Are you there Nora, it’s me God?
I’ve been in a lull in the last 2 months. I haven’t written because I’ve been lost in thought, watching and waiting for God to show up and do his will. I admit that the one who had decided to bench herself was me. I don’t write because writing somehow accurately reflects where my mind is and it’s scary for me to look at myself.
Last summer I had an opportunity to go to a youth retreat. My sistah Sharon extended a very vague invitation to me. She said,”Come to the youth retreat with us and bring Savannah. Dress warm. Bring a sleeping bag and your bible.” (Well it went something like that, extremely vague.)
We met at our designated spot, packed up the van and took off to the camp when Sharon arrived. Sharon was the youth leader then , and accompanying were 5 teenage girls.
As is customary with me and Sharon, we get busy with our lives and days turn into weeks and very rarely, weeks into months pass between our get togethers. However we do manage to inject ourselves in each others life through our electronic devices. There have been times when it’s felt like God intervened because our conversations always turn back to him.
The hour and a half ride to the campsite was our time to catch up. Our conversations always start off by catching up about the kids, her husband, my mom and anything new. Then our focus shifts as we begin to share how God has manifested himself in our lives. Most of the time there is a parallel in the his messages for us but there are also times when he’s used one for the other. (most of the time it’s Sharon for me).
When we arrived, our first challenge, walk down the hill carrying all our own stuff. I was shocked to see my sis packing light, she usually comes prepared with more stuff I thought, but didn’t comment. She had said to bring a sleeping bag, warm clothing and the essentials. That’s exactly what I brought so my pack was lighter than usual as well.
We walked down the hill, checked in and headed towards our bunks. Up to this point, I’m taking in the beautiful camp grounds, the light coming in through the trees, greeting kids I knew…then we arrive at the “cabin”.
There were no window panes on the windows, instead there were thick tarps that came down and covered the opening. Same thing with the door. There was a huge tarp covering the door. There was no electricity!!! One of the girls who had been there the previous year had tied a camping lantern on a chord and hung it over a beam in the middle of the room. That would be our only light.
I was taken aback by how primitive and simple the space was. Where would I plug in my phone? Did the forest critters know how to slip in between these flaps? and would they? I’m not a camper! Can you tell? My idea of camping is a cabin in the san mateo hills with heat, outlets enough to keep the visitors friendly and a bathroom….did I mention that the bathroom was outside an inclined walk away?
After I got over my shock, I settled into my bunk. When Sharon saw my reaction, she finally was able to laugh as I had now become an accomplice to these conditions. In the end it made for a memorable experience, but living it minute by minute, you become aware of how accustomed we are to things and comfort. We really need for nothing.
Then it happened…we’ve learned that when we seek God’s presence we find it and he begins to speak to us. He makes his presence known to us through the worship or testimonies and by the time the speaker brings the message God has already prepared us to receive more of him.
The weekend was amazing. The messages that the guests brought were on point touching on topics like teen suicide, sex and relationships, walls we build around us, the topics go on , but one particular message planted a seed of yearning within me. A huge desire to know a definitive answer was planted in my thoughts.
The message was about physical healing. The speaker asked for those with physical pain, illnesses and disease to stand and repeat a prayer of healing. Well that applied to me on so many levels. I had a tear in a tendon in my elbow, I have no control over my diabetes, I’m obese, my vision is starting to get blurry and I continued to make a mental list of the rest of my aches and pains. I stood up.
He went into a fantastic prayer about healing and handing it all over to God. He said that if we believed in the words of this prayer and believed in the power of God that we would be healed that day. And that’s when doubt and reasoning struck my mind. The communion that I had built up with God up to that point shifted. My mind went from being lovey gooey with God to child and parent mode. I had questions and in my mind I was like a toddler berating him with “WHY? How? But…?”
The retreat ended and we headed for home.
The seed that been planted? Well in my way of thinking, I prayed that prayer, but I didn’t full heartedly believe it. In fact I didn’t believe it. It didn’t make sense to my logic… YES, MY LOGIC. My elbow required surgery to repair (that was August 2015, it’s February 2016 and it’s still not repaired. Worker’s comp, long story) My Diabetes I know will not heal if I don’t change my eating habits, exercise or change the way I think about myself and food. And this is where my questions sprung forth.
