“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
God, I had gotten it all wrong.
As I sat in that chair in that doctor’s office as he explained to me what answers they had found and the new questions they had raised – the image of all I had dreamed crumbling and crashing to the ground shot through my head.
9 months into my Masters of Ministry program.
2 months as the Junior High Youth Pastor Intern.
Applications and interviews in preparation for applying for a military chaplaincy position.
All of it, possibly no longer possible.
As the doctor left to give me a moment and gather some paperwork, I let the tears run as I cried out to God.
Had I been so wrong?
However life had prepared me for this moment. Because as I turned to run straight to him, I found I was already in his arms.
God, it doesn’t matter if I got it wrong, because I know you can make it right. God, Your will… in between sobs… Your will.
Just tell me what to do next… drop out of school, step down from the church…
Proceed as planned.
I could feel the path taking a slight turn (though in the moment it had felt like a 90 degree knock the wind out of you sharp right angle) however I could also feel him telling me to stay the current course.
Proceed as planned, and when the plan changes, trust me and don’t hesitate- look at me and keep going.
I have you and I will not let you go. Daughter, keep going.
And when my doctor returned he found an uncertain and struggling patient turned into a battle ready and confident warrior. Practically giddy with excitement, having witnessed the victory before the fight even began.
Three words. You have MS.
Three words. Proceed as planned.
There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, obstacles and challenges. Life style changes and just life changes.
I didn’t choose this journey. But I wouldn’t trade it.
Without the hurdles and struggle and pain I’d never have fully known God’s grace and peace and faithfulness. I’ve personally witnessed the impossible become possible. I can account for the fact that he still does what he once did and will always do.
This is not to say I haven’t witnessed those times in which for some divine reason he didn’t intervene or he let it take a different course or be prolonged a bit later.
In my conclusions I have found that is when faith is made or broken. He can only grow your faith through the fire- it is easy to believe in the goodness of a God who fits into our worldly definition of provision and intervention, but can you believe in the goodness of a God who withholds his hand for a higher reason we cannot fathom?
Do you have faith, can you really believe and trust that he knows best?
No matter what.
That’s a heavy order. But while I don’t claim to do it perfectly I can honestly claim that I do.
It may come out between sobs and anger and confusion and frustration… but I really do believe in a God that good, no matter what.
And he has made all the difference.
The doctors have said I have Multiple Sclerosis, a spine so riddled in scars… they’re not sure how it has held itself together.
My answer- I’ve got a God you not only has my back but literally has my back.
I have a God whose will I trust completely and to whom my only prayer is to do what he wants. He loves that I dream and make plans, so as long as I remember when he changes those dreams and plans I need to trust his are better- no matter what or how it feels.
And there is something absolutely so powerful, undefeatable and unshakable in that.
This fallen world can take everything from you, except him, and in him we remember this is only a journey towards our forever home.
I’ve learned when tempted to look and focus on the outside to turn my eyes and heart to the inside. Because when I refocus on God and look through his perspective, everything outside of him becomes incredibly small.
The Lokai bracelet’s have a black bead and a white bead. The black bead contains dirt from the Dead Sea while the white bead contains water from Mt. Everest. When you’re in the valley stay hopeful; when you’re on the mountaintop stay humble. The blue bracelet pictured is the one designed for MS awareness and fundraising. Regardless of what battles you may be facing, these bracelets carry a powerful reminder.
Additionally, I encourage you to remember that no matter how dark, grey or cloudy it may appear – the sun is always behind the clouds, right where it’s always been.
Look to the inside. You’ll find more light and hope and resilience built on more love and grace and faithfulness than you could ever have dreamed and still more than you can fully comprehend.
Today marks my second Walk for MS event, later this summer 2 years will have passed since my diagnosis. Some days come easier than others. Some dreams have been waylaid while others picked up.
Regardless the future is still brimming with the unknown.
Also regardless, we will declare hope anyway.
Because that’s what you do when you walk, run, bike or fundraise for a cause. You come alongside others not with cure all’s and answers but with hope and love. Encouragement and friendship. Personally, I do not believe there’ll ever be a better medicine, or a cure complete without the two. Friendship offers hope, and where there is hope there is life.
So my friends please know how needed you are, inside of you lies the power of life and death itself. And no matter how it feels or looks on the outside- we are battle ready.
As hard as it may be and whatever lies ahead, I am thankful for the scars. And look forward to the day when God’s mighty and glorious purpose falls into place before our eyes.
*Title inspired by the song Scars performed by artists I Am They.