Friday, May 31, 2013

His Joy Is My Strength

I have learned the secret of having abundant health and living with chronic pain (a paraphrase of Paul's statement of contentment in Philippians 4:12.) At least I thought I had learned this.

That is until last Sunday.  It was Memorial Day weekend.  We had enjoyed a fun Saturday of drama practice, a movie, then dinner out.  All seemed to be promising a wonderful weekend even with the rain predictions.

But on Sunday I woke feeling, well, not myself.  It wasn't my normal tiredness and The Pain brought on by fibromyalgia and the past stress of a week watching 3 kids and welcoming a grandson into the world. It wasn't a cold or flu bug.  It was, literally, all in my head.  Dizziness.

I shrugged if off and we headed out to coffee at Starbucks then to worship our Lord and Savior.  And why would I shrug it off?  Because I have found that the Lord blesses me when I press on and head for that goal trusting Him to get me through it all. It WAS the last Sunday School class with our graduating 8th graders and I wanted badly to hug a few of them.

But into the 2nd or 3rd worship song, I felt that prickly warm feeling that I have experienced only a few times in my life.  It starts at my shoulders then creeps up my neck to my cheeks and into my scalp.  My vision grew tunnel-ly dark on the edges and bright in the center.  And I knew I would soon hit the floor.

So I sank down to my chair.  (I guess I must have really sank hard because later my hubby told me the guy behind me was ready to catch me!  Thanks Dwight!)

Needless to say, I begged to go home and we did.

I was so let down.  Had my faith failed me?  Was I not trusting as I normally do on Wednesday nights when God would bless me with His joy for my strength?  I had the remembrance that He would help me forget The Pain for those few hours I was loving on the middle school kids.

Now I realize that maybe I have not reached the place where I could stand with Paul and proclaim that I had learned the lesson, the lesson of contentment with pain, the lesson of submission to God's plan for me.

Maybe I needed to be humbled.

Wait!  That is exactly what I have been praying about lately.  Humility.

You see there is such a fine line between being gifted and used by God AND remaining humble.  I have been fearing that I was walking by sight lately, and not truly seeing faith. For over 20 years I have tread the path of encouraging young ladies between 6th and 12th grades.  Twenty years.  That's a long time.  Yet it seems to be so short.

And I think I know why it has not felt so long.  When you are in the center of God's will for your life, His joy covers everything.  Twenty years covered in God's joy is but a blink of the eye.

Twenty years doing the same type of thing with His joy CAN become a habit, something I can do without much preparation.  Something I've been trained to do.  And there lies the rub.  That thin line between relying on His joy as my strength verses relying on what I know I can do.

I have been burdened with these thoughts of late.  Am I walking by sight or by faith.  Sight says you've done this before, you can do it again and again.  Faith says I am nothing in light of my holy God and I can do nothing, No Thing without His strength.

Which do I prefer?  The first because it feels good to accomplish things on my own, feeling like I've learned something over these 20 something years.  Yet, doing it in God's strength is even better.  Before hand when I am preparing and praying it may not seem so easy.  And even during it can seem down right painful.  But afterward when I look back and can see that He worked through me!  Used me!  To accomplish this task, well, that is so much more better.

So I have prayed that God would keep me humble.  That He would empty me of me and make it all about Him.  Like the Toby Mac song, Steal My Show, I want it to be about Him and not me.

Was this His answer to my need to be humble, a physical weakness that kept me home?  Did it drive me to my knees?  I have to admit that it did not.  It is hard to admit weakness when your family is relying on you to be strong and help them out.  I did ignore some things, like the mission work I do on-line, but I couldn't let my girls down.  And I had no strength to enjoy my grandgirls any more than to pray.

Ann Voskamp wrote, "Giving thanks is only this:  making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God." (Ann Voskamp's blog, post How To Live Through the Really Hard Storms.)

So, this morning, I did what she suggested.  I thanked God for even this:  weakness and stillness.  I thanked Him, though deep down I probably didn't really feel thankful.  But I know with the obedience comes feelings.

I guess I'm still learning the lesson.  I plan to see the Doc tomorrow and see what's up.  In the mean time, I have to keep begging for His joy as my strength.  (Sinus infection: Yup.)

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

1 comment:

  1. Note from me: The PA listened and looked and read my info and we determined I might have a sinus infection even though I had few symptoms (a little pain, the dizziness and very little green gook. She ended our time by saying off-handed, "I think it is your sinuses and not a stoke"!! Okay, I did freak a little and looked stuff up, but in the long run, I am still in God's hands and in the center of His will for my life. I'm taking the antibiotic and praying that I'll soon be back on my knees again. Thanks all my FB friends! Peggy