the time to listen for His voice and direction regularly.
I think back in my life to when I have felt closest to God. Turns out, most of those times were when life was not fair at all. Tragedy and illness come to the top of the list. When my sister was in the hospital with pancreatitis, when my nephew had a brain tumor and was going through surgery, when the doctor called and told me I had a brain tumor, when the USA was in shock on September 11. These are just a few times that I could not handle what was happening around me. I did not have the strength to deal with the situations on my own. There is the old saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…” but people often forget the rest of the saying “…with His strength.”
In all of the situations I listed above, I cried, I yelled, I pleaded, but mostly I prayed. I prayed for healing, strength, guidance, comfort, love, and peace. The difference in all of those situations is that in only one of them did I finally pray, “Dear Lord, I don’t know what You have planned for me, but I give You my tumor. I give You my worry and stress. I ask that You use me in whatever manner You need.” That was 3 or 4 days after my doctor called to give me the news that I had a tumor in my brain, specifically on my pituitary stalk, that was causing some health problems. After that prayer, I relaxed. I won’t say that I didn’t still think about it or that I didn’t talk about it, in fact, I named it Norm – partially for my Grandpa that died before I was born, and partially for it being my new Normal. Once in awhile, I would get sucked into all of the “What if” questions…What if it grows? Should I have surgery or not (they would have to go through my nose)? What would happen to my husband if I died?
Three months after I received that phone call, I had an episode at work where I suddenly was seeing 3 of my boss sitting in front of me while we were talking. He said I went pale as a ghost, then bright red, and then I burst into tears. I called the doctor and we did another MRI. Turns out, it was 3 months of my life that I thought I had a brain tumor, but they had misread the scans. Yes, I had a thickening in my pituitary stalk, but it is normal (guess I picked the right name!). I of course was relieved and thankful that there wasn’t a tumor after all. But to me, it was a miracle. Not necessarily that there wasn’t a tumor, but because I finally gave it all to God. I gave my sickness, my worry, my fear all to Him. For the first time, I hit rock bottom and had no one else to turn to – yes, I had family and friends, but they could do nothing to fix the problem. I trusted that God had a plan and gave myself to whatever it was He had in store for me.
You would think that after that experience it would be easy to just hand everything over to Him. I wish that was the case. Turns out, I am still a control freak and want to manage every situation. It is not until I reach rock bottom that I hand over control, when the situation is completely out of my control. Perhaps that is why the brain tumor issue was easy for me to give up, because I knew that there was nothing I could do about it. Although I don’t always give up complete control, I have found that I do stop a little more often and thank God for what I have. I stop and ask for guidance and strength. I pray throughout the day, as I enter go about my work day – seeing clients, doing surgery, even figuring out dosages – I take small moments to talk to God. Sometimes it is a prayer of thanksgiving, sometimes a prayer for guidance, sometimes it is literally just a word to say “Hey, I love You.” I have no problem talking to God, but I have figured out that I need to take more time to listen to God. To let my heart and soul dwell within Him, so that I can hear His voice.
I don’t know where you are with your walk right now – with Him, without Him, scared of Him, or don’t even believe in Him. Just know that wherever you are, He is there and He loves you.