I’ve faced new adversity this week and experienced both deep struggle and great peace. This contrast is significant to me, and the battle to strike a balance is so palpable and real. I have teetered on a tall, tall fence–fear and worry and hopelessness on one side, and God and grace, rest and joy on the other. Invited into our lives, God’s relentless pursuit and presence is unparalleled in power. I am amazed.
Last week, I went for my annual checkup. I am 32 and generally quite healthy. I never go to the doctor expecting for the sky to fall–I just head there, glad that my next wellness visit will be 365 days later. I have been so fortunate.
This visit did not meet my vision.
My doctor noted several areas of concern and ordered a few big (to me) tests. I trust his judgment almost implicitly, and I know that he doesn’t regularly jump the gun. We are always straightforward with one another–something I appreciate so highly about him. Because of this, he tells me things honestly and doesn’t mince words or thoughts, good or bad. I’m glad and I want it that way. But I’d heard words like mass and cancer and “healthy two years from now…” and I couldn’t get them out of my head. Despite his encouragement not to worry, fear welled up easily and quickly. I tried to look past myself and my thoughts, but I wasn’t able. I looked to my army instead.
I shared with a few close friends and our closest family and I asked for prayer. Ok, I begged for prayer. And I begged in prayer. My tests were scheduled for a whole week later, which seemed like a lifetime. I spent the weekend trying to be distracted and noticing every little thing about life….our kids, our relationships, the sunrise, the sunset, the sense that God was right here with me, in spite of my penchant for worry and all of the looming possibilities. In moments, I could block out all of the negative thoughts and what if’s, and in others, I was terrified. Still human over here.
I think my mind wandered to 1,000 places. Diligently fighting back the bad thoughts was hard, hard work, but I had so much help. And I have to say, even when I let myself slip into the very worst possibilities, I found God reminding me of the good. Quite gratefully, I tasted a new longing for the promises of eternity. I gained empathy in a new light. I found myself relishing moments I often look past. I wish it didn’t take such dramatic and traumatic experiences for me to pay this notice in the daily, always, but I am thankful for the practice. Grace showed up in the opportunity to exercise my pursuit and recognition of Christ.
I have been to the most desperate places of my heart this week, dear friends. I have begged on my knees. And I have rested in some of the greatest peace. It is WORTH it to pursue Christ. So, so worth it. He can meet us where we think there is only room for despair–and He WANTS to–isn’t that crazy?! All we have to say (and I did this a lot this week when I didn’t have words) is JESUS. With that, we’ve invited Him in. Weighty mountains will move.
My tests were Tuesday and Wednesday. I was so encouraged and blessed by all of the texts and loving “thinking of you” messages filling up those two days. I felt surrounded in lonely, isolating places. I am not a good patient, but we muddled through. And after the tests were over? Peace. So much peace. Even before the results came in. I’ve since heard from two doctors–one mine and one new, and mine had great news. A normal CT scan, ruling out every major abdominal issue or concern. You can imagine how much my heart danced at that news! The weight of that worry, lifted in an instant. The second bit of news wasn’t as simple, but what I’ll say is that God is busy at work answering prayers. Still, peace, despite the unknowns that we’ll sort through in the weeks to come.
A grateful heart doesn’t really cover where I am today. There is no way I could experience such rest or peace or joy outside of God. I am overwhelmed by His presence, truly. And I am waiting expectantly, hopeful as I get to sit back and watch what God will do. No matter the outcome, this is all a part of my story and I will praise Him in the waiting. He is the only one with enough grace to wash over me completely and to water down my biggest fears.
If you do not find rest in the arms of a loving God, where do you go for true peace? If you don’t know where to begin, but you need peace desperately, the ask is actually simple: Jesus? Jesus, I need you. Can you find me in this mess? I don’t want to do this on my own. Help.
He doesn’t even have to look for you–He knows right where you are. He knows right where we are. And He wants to be invited. Our messes and our failings don’t surprise Him, and He does not condemn. He just…loves. Where are your mountains today? What do you need God to move? Believe that He can do it, and He will. No one can know better what we need than the God who created us. I believe that with all my heart.
grace and peace beyond measure, dear ones.
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”