Could God Heal me? (yes he can) But my question was…Would God bless me with a miracle and cure me of all that ailed me if I didn’t make conscious changes to my life? If I continued eating junk with no discipline and I continued not exercising daily, sleeping 4 hours nightly, not taking my medications…would my diabetes just disappear?
And if I don’t have the surgery to repair the tear in my elbow and continue at the job I work at, loading about 2000 pounds a day…would my elbow just heal?
My mom, Sharon and I had deep discussions about God’s healing. We even went to a women’s conference where God sent a message that touched on healing. (always amazing when he’s eavesdropping and inserts himself in our lives when we least expect it) I mean we discussed this for several weeks following the retreat. I never received my definitive answer, but there was a lot of bible reading, visiting Jesus in the bible and the lepers and woman that he healed, but I still had questions.
It wasn’t just, could he heal me of everything? It was also, am I weak in my faith because I wasn’t healed from that prayer? And then…If he doesn’t heal me NOW, is there a purpose for the suffering?
And that my friends is where I am at this minute. I am getting my answers. My cousin was diagnosed with cancer a little over a year ago. Doctors gave her 3 months to live and she has been living with stage 4 cancer for over 7 months now.
Of course the family has asked God for healing. There are churches and an army of prayer warriors diligently praying for her recovery. Yet the cancer has remained and spread aggressively. My cousin has been a christian all her life and I think I can safely say confidently that she has also prayed for healing.
People and family members in desperation have approached her with oils, teas, methods, holy water and an array of alternative cures. Yet she has remained faithful in her belief that God will heal her. My question is…Yes, but is it his will to?
I have asked God to take everything from me and to carry me through some difficult seasons. I imagine that he carries me in his arms against his chest like the damsel in distress that I become. This time I feel he’s carrying me piggyback. I am on his back looking over his shoulders. He has his left hand under my bottom securing me to him. With his right hand he is doing his will. I am looking over his shoulder but from where I see things, I see only what he makes available for me to see.
I am watching from thousands of miles away how this cancer is racking my cousin’s body. I witnessed for an instant how her children,her mother, her brother and sister are also affected by this disease. I have heard bits and pieces of her testimony from others of her valiant and courageous fight in this battle. I have felt God’s presence in all of this. I have seen how events and people line up as if they were planned. Doors have opened and closed, I could go on…yet all the praying in this world has not stopped the spread of this infestation.
She lays in bed waiting for God’s miracle as do we. We witness his will daily yet refuse to accept it. In moments of despair we rally together as a family hugging each other, crying with each other hoping that our wills coincide with our Lord’s. Non believers ask when our God will show up. They don’t want to see that he is here holding us up.
So is it my weak faith or lack of more of it, or is it his will? At one of those moments of clarity which we have all had, we begin to realize that just maybe he has a more grandeur purpose for her illness and her testimony. We just barely grasp that her life and death will speak volumes of our faithfulness. We begin to prepare ourselves for that moment that if and when she passes he will embrace us and once again manifest himself through a caress of a breeze or in a gesture from a stranger during those gray days.
The family is in a kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions, planning and waiting, and hoping. We witness as things begin to fall into place and we celebrate every moment that is gifted to us because we don’t know for sure what comes next.
That my friends is the season that I am in. I am in total awe of his mercy and grace. I can take no step if he isn’t leading me. I look over his shoulder when he works and yet he sits by me as he teaches. It’s a wonderful process. I can feel God’s whisper direct me in my path. I get answers to my questions when I least expect it. I still have issues of letting things go but I’m learning (the tension in your grip weakens with a torn tendon in your elbow).
And yet isn’t this what we are asked to do, let go and let God. I sit back and watch God as her life slips away and her will to live goes on. Her body obviously shows signs of shutting down and yet her mind is clear but becomes cloudy with the battle her mind is waging against what our creator has created her for. As a family we continue to wait and hope. As a daughter of God, I just hold on and learn.
Sharon and I hadn’t been able to share a meal in a couple of months as is customary in our sisterhood. Life exerted itself again and god has been busy in our individual relationships with him. Last week she prepared a meal of steak and lobster. Catching up is priceless. Laughing at ourselves is a most joyous thing when shared with someone who appreciates that you’re a work in progress. Sharon also invited me to church where the message was about new beginnings and moving forward in the new season God has prepared for us.
So I end this blog here. I’m on my way to church with Sharon and my usual suspects for some more spiritual feeding.
God is amazing isn’t HE?