Monday, February 7, 2011

Looking For Faith

I sweated it out for four days, hoping the phones would not ring. It was a spiritual battle of mind and emotion. The doctor told me if I didn’t hear from their office by Friday that would be good news because the pathologist always calls them right away if a biopsy shows something needs attention. Finally the vigil was over. There were no phone calls after all and, alone with my tears, I rejoiced.

Sometimes I feel guilty, weak and “less than” in my faith walk compared to others. That bar looks pretty high to me. Often I get a good grasp on it with both hands, and rely on others to keep me in balance. But much of the battle is fought when I’m alone with the thoughts that bombard my mind. Then it’s up to me to get with Papa and beg Him to speak to me, which He always does. It’s up to me to read and re-read the rhemas Papa gives me to keep me focused on the things that are true.

It would have been nice after this particular skirmish to hear someone say, “You fought the good fight this week. Even through your tears, you determined to keep reading God’s promises. You made dinner when you were worried. You read God’s Word when you couldn’t think straight. You kept all of your commitments. You ran your home even when you didn’t get enough sleep. And now there’s good news. I’m so happy for you.” But who knew I was in such turmoil? I fought this battle in secret.

I feel ashamed of my frightened emotions. Being afraid of the unknown smacks of not trusting God. Of having weak faith, borrowing trouble, never learning the lesson, choosing to be a wimp instead of a victor. A whiner, not a winner. A loser, not a learner.

So this time I didn’t tell many people that I was struggling with anxiety because they might think less of me. They might think “for someone who believes in God (I) sure don’t trust Him very much.” They might wonder why I’m so very very weak when I’ve been through this so many times. After all, isn’t it the goal of Christian growth to become strong? I wonder why it only looks like spiritual maturity if you hide your quaking heart and don’t let anyone see you cry.

But now I wonder if this experience was more a test of God than of me, hard as that is to believe. I specifically asked God for a good report from the doctor, and He gave me this promise: “. . . happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) shall you be, and it shall be well with you.” (Psalm 128:2b)

Then He gave me the most unusual rhema I’ve ever received from Him because it was from a long section in Proverbs. Only some of the words stood out, until the message came looking like this: “Listen . . . to My knowledge . . . believing . . . so that your trust (belief, reliance, support and confidence) may be in the Lord. I have made known these things today . . . Have I not written to you long ago . . . to make you KNOW the certainty of truth . . . ?” Prov. 22:17-21

I knew that if the doctor called saying that the biopsy showed another melanoma, I’d be looking at surgery on my face in some form or another. It would be a difficult thing to hear, but I’d have no choice and would do what I had to do. But what would I do with the promises God made to me? I couldn’t let Him off the hook by saying that He meant in the end all would be well with me. He knew I was asking for specific things and that called for specific answers from Him. I couldn’t throw out everything He’s ever told me because it would mean that God doesn’t speak intimately with me, and maybe He doesn’t speak intimately with anyone else, either. Of course, there’s always the mystery file I could throw all of this into. The one that says God is sovereign--we don’t know why He does the things He does, but He’s always right and we don’t need to understand. I’m not trying to be disrespectful or sacrilegious here. But does God mean what He says or doesn’t He? And if He takes the time to give specific promises to a frightened daughter of His, the only thing He can do after that is keep them.

Honestly, as worried as I was about getting another melanoma diagnosis, I was pretty concerned that God might not come through and prove that He really does know how to communicate to me, one on one. And I was scared that I’d never learn what on earth it is that I can put my confidence in, if not on what my spirit says is the voice of God speaking to me. I must know His voice. I must be able to run boldly into the presence of God at my weakest moments and receive mercy – appropriate and well timed, just when I need it. (Hebrews 4:16)

Maybe the thing I grapple with the most is uncertainty. In this world where “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes," there’s a lot of life to live between those two book-ends, and very little of it is stable. I don’t know if I will ever be a rock of confidence when it comes to the unknown future. But as long as I know where to run for Strength when I don’t have any, my definition of faith will always be a heart desperate for God.

You don’t get any medals of valor for crying with relief in the bathroom. Instead, the one I'm wearing looks like a small scar on my forehead where a question mark used to be. God speaks, and He knows how to do it in my language. I will love Him forever for that.