I'm a little late in looking back over 2018, but better late than never, right? My "word" for 2018 was "embrace". In choosing this word, I wanted to go into the year with arms wide open - ready to embrace everything God had in store for me. I started reading through the Bible again and had an anticipation about how God was going to speak to my heart.
I had visions of closeness, contentedness, revelation, and "Ah-ha" moments. I wanted to be alive in the Spirit. Visions of goodness, like sugar plums, danced in my head.
What I hadn't counted on was that I was going to have lessons in embracing some things on which I would have rather passed!
2018 was a good year, but also a year that I was truly called to embrace the suffering of Christ. Not exactly what I had in mind.
I kept my streak alive, by having a 6th surgery in as many years. I do not embrace winding up in the Emergency Room. Though I'm no stranger to the operating room, I came out of this surgery only to have a terrifying panic attack as the anesthesia wore off. After a previous surgery, I lost my sense of taste and smell for two weeks, but what I experienced that night scared the daylights out of me. No stranger to anxiety, this was the king of attacks. I felt the presence of the enemy. It was frightening!
As I recuperated from the surgery, I felt heavy and tired - like a freight train had just run me over. I was severely anemic (deficiency in the number of red blood cells). After more testing, they found I have another blood disorder BTM in which the slim number of cells that I have are smaller than they are supposed to be. These two forms of anemia together...well lets just say road kill looks more lively than I do. There is no "cure" for this. I have been coming to grips with this new "normal".
People talk about having the luxury of taking a nap. Taking a nap for me several times a week has become a necessity. I have the jumbo size pill organizer for all the meds and supplements I need to take. All I need now is my support hose and I'm good to go.
This is NOT what I was planning on embracing.
To further compound things, a misunderstanding led to my feeling very betrayed that someone I worked with had twisted what I said and was rallying peers behind her position. To say that I felt turned against and betrayed was putting it mildly. Many tears were shed and sleepless nights left me tossing and turning.
It became apparent that God was calling me to embrace Christ's suffering.
I believe that if we are to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, then we are going to experience all the things Christ experienced, and a big one is betrayal and slander. Live long enough and you will eventually have someone who has an ax to grind with you. I’ve been there. It really hurts when the betrayer goes behind your back, seemingly rallying others to their side of the story.
When this happens, we are “sharing in the suffering of Christ” which the Bible calls us to. If we are to become like Jesus, we must suffer like He did as well. One of those ways is choosing to stand and stay in the face of betrayal. It goes against every natural instinct in us that yells, “flee!” But when we stay, we stand in the sufficient grace of God and that, in turn, builds our character and our confidence in God.
Whether I like it or not, God was calling me to embrace the side of Christ that endured suffering. This was a far cry from what I was expecting back in January of 2018.
When we endure and persevere through the suffering, the joy of salvation and Christ's return will be supremely magnified, and freedom in eternity will be that much sweeter.
We also learn that we are never alone....God is forever holding us up with His righteous right hand. I can testify that through it all, God NEVER left, nor did He forsake me.
We can't testify to this truth unless we have been through the crucible of suffering.
Has my character been growing? YES!! Has it been fun? No!! Do I believe God is at work in me? Yes!! Do I want this to continue? No!!
As God promises in the Bible, His grace is sufficient for me. He is true to His promises. Even with a new battle with tinnitis due to hearing loss, God has been providing. I've been learning to lean into Jesus like never before and to surrender my self-sufficiency and my worry. It's been a real growing and stretching experience.
So what now?? God has given me a new word for 2019. Not surprisingly, it's "REST"... Sabbath rest....sacred rest. I will explore my journey to embrace and practice the "Discipline of Rest" in future posts.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that your ways are much higher than my ways. You, ultimately, know what is best for me and what will help grow and transform me into the likeness of your Son. The path may not look like what we expected or what we would have chosen, but ultimately you are concerned about our character over our happiness. Thank you that even though others may betray us or turn against us, you never will. You are faithful to your promise to be steadfastly by our side. Help me to lean into you and depend upon you when the road gets rough. Thank you for my new "guide word" for this year. In this world of busy, busy, busy, enable me to embrace the sacred discipline of rest. Teach me what this looks like to You, O Lord!! Draw me into your presence and give me rest for my soul as well as for my body. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
What about you...has God been inviting you to embrace something you'd rather avoid at all costs? Have you been called to embrace Christ's suffering? If so, what did that look like? What about rest? Do you have any obstacles to overcome in order to truly rest in the Lord? Would you please share??
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