Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lessons learned the Hard Way

I wrote the following post a few weeks ago when I was sick with the pink eye. As a followup to that the Lord has been teaching me a lot about staying close to him. When I am in a particularly difficult situation as I have recently found myself, I can remember this devotional and those days of lying on my back in the dark. God has been faithful and I find myself relying less on myself and more on him each day.

"Relax in my everlasting arms. Your weakness is an opportunity to grow strong in awareness of My Almighty Presence. When your energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there. Look to Me and My sufficiency; rejoice in My radiant riches that are abundantly available to help you."

This was my devotional reading this morning. I could have used it yesterday when I was feeling particularly alone. I have been preoccupied to say the least for the past week with first taking care of John who had pink eye. The third day of treatment and it was all gone and he was back at school--no further complications for him. Thur. last week I woke up with pink eye and I started the same treatment that John was on, but soon both eyes were swollen and red. Not just pink but red! We tried two different medicines and here I am on Day 6 with puffy, less swollen, eyes! I became very self-preoccupied. I was up cleaning the gunk out of my eyes and putting medicine in every couple hours. I couldn't tolerate the light, could not be on the computer for more than a few min. at a time. I was taking Ibuprofen every 6 hours for the pain. All I could do was lay in a darkened room and listen to my Kindle. Even that was annoying if I was listening to the Bible reading. The audio is not good and Kindle is clueless about reading Scripture references. It reads it as hour and minutes. Mr. or Mrs. are spelled out instead of read! But I couldn't read the text and I had nothing better to do with my time during these days. I began to feel sorry for myself and even question my reason for being in this country. Wow that was quite a rapid downward spiral!

I know I have been in the valley of transition for months now, and have not quite come out on the other side. Every now and then I see a glimmer of where the Lord wants me to concentrate my energies for the remaining years we have in Niger. For the moment though he has me in a behind the scenes kind of ministry--support for my family! Anyway I'm getting distracted once again. I am in a waiting mode and rather than lamenting my lot I want to focus on what the Lord has done during these times of weakness.

As I reflect back on my life, I do see that the most precious times with the Lord have been those where I was flat on my back! I was hospitalized in 1994 in Benin due to severe dysentery. I lost about 20 lbs. and was very weak. It gave me an opportunity for reflection and dependence on the Lord. It was quite precious.

In times of family crisis the Lord has always been quite close to me. I lost my first husband in 1984 and found myself relying on God in ways that I never had before. He picked me up out of that pit and restored my relationship with Him and many many times I felt the strong arms of God holding me up. I lost my mother-in-law and a brother-in-law in 1998, a brother in 1999, my mother in 2006 and my older brother in 2009. I had time to reflect on family relationships and the Lord ministered to me during those times of grief. I always came out of the grieving time stronger and more reliant on Christ to comfort and sustain me.

Last year when I faced burn-out I did not take enough time to fully recover and as a result have spent more time in the valley of transition. I am there now, but I choose not to wallow in self-pity and "why me?" dialogues but to enjoy the Presence of God during this time.

A couple of weeks ago in a mentoring workshop, one of the leaders pointed it out to me that I need to savor this time, enjoy it and cultivate a deeper relationship with the Lord. Don't worry about coming out the other side of the wall or valley too quickly but to see it as a place of recovery, healing, and just stay there instead of getting up and jumping over the wall, or yelling, "I'm o.k. Really I am." Instead just continue to wallow in God's love and allow him to lavish his love and care on me. Wow! I just don't do a very good job of that! So I guess I have to learn.

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