I have been silent on my blog for over a week. I attribute it to busyness but also to a picture of my heart. We have had a lot going on in life schedule-wise, but we have had a lot going on heart-wise, as well. I am running on fumes, and usually the things I write come out of my experiences and my heart learning.
After finding out more details about Greg’s Rheumatoid Arthritis at the doctor last Wednesday, I was pretty low. However, I moved into a very busy few days of celebrating for and with others. So, in shock, my heart was a bit constipated…if I can even believe I said that. I had no room to process–I simply tried my hardest to be present with others when I could not fully be present with myself and my own stuff.
I was in my friends’ wedding over the weekend–Natalie and Zach. It was a sweet time to celebrate with them and laugh. Natalie has been in the Bible study I lead off and on for five years. It was an honor to stand with her and reflect to see how God has grown her and been so faithful to her. Zach has also been very dear to both Greg and me as we have seen him grow in his faith. Greg was actually the matchmaker, and he says he is stopping his record at 100% success. So, no eharmonyesque future for him! I think one of my favorite times in my life was our rehearsal dinner where all the closest people to us came together at once and shared. I always love to go to other’s rehearsal dinners to hear the hearts of those there as they share about the couple. So, that was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Also, it was really neat to get to see behind the scenes with their families–the fun, the laughter and the dynamics. I came home emotionally and physically exhausted from the whole deal.
The next day, my family got together and celebrated my Great Uncle Charley’s 95th birthday. This is not a barely making it 95–it is a swim daily, drive long distances, live alone, cook your own meals, dance on the weekends, take Spanish classes 95. My Great Aunt Gladys died in 1990, so he has been making it alone for a long time. He is funny. He told a story how he was called “two wheel Charley” from racing Model T fords…crazy. It was good to see most of the family…we missed my niece and nephew, Sarah and Stephen, and my brother-in-law, John.
I then drove to my mom’s house in Athens, and I stayed there by myself to awaken early to be at the hospital with my dear friend, Cindy. She was induced at midnight to bring her first child into the world. We have known each other all our lives, but we really connected in close friendship between our freshman and sophomore years of high school when we both started walking consistently with Christ.
My friend, Amber, and I spent the morning with Cindy and Chris and her parents talking in the room with her. She and Chris chose to not know the sex of the baby until herm or shem arrived, so that was really exciting. They had a definite girl named picked out, but they were wavering on the boy name. So, the whole morning, we thought of ways kids would make fun of the names they were picking from. Ended up, that it was a girl…no stress for the name! I was honored to be there with her and to hold precious Audrey Elizabeth Parker when she was less than an hour old. Mom was a champ and so was dad! I think I consumed more caffeine in that day than the whole week before!
AFter goodbye kisses and hugs, I headed back to Knoxville to get home for Crossroad. Greg told the students about having RA at the end, and I wanted to be there for him. I was exhausted, though.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I got back to my regular schedule of meeting with girls. I had to cancel the week before because of my neck. It was good to fellowship with them–I missed it. When Wednesday night came, I cooked dinner and fell onto the couch.
All the things from the week were very exciting, but they were very exhausting, as well. In the back of my mind were all the unprocessed emotions and questions from all the stuff from the doctor the other day about Greg. I depend on time I have with God to go deep and study his word and pray using my journal, and with the schedule of the last 6 days, I had not gotten to really connect with Him. I had cried out throughout the time in short bursts, but I had not been in silence and connection deeply with Him.
All my emotions remind me of how I was after my dad died. I was numb and in shock. I knew the emotions were there, they just would not come. It was like the words between me and the Father had run dry, but I knew He was there faithfully carrying me. My heart did not know what to pray, but I knew He was praying on my behalf and others were also. I have felt that same sense, and I remember His faithfulness in that. I remember that this intensity will pass.
I did get to go outside on the backporch (because inside my house looks like a tornado hit:)) in the sun yesterday and pray and read God’s word. I asked for a heart to be thankful and think of all the ways He has shown His faithfulness. While God is stretching us in everyway–physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually–He is still faithful. He is still our Father. His promises are true. I must be disciplined to be thankful and not choose to be overcome with circumstance. Philippians 4 speaks of this:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say Rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
My prayer also comes out of another passage in Philippians 4:
For I have learned in whatever situation to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I am thankful for the plenty that God has so graciously given us, and even in need now, I want to be thankful for the intimacy of depending on Him deeper and deeper. It is through suffering that I have come to know Him in the deepest ways. I will not trade that from the past, and I have a feeling I will look back in several years and say I would not trade it for this time.
People, in their own way, have begun to say some pretty unbelievable things to us. Most of the things have to do with healing. ( I think sometimes people do not realize what they communicate when they say things…so, we pray to give them grace as we would hope they would give us.) We both believe that God can do whatever He wants to do… period. We pray for healing and quick remission. However, when people begin to speak about God as He does not want people to suffer or be sick or “you just need to have faith to be healed” (as if it depends on us and not Him), they are pridefully ignoring much of God’s word. It is spiritually abusive and false. I think a lot of times it is about the person’s spiritual pride and not true love and concern for Greg. We want people to pray for healing. We also want people to pray for a deepened relationship with God for Greg and me. We want Him to be glorified. If you think that He is not glorified through suffering…think on the Cross.
This life is not for our comfort…it is for our sanctification. (Romans 8:28-29) God sometimes loves us in the deepest, truest, richest ways by bringing suffering into our lives. For, we depend on Him and His all sufficiency and not ourselves and our circumstances. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (not our circumstances, feelings, etc but in HIM). Do we pray and long for healing? Most definitely. Does it define our relationship with Him if it comes or not? No. Do we rejoice when it comes? You betcha. Paul prayed for the thorn in his flesh to be removed…it was not. Peter was sifted, and he says in 1 Peter 4:13…”But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” James speaks of rejoicing in suffering and trials, but he also speaks of praying for healing. We do both.
Let us trust God wholly by clinging to the whole counsel of His word. May we not make an idol in our own image of Him. May we trust and know Him. I keep thinking and praying on a verse from Job…Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Job was not out of God’s hand…and we are not either. Our lives are nothing compared to Job’s, but I hurt in the circumstance. I trust the Lord, and I pray He draw us nearer and nearer and that we know Him more intimately. I pray that He be glorified and that His kingdom be pushed forward. He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer, our Physician, our Healer, our Father.