Six months ago I meant every word I said to him. Arms spread wide on my living room floor, tears streaming down my cheeks, and more peace in my heart than I thought a lifetime could hold, I asked him to use me. Not in a small way. Not just to impact my family. Not only that day or month. I had a big vision and wanted to play a role in impacting the world. Any way you choose, I said. I am willing.
Six months ago I imagined how this yes to him would progress. I saw myself speaking truth, obeying each prompting, shining brightly so others would ask questions. My excitement over new clarity was evident. Worry was not even on the radar.
Yet, one month ago I was face down on my pillow, tears streaming down my cheeks, enduring more pain than I thought a body should have to face, and asking God big questions. "What good am I to you if I am in pain all the time?" "Why won't you heal my headaches?" "Was I wrong to trust you?" "Why does pain have to be a part of my story?" "What are you doing in all this?"
See, I had said yes, but I forgot to tell him he could use me any way except in a way that brought me or my family pain. There was no addendum. I didn't specify to make it easy, convenient, stress-free, or simple, although I probably silently hoped that would be the case.
When I opened wide my arms, I let go of control. I gave up the right to be upset about the way he chose to direct my steps. Am I happy that I hurt more days than I don't. Of course not. I didn't cease being human and wanting life to be comfortable.
But what if comfortable and easy are not what is going to shape me into the person he wants me to be? What if struggling produces perseverance and character and hope? What if my testimony reaches farther from a bedside than it does from an auditorium? I have no idea what all is taking place behind the scenes, who is learning what lesson, or how this will play out two or twenty years from now.
After all my questions that night, with tissues surrounding my pillow, I fell asleep with a heart full of peace. He has been beside me - within me - every minute of every hard and easy day. And really, I don't want to be in control of how this plays out. I don't have enough wisdom to orchestrate my life and make it as fruitful as possible.
My life is in his hands. I prayed a bold prayer and expected great results. Dangerous? Absolutely. I trust that the results will be greater than I could have ever imagined. Somehow this is weaving together for my good and his glory.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:2b-4 NIV)
There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. (Philippians 1:29 MSG)
...all the things
I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the
high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand,
everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.
I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be
embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of
righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get
the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I
gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally,
experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go
all the way with him to death itself. (Philippians 3:8-10 MSG)
God, I have no idea what you are doing right now in my life with this suffering, but I know that you are always in control. You never leave me and nothing is wasted. You are weaving together a much greater story than I could ever imagine. I am so glad I have been given a glimpse of the glorious ending. I do not regret my bold prayer. Help me to walk with you in that boldness each day. Amen.