I am reminded today that we have such a limited view. There is so much about this world, this life that we do not understand. Some try to organize the chaos, some try to embrace it with acceptance. Still others have a deep resolve that there must be more.
Over the last few years, I have been walking a road with one of my closest friends that has stretched me in ways I never knew I could. Bent me until I thought I would literally break only to have the cool wind of Jesus blow and then I was suddenly upright again.
My friend is traveling a road that far too many seem to be traveling. It is a road paved of suffering, hope, disappointment, love, frustration, comfort, pain, joy, grief, acceptance, questions, few answers, more question, silence. Prayers lifted, promises made, FAITH unshakable FAITH displayed. So this is what Jesus meant when he said, "...In this world you will have trouble...” (John 16:33) So many walking this road. The cause of the suffering with different labels, self-imposed and unprovoked, but pain is no respecter of persons or cause. Pain just hurts.
The rest of that verse says "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I have watched my friend walk an overcoming journey. She has overcome a body that some days just wont let her do what her spirit is leaping to do. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of her journey this far. Yet, I am not with her 24-7. As close as we are, I still only have a tiny peek into her world.
The facts are she has faced an autoimmune disorder that has attacked her liver. She was on the liver transplant list for 4 years. Then last summer it was time. The call came and we prayed. She had a successful surgery and when it all seemed but a done deal, things took a turn we could never have seen coming. The new liver in her body was failing. Just days before she was to go home from her first transplant, a storm like no other was on the horizon.
Living in Texas, storms are something we watch closely. The weather here changes quickly and what can look like a tiny blip on the radar soon shows rotation. Skies turn green and sirens sound. That was this day that summer. No, outside my physical window skies were blue and clear, but inside my heart a storm was raging.
We prayed. OH how we prayed. God was faithful to comfort, love, and give us hope. Her surgeons almost lost her. God showed his faithful face and did what he had said he would do. She survived. Walking into her ICU room a few days later, no one could have prepared my heart. She was bruised, her eyes bloodshot, she was almost unrecognizable. This is what a body looks like when it is fighting so hard to stay alive. There were lots of ups and downs and the road to healing after this surgery was much longer and more challenging than even her medical staff had imagined. She was now home, with her two children and husband. Now, feeling more surefooted on the road to recovery. Yet her body still seemed to be fighting. We just couldn't make sense of why. 2 liver transplants, God's promises, so much faith, and fighting. A few weeks back, she shared an encouraging conversation she had with another special friend that has walked this road with her, even longer than I.
That friend was talking about heavenly perspective. God's sovereignty. The place those of faith grasp at when life makes no sense at all. The place those not of faith call a weakness in the human condition. She shared with my sweet friend how we are like children looking through a knothole in a wooden fence. Which inspired me to see what I could "see" throughmy own fence and lens.
My conclusion from this little experiment? Our view is so limited. we only see a tiny circle of what is on the other side. When looking through the fence, we see through the cracks and sometimes get to press one eye against a knothole to see a tiny bit more. We know from this view there is grass, and a tree, possibly a few houses in the distance.
It isn't until we walk through the gate, that we actually see what is there. A tree, a field , a creek bed, a neighborhood. What even this expanded view wont tell you is , that field is covered in flowers some springs, forts have been made, kites have been flown, 4-wheelers have worn a track. The creek bed that is usually dry, sometimes trickles with life giving water and the ducks love to land there. That tree... Oh that tree has seen some storms. A few years back, we thought it was dead. A storm came through, busted out our windows, our fence was destroyed, and this tree was struck by lightning. The next spring, it started to sprout leaves.
Now a few years from the storm that sent the lightning, new branches grow. This tree doesn't look as beautiful as it once did. The new branches grow straight up. Today as I looked at this tree I couldn't decide which looked more unnatural. The limbs that were not damaged at all? They still maintain a shadow of what this tree once was. Or the new growth, shooting straight toward the sky limbs stretched high to the source of all that gives this tree life. It is in constant praise and thanksgiving for just being able to grow some more. "YES!" It seems to scream, "YES SUN! SHINE ON ME! YES RAIN POUR DOWN AND I WILL DRINK! YES BIRDS COME NEST HERE." This tree doesn't care if it's shaped perfectly. It only wants to continue to grow and in the process, it takes the very thing we humans see toxic, carbon dioxide, and converts it into LIFE GIVING Oxygen!
Yes there is so much that even with an expanded view we can not see. As my friend sits in ICU, awaiting yet again, for a 3rd time, for a liver and this time a kidney also, battling infections and missing out on her children's "every day, " I am filled with peace. I may not know the exact details of God's plan. There are some things I do know.
I Know my God, a.k.a:
Elohim "The Sovereign, Mighty Creator", Jehovah "The Unchangeable, Intimate God", El Shaddai, "The All-Sufficient One", Adonai "Lord and Master" Jehovah Jireh "The Lord My Provider" Jehovah M'Kaddesh "The Lord My Sanctifier", Jehovah Nissi, " The Lord My Banner of Victory" Jehovah Rophe, " The Lord My Health", Jehovah Shalom, "The Lord My Peace, and Wholeness", Jehovah Shammah, "God is there", El Elyon, "God Most High", Jehovah Makkeh, " The Lord Who Molds Me", Jehovah Elohay, " The Lord MY God", Jehovah Eloheenu, " The Lord Our God"
He has spoken to my heart about my friend's life and journey and I stand firm on the promises he has given me. I try to only hear what he has said, not what I want him to mean. He has given me hope, and peace on this road as I hold her hand, physically and spiritually.
Yet there is one thing nagging my spirit. He has highlighted for me, so many people are walking this road of suffering and they don't know him. They don't have a church family to speak life into a place that is all but dead. They don't know anyone who shows them real love and compassion. They don't have anyone to infuse courage in the moments of their worst nightmare. The reality is no matter how amazing our churches are, most of those people will never set foot in a church building. I ( and so many of those I call friends) are blessed tobe where we are. We have been given much from an earthly and heavenly kingdom perspective. What are we doing with it? We've had teaching and revelation, we've had gifts and talents imparted to us. We've experienced life changing encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we church gluttons? Jesus asked those who were willing, to leave everything and follow him. That means going where he went, doing what he did and not looking back or clinging to ANYTHING. Not family, not possessions, not the outcome of a situation, not businesses, hobbies, schooling, status, power, or even basic needs. Does this sound radical to you? It did in Jesus' day also.
I leave this post here. Food for thought. What do you and I have that we are not willing to part with? That is the very thing God is asking us to lay down at his feet. I'm not judging. Nope! I am walking this out right along side you. I am seeking his face and pressing in to see what it is that he calls us to do as his precious bride. If you feel a rising of excitement in you, I am cheering you on. If you feel your defense bells ringing, (I DO TOO!) But despite my fears, defenses, excuses and honestly despite me, I am attempting to put down my net of control and allow him to make me a fisher of men.
A wise woman told me just this week in such love, " Jamie, just make sure your faith is in the HEALER, not the healing." Those words hit my heart like a ton of bricks. Then I felt the shift. Like I was being propelled into zero gravity. Floating weightless suspended in space and time. My faith is in GOD. WHO HE IS. NOT what I think He DOES. Because I am just peering through the knothole of a fence into all that is this world. When my perspective is adjusted and my view is enlarged to that of the digital age, 4752 x 3168 mega pixels and then blown up on a computer screen, or even viewed outside my backyard gate with my own eyes. My perspective is still limited, still human, still flawed. I have to trust that the one who calls us to his side, who created us and died for us knows what he is doing even when I can't see. If I believe this, then I will do all he asks and more so that others can walk with him in that same freedom.