One doesn’t light a sacrificial fire without a sacrifice at hand and ready. One doesn’t lift hands in surrender without something pressing to yield. As Bill Johnson writes in A Life of Miracles, “He’ll [Christ] give us His baptism of fire if we’ll give Him something worth burning.”
And we so recklessly pray to be living sacrifices, chosen ones, Spirit-filled believers. Some would deem us unpardonably foolish.
Yet, for those of us who have tasted of the mystery of fire, we know without a shadow of doubt that glory is revealed through flames (Click here to read more). Pain ushers in a realm of sweet communion with the Creator who never stops fashioning His children into intricate works of art.
Sometimes, I honestly wonder if it is worth it. The flames. The pain. The constant give and take of surrender. I admit…I’m weak.
This week a sweet young girl sat on a chair in my classroom as teachers gathered around to pray for supernatural healing. She is suffering from a disease that is currently wreaking havoc with her digestive and immune systems. Life is not fair, and my heart breaks for her and her incredible family.
However, I did not specifically pray words of comfort. I did not pray that she would “be content with whatever God’s will turns out to be.” Rather, I prayed that she would struggle and struggle well. I prayed that she would experience and engage with each emotion as they try to overwhelm her…anger, grief, anger, sadness, anger, joy, anger, pain. A wise friend once prayed that prayer over me, and their words still ring in my ears when I am once again required to surrender something I hold as precious.
So often in the Christian community I feel that we not so subtly suggest that people ignore the roiling emotions present during tragedy and rather assume a posture of “perfect contentment” with the broken situation. And, while I believe we must encourage one another to “keep the faith” and “trust in Christ,” I do not believe that we must be victims. I also do not believe that we must settle for the imperfection still manifested on earth.
We. Can. Be. Angry. Very angry, actually. The command in the Bible is to be angry and sin not. Don’t turn your back on the Holy One. Rather, face Him and make your complaint known. Beseech that His Kingdom invade the earthly, broken one so obviously uncomformed to His Will. Then, wait. Let Him do battle.
Bill Johnson writes in A Life of Miracles that, “Contentment short of God’s purposes would mean having to learn to live with the enemy.” Some of us have a lot of enemies staring us in the face. Let’s not live with them.
Yet, even as I write this post, I acknowledge the seeming contradiction between surrendering to God’s refining process and wrestling with the enemies dogging our paths. How does one balance yielding with battle?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the key is honesty.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39, NLT). Bloody sweat ran down His face, as Christ agonized over the imperfection of which He was about to partake. Still, He partook. He was marred and broken beyond recognition. And, we are changed, perfected, beautified, refined. Still, He did not deny the fact that the cup of suffering was less than desirable. The Glory to come did not prevent Him from engaging with the emotions of tragedy. And, He was God. I take heart at His example.
The next several months weigh heavy on my heart. Apart from teaching nearly 100 seventh grade students on a weekly basis, I am once again at a crossroads with my health. If I could have chosen a battle, this would not have been the one. Something so intimate, so personal, so weakening. Yet, here I am. Ultimately, I know God’s purposes will be fulfilled. His perfection will shine through my brokenness. But, right now I’m anxious. Impatient. To some extent, rebellious. While my mouth cries “Yes, Lord,” my heart screams, “No, no, no!”
Hours ago I was on the phone with one of the best reproductive endocrinologists in the nation. Based out of Houston’s medical center, his expertise is well known, and my care now rests in his hands. Tickets are purchased to fly to Texas in about three weeks for in-depth diagnostic testing that will include a semi-surgical procedure. It’s time to figure out what is going on. Very high insulin (surprisingly) is suspected. Wacky hormonal levels are pretty much confirmed. What else is wrong is anybody’s guess, but as one doctor wryly remarked, “You’re body doesn’t follow the rules.” Great. Thanks for that observation.
I should be enjoying a healthy, active season of relishing my 20s and everything else that usually means. I should be teaching without considering the need to take off several weeks at a time to take care of my own health. I shouldn’t be worrying about insulin or hormones or diseases related to these factors.
I buck at the constraints of this battle. I fight with the warring emotions lodged in the twists and turns of this journey.
And, I surrender. Finally. It’s been a long time coming. This surrender. This yielding. This honesty. I hate much of this journey, but it is what it is. My thorn in the flesh. My refining fire. My fear. One day, my joy.
Tonight, I’m just being honest.