May 11, 2011

What Happened After the Fire Swamp?

Hello All.

I bet I know what you are thinking... "What a place to leave off!" This big thing happens in her life and then she doesn't say anything about it!

Well, that's not really true. I have a lot to say about it, but nothing comes out logically or in order. Any one thing I may say is not representative of what is happening. It's a big tangled mess. Who am I to say that I understand what has happened? Am I a theologian? Not a chance. The only word that comes to my mouth is Jesus. I have actually been writing like mad in the last while. Lots of things are spilling out of me, faster than I can type. But at this point it is not sensical, and wouldn't make sense to the outside reader. All of my emotions are spilling out. If I am away from home, I get to a computer and write myself an email. If I am not near a computer, I jot it down on paper. If I don't have time to write it out, I make a mental note to myself.

All these events remind me of an interview that I read with Brad Pitt after the filming of Seven Years in Tibet. The interviewer was anxious to know what Brad's opinion was on the political situation in Tibet. After all, he is a big Hollywood star, and after filming a controversial movie about the Dalai Lama and Tibet, he must have some deep thoughts about the whole issue. I thought his response was very clever. He basically said, "Why would you ask me about such a loaded topic? I'm just an actor, I don't know anything about this situation, except what happened in the movie." For the record, that is the first time that I have ever quoted Brad Pitt as being profound! (I don't dislike him, but I have never really thought of him as wise! After all, he is just an actor.)

I think his words sum up my own. I may have received healing in my body, but other than saying "to God be the Glory", I'm not sure what to do from here or what to say about it. I won't be diving into healing debates any time soon. Remember the man who was blind from birth? When people asked him for details of what had happened, all he could say was this. "I don't know what happened. All I know is this: I used to be blind, but now I see."

And truthfully, my thoughts lie predominantly with the rest of my comrades who are still in the thick of their struggles. My heart goes out to them as they hear about my story. If I have a testimony, it is this. Jesus' words are true. Whether we are sick or healthy, he is there with us.

I had no special recipe for the way I approached God in this. All I wanted was his will and his blessing. I wanted him to be glorified in my body, be it through Death or through Life. If I was going into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, then I wanted the guided tour. Frankly, I'm a little terrified that healthy people will take my story to those who are sick and say, "Look, God healed her!" My message is about healing, yes, but it is primarily that he heals our sinfulness and brings us back to God, sick and healthy alike. My message is that God is good, whether he heals or doesn't heal. My message is that God is not afraid to walk with us through illness and hard times... but we need to let him.

I'm also afraid that some people will accuse me of not giving God glory for the healing work he has done in my life. But I beg to differ. I want to give God glory for Who He Is, not only for what he has done. He has not given me a reason to praise him... He was already worthy of all my praise, and I would have died praising him if that was his will.

We may tell stories of healing, but we rarely think about what happens to the people after they have received healing. We just assume that after it happened, everything was fine and dandy. But here are a few thoughts for you. What did the man who was healed from paralysis think the first time his legs fell asleep? Imagine what he thought during the first sensation of pins and needles traveling up and down his legs! Imagine his amazement that muscles can ache and that stubbing your toe hurts like the dickens. Or again, this man who was blind from birth. Was he afraid that if he closed his eyes to go to sleep, he would never see again? What did he think the first time he personally witnessed injustice done to other people, a starving human body, or when his eyes ached in direct sunlight?

I bet the once-blind-now-seeing man noticed every blind person he saw after that. I bet the once-lame-now-walking-and-leaping man took special note of every lame person he walked past. Because they understood where those people were at.

My heart remains with those who are sick, and I want them to know that it is not their fault that they are sick. I want them to know that God can be glorified in their life, regardless of their circumstances, and in fact, that God can be glorified even if they are never healed. When Jesus was asked who was at fault for the man being born blind, this is how he answered. "It was not because of his sin or his parents' sin. This happened so that the power of God could be seen in him."

God's power is shown through our lives when we submit to him. Whether or not outward healing occurs, it is the inward healing that matters the most. Followers of Jesus get sick like everyone else. The difference between a follower of Jesus and a non-follower is this: followers of Jesus continue to have hope in their lives, regardless of the desperateness of their outward situation. That hope means that we are not afraid of Death, even though we approach it with alarming speed. 1 Peter 1:3 says "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"

Healing is only a small measure of God's goodness. But his conquering of Death and guidance in our lives is the hope that sustains us and the unlimited source of power that backs us. If God is for us, who can be against us?

My message is this: As Followers of Jesus, we have the hope and the power not merely to survive hard times, but to actually thrive in the midst of them. Think about the popular movie, The Princess Bride. The brave Wesley leads Princess Buttercup through the Fire Swamp. As they journey together through the swamp he saves her and protects her from the three fears: the fire spurts, the quicksand and the giant rats. My question is this. When Buttercup told the story afterward, what do you think she would emphasize? Would she sigh with relief and never want to think about it again? Or would she tell all of her friends about the Wesley's daring bravery and how he saved her again and again? I think the latter. She did not just survive in the Fire Swamp, she actually fell in love in the Fire Swamp. I would call that thriving. Jesus is my Wesley.

In Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd...), there is a line that says "He prepares a table before me, in the presence of my enemies. My cup overflows". Here is my version: "He prepares a table before me, in the presence of a brain tumor, of Death, of chemotherapy, of disappointments, and of loss. My cup overflows."

If I get diagnosed with another Krang tomorrow, this will remain unchanged. Because I have a Wesley and I am in love with him.


Eileen said...

Thanks for this, Jessica - it is very profound - that God is worthy of praise whatever happens to an individual. This is what we so often struggle with and your thoughts today are so helpful for those who are still going through it and not seeing healing.

Sarah Walker said...

I think this should be published. I think that christians everywhere need to read this and my hope would be that they would truly believe it. God is good, all the time...end of story.

You amaze me Jess. Thank you for continuing to challenge me. I am proud to call you my sister and friend. I can't wait to see you!

Beth Ann said...

Thank you my dear friend for sharing this. It´s something that I truly needed to hear right now. You are a blessing. Keep on mi amiga.