Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Best Teacher

Well, I've made it through phase one of treatment and am feeling like I can finally look up and take stock of all that's happened in the past four months. To be honest, it feels a bit anti-climatic. I'm at a place where I feel like I'll never be done with treatment and life will never be normal again... but I'm trusting -no hoping desperately- that's not the case.

So, since the very nature of this long process has me feeling like I'm not making leaps and bounds physically, I started to consider all that I've learned through this experience... and, boy, have I learned some things so far!

I know that I'm not near the end of this journey, so I take hope in the fact that God is still working through it - even when I don't feel or see his work myself. I've come to a real appreciation of the fact that it's always harder to see the beauty of all the strokes in the big picture when you're standing right smack dab in front of the painting.

I've also learned patience in a new way. As crazy as it sounds, there's something comforting and even freeing about being able to rest in the hands of a sovereign God when you just simply can't have answers for the future. I've been told that I seem somehow resigned or less passionate about certain things. I can assure you that's certainly not the case! I've just found a new peace in knowing that no matter what comes of tomorrow... whether it's good or bad... I can trust God in it (at least I know that for today - something's telling me that's a lesson I'll be learning over and over again in the years to come).

I know that, even though I don't feel like I'm making a difference for God through this time in my life, everything I do speaks to the One in whom I've placed my trust to get me through. I've learned anew that what matters really isn't what's going on in my life; what matters is what I do with what's going on in my life. Whether I see it or not, I have faith that God is at work in it all and it's all an opportunity to be a witness for him.

I've also learned in a new way that the times in which we grow the most are always the difficult ones. It just seems to be a principle of life that we don't learn things as well when everything is going smoothly. Adversity gets our attention and tightens our focus. I've come to a belief that God divinely ordains suffering from time to time to do the work in and through us that he otherwise would not be able to. So, how can we balk at the trials in our lives? Yes, they are painful, but they are the fields in which God can stir up our hearts and grow us beyond what and who we are today. How can that be a bad thing in the end?

One more thing I've come to know is this: Through facing this adversity, I've found that I have a resource to draw on in Christ that may never have been realized quite the same way before. Certainly, he was always there... but how often in good times do many of us forget to look to the Lord? Through this deep and long valley in my life, I've learned that Jesus is there for me in a way like I cannot even explain with words. He has given me grace and strength for each day well beyond what I can conjure up on my own. I wish I could say that I feel like I have the strength to face the rest of my treatment with hope and joy, but that would be a lie. All I know is that Jesus has proven himself faithful and has given me what I needed for each day so far and I'm trusting him to continue to do that throughout the remainder of my treatment. The beautiful thing is that his grace doesn't change through good times and bad. It's always there for us to cling to!

I know that God has been growing me through all of this. That's for sure. The very fabric of who I am seems to be shifting into something else entirely. Though I'm still not quite sure what the end product is going to look like, I pray that it more closely resembles my Lord Jesus. That alone would be a lofty enough goal, but God is never one-dimensional in his work. For now, all I can say definitively is that the Potter's wheel and his furnace are still in good working order. I'm placed in them every day.

Before I go, let me be clear about one thing... the lessons I've been learning are not new perse. Rather, God has been peeling back the layers of my heart like an onion... driving me to a deeper understanding of him, myself, my faith, our relationship, and my purpose in this world. This is some crazy journey he has me on with detours I never would have expected, but I take comfort in knowing that he knows where he's going and he still has a good grip on the wheel!

"Prosperity is never a good teacher, but adversity is always an excellent teacher." ~ Dr. David Jeremiah

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