Monday, August 3, 2015

Back on my feet

I'm back on my feet again, taking another step, thanks to the prayers and encouragement of many of you.  I'm not 100% yet but continuing to move in that direction.  I am in Bakersfield CA as I write this, prepared to go into another week full of meetings with International Christian Ministries (ICM).

Last Monday evening, after I sent out the "Flesh Eating Bacteria" blog, we had a guest over who happened to get sick.  She apologized profusely for having thrown up in our bathroom.  I reassured her that there was no need for apology - I was sorry that she had gotten sick!  But the next day I thought about that exchange and I realized that I too feel like I "threw up" last week on this blog.  And I too want to apologize for that.  I know that there was some real sickness that legitimized the entry, but I still feel bad about it, just as our guest did.  However, I also acknowledge that this is a "Reeds In The Wind" web-log - not an ICM or work blog.  This blog has been like a journal for me, capturing my life on a weekly basis for the past ten years.  It allows me to not feel so alone on this journey, and I am privileged to have company in the likes of you reading it and commenting on it.  I keep the topics to work, family, and faith, and if I need to get personal, I can.  I try to keep it as positive as I can, but sometimes, thankfully rarely, I "throw up."

But so many of you responded with such graciousness and kind words.  And so many prayers were lifted on my behalf.  I truly felt the darkness lifting by the end of that day.  And my face has fully healed.

So thank you.  And sorry.  I'll try not to do that too often.

A number of you wrote and said that you identified with those dark thoughts and dark places.  For those who did, let me pass on some of the wise words I heard in this past week:

From my boss, Dr. Phil Walker, in response to these words of mine:  "See how many people are looking to ICM and to you - good, serious people with serious medical issues - and you can't do anything."   "Ah, the great lie.  Of course you cannot do anything.  It is not yours to do.  While we can “feel” responsible, we have to remind ourselves over and over that God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the strong.  I know in my mind that only God can handle these things (this is what Grace really means).  But my emotions cry out that “I” should be able to do something.  It is in our helplessness that we grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18).  I came to the end of myself in 1982 after doing some amazing things in Southern Lebanon preparing to launch a ministry among Muslims only to have my family life collapse around me.  I went to my knees by my bed and cried out to God, “what do you want from me?  I have given you my life, my wife and my children.  I live through constant danger, bombings and little to no benefits (life salary etc).  God’s answer changed my life, “I want you.”  Suddenly I realized that I could never do anything in my flesh that would “fix it” for others.  If God does not do it, I cannot and should not try to make it happen.  It is in this place of helplessness that I find rest."

From my pastor, Rev. David Beelen:  "One line in your blog struck quoted an easy line that people throw out too easily (and you used it that way)..."God does not give us more than we can bear"  In fact, God often gives us more than we can bear....most days this feels like more than I can bear.  Which then leads me to dependence and some prayers of desperation."

From a dear friend in Iowa, Ron Rynders:  I have had the privilege of reading the Bible for each of my grandkids. I have 11, and I am in the middle of #9. Having just finished Jeremiah yesterday, I was sort of in the mood for getting this. Here’s a guy who got laughed out of town every time he opened his mouth. Sometimes he got dumped into a well, all alone, up to his armpits in mud. Hungry. In jail. Ridiculed. And much of his rejection came from people in his own profession. But above all, he had to learn that it was not a matter of getting approval or support from anyone on this Earth. It was all him and the Lord. When God spoke to him, he transliterated it to the people, no matter how important the people were and no matter how objectionable the message was to the hearers. He dictated his book, and the king burned it one page at a time. So he just wrote it again… and then, for all his work, he was led off with the captives to another land. Thing is, what Jeremiah said, came true. The test of a good prophet is if her words are true. It’s not about support—God owns the cattle on a thousand hills; he only has to sell one cow, and you’re all set. It’s not about printing a book; there are many publishers. 

So here I am, rambling about what you wrote, and countering some of your problems with a nice, safe distance between us. I’m really sorry. I just want to give you that hug again, and tell you what I think about the woman I have come to respect deeply. God has confirmed over and over that he supports you, relates to you, meets your needs, answers your prayers. He loves you with an everlasting love, and that’s all that matters. When perspective comes, your body heals, and time has passed to heal your troubled soul, you’ll look back on this and see how much muscle you obtained from the late-July turmoil in 2015. You lost a husband and learned to smile again. You have spoken the Words of Truth into many lives. God has poured you out, and though this dry spell is difficult, you will arise to show his glory, with or without money from supporters."  

From Karl Westerhof, on staff with the CRCNA, a friend of Bob's who has become an encourager to me through the blog:  "You  wouldn't think God would let it happen.   You wouldn't think the old self still has so much toxicity to release.  You wouldn't think it would hit you when you are at home.   But, bam!   And on top of all that, your feelings and memories take you right back to the grief and mystery of Bob's death.   Yes, all that is right inside your brain, ready at any moment to be triggered again. And then you get to telling yourself a bunch of junk.... what if my whole ministry is a delusion?   I'm accomplishing  nothing, doing harm, creating dependence, blowing smoke, pretending to be significant, yadda yadda. This is a litany from hell.  God never promised to get me out of trouble, but he does promise to get me through it.  So, Renita, it's a deep pit, and it's dark, and you can't even imagine how so many things can go so wrong at the same time.  I'm not going to remind you of the good things; I'm not going to quote a sunny scripture; I'm not going to tell you to buck up and pray more and all that good stuff.   It don't work.   I think we can look squarely at the darkness, stare deep into it, feel the feelings, and grit our teeth and repeat "I trust you God".  And there in the depths we find a wrecked but risen Jesus, who totally gets it, who knows how really terrible it can get, and who is with us in every breath with his own new breath, his divine wind, his Spirit, and he will not let us go.  Period. Oh, whoops, there I went with some good words that might sound useless.  Sorry.  Not.   Renita, I'm praying for you.  Karl"

And this is only a very small percentage of the wonderful and wise words I received.  How blessed I am!  The body of Christ is truly a wonderful thing.  Thank you, dear friends, for being with me on this journey.