|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
55 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
These verses, especially the one in bold above, have meant a little more to me as of late than they have in the past. They fill my heart with a peace and joy that is hard to explain, but I'll definitely try.
It all started back a few years ago when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Back then I thought very little about God's plan for my life where illness and suffering were concerned. I thought that Fibro was a bump in the road, and that surely God didn't plan it to be in my life - it just was. I have realized since then that, though God is not the cause of our suffering (that ultimately is caused by sin), He does allow it for reasons that are sometimes only known to Him.
How can I say that? Well, my thinking on this began to change drastically back in June. Though I've only alluded to it in my Monthly Milestones posts, my health has been a challenge, especially since June. I've had more sensitivities to foods (IBS is a daily occurrence if I don't watch what I eat), exercise or a lack thereof is affecting my strength and fatigue levels more than ever, and the amount of migraines I've been having has risen exponentially, and they are lasting longer, too. I've had tests for bleeding disorders because I'm bruising easier, I had an ASCUS pap in July (which was of no concern after further looking into it), I've been diagnosed with Fibrocystic Breast Disease or Fibrosis (Hurray for no cancer, but I still have to be diligent to check for new/growing lumps. I have to go back in a year, sooner if I notice something new, but no surgery or biopsies for now.), and have recently had some issues feeling like I was swallowing around a lump in my throat which I have to keep an eye on (they think it is allergy/illness related and caused by excess phlegm, not thyroid, since it seems to be improving). I've even been having random 99 range temperatures more often than not. I feel very much like a freak of nature, and I have found myself asking God "why?" a lot.
You see, I let myself get to the point where I got angry. I found myself looking around at all the healthy people. I found myself looking in the mirror and being upset that I can't lose weight like "normal" people or that I can't seem to get and stay healthy. I was feeling picked on, and I let God know it. I quite simply cried out to Him with, "Really, Lord? Really? But I have plans! I have goals! I want to serve You and take care of my family! Is that so wrong? Why have you left me so helpless?"
Oh, yah. I went there.
And you know what He whispered back? "I know you have plans...But you never thought to ask about Mine."
No, I hadn't thought about God's plans. I couldn't see what His purpose was for allowing me to face such darkness. I didn't see how light could come from trial. Sometimes, I still struggle to see it. Truth be told, it still looks like dark. I feel like a little child alone in a dark room, waiting for the monsters to come out of the closet.
Here's the thing that God has been showing me, though. He is showing me that He has chosen me to walk through the dark. He is asking me to take the scary path. I don't know why, but I do know this: The path that I want to go down of good health and service is NOT the path that I think it is.
You see, I see the easy path. You know the one. The one with the flowers and no twists and turns. It is well lit and beautiful, and it looks perfect. But, that's just it: It just looks perfect. I can't see that it leads to a drop off that will put me in great danger. I can only see the immediate. It is not the right path for me.
God's path for me looks a bit like the things nightmares are made of. It looks like that scary dark room, and I'm that little child who is freaking out looking at all the shadows. I've cried out to God, my Father, and asked Him to turn on the lights, only to find that He is offering a flashlight to illuminate only a little at a time.
"See?" He says, "That's not a monster. It's a rocking chair. It's where I will sit and hold you when you cry, need comfort, or when you need some time alone with Me."
He shines His light in another dark corner and says, "And that's nothing to fear. It's just a pile of books that will teach you many wonderful things."
The lights go out again, and I realize that the shapes in the dark are not what they seem to be. They are things that will be or are sources of comfort and learning. The light, His light, shows us that the things that go bump in the night are not what they appear - they are things for our learning and our joy...if we don't give into the fear.
Best yet? God is there with us to hold our hands, just like any good parent would do for a frightened child. And you know what? I am just such a child. I have been frightened of the unknown, I've wanted the lights on, I've wanted the easy and the known, but that's not what God has for me. He has a plan that will be more beautiful, more amazing, and more wonderful than I could ever imagine...If I'm willing to trust Him.
So, here is where I am. I am in the dark with a flashlight, holding onto God's hand as tightly as I can. I don't know what's in the dark. I am admittedly a bit afraid, but God is showing me that He is there, and it is His plan. I will come through it better than I could ever imagine, if I just hold onto Him, even if the results seem scary and bad, they aren't. They are lessons to be learned that can be learned no other way. They are the way to greatness and love that is beyond understanding. They are His thoughts and His ways...and I trust Him.
Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I've gotten very few answers regarding my health, but tests have come back "normal" or "inconclusive", and we just have to wait and see. God has given me some encouraging things to help me along my dark path (like great prayer warrior friends and amazing family), and for that I am grateful. I am humbled that He'd choose me to go through these things, and so very grateful He's with me each step of the way.