And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
It may seem like an odd text for Good Friday. I mean, shouldn't I be writing on the cross or something of that spiritual nature? Probably. And, eventually, I will. More prominently though is the thought of focusing on Him.
Yesterday, I had the second scariest experience of my personal life. The first was five years ago March when the entire left side of my body went numb, rendering me useless for over 16 hours. The eventual diagnosis was hemiphlegic migraines. I laughed and thought, "This is God's way of getting my attention." Maybe I shouldn't have laughed.
God has unique ways of getting our attention, of keeping us relying on Him. In Paul's case, we do not know what his thorn was. Many suggest it was an eye ailment. I imagine that could be annoying as a writer to not have decent use of your eyes. Paul would be unable to write effectively without the aid of another, but it was that inefficiency that kept Paul effective, because Paul realized he would never be able to do this on his own.
I believe God may give us a weakness, in order to show His strength. Could God do something like that on purpose? Sure He could, and I believe He does!
For me, I am stubborn. I devote much time to what I am doing without really considering what it is doing to me. I figure that God will supernaturally alter the natural circumstances in which I have placed myself. Tim Hawkins, a Christian comedian says it best in a bit about asking God to bless our food.
"Sometimes, we pray over food and ask God to make up for our bad choices when we eat. That's funny. No matter what it is, 'Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies. Lord, bless this bag of Cheetos...change it into a carrot stick on the way down."
We humans are knuckleheads. We make stupid decisions and expect God to take care of us. Will He take care of us? He wants to, but if you go and jump off a building, He won't defy gravity or suddenly provide a pillow for you to fall onto. He expects you to use some sort of common sense in your life. You are not above the reaches of gravity. Gravity keeps us from jumping off buildlings. Gravity keeps us humble. It is still bigger than we are. We haven't defied it yet. There are some laws that cannot be defied.
Such as the laws that our bodies need sleep, food, rest. I can be a self-proclaimed superwoman at times, giving and giving and giving, wanting to be there for people, wanting to help people, wanting to do everything. I will stay up on late night chats, or writing or cleaning, depending on whatever mood I am in. So, God, took my eyes.
My vision yesterday went from normal to nearly gone in a matter of minutes. At the time, I was convinced I was going blind. I began to ask why how and what. Why was this happening to me? What had I done? How could I keep writing? How could I keep teaching? As I walked out of school, all of the things I was worried about getting done were definitely not going to get done.
My kids have a geometry test, I hate test days. They are so dependent on me. It drives me crazy - now, their geometry teacher would be gone for the rest of the day. They need me I am letting them down.
The house needs to be clean, I just don't have time- now, the house will not get cleaned. We'll just have to live with it.
After a visit to the retinal specialist, I have been diagnosed with ocular migraines. All has returned to normal now, except I am very fatigued (even after 10 hours of sleep) and have a slight headache, both of which are textbook postmigraine symptoms. Basically, any time I go without enough sleep, or enough food, or have so much on my plate that I get stressed, I will go blind.
Other people can pull off all nighters or a day or two without food, but I will never be able to. There will be no more late-night counseling chats. No more midnight writing sprees, and that frustrates me. It puts limits on my creativity, and creates a weakness, a trade off I am not willing to make. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. I sit here thinking, "God, why would You take my eyes? Why would you rob me of their use when all I am doing is trying to serve You?" My eyes are my strength, and now they are made weak in His hands. That's a humbling thought. It is a bittersweet blessing, my own personal thorn in my side. My gravity.
The temptation right now is to just walk away from writing. After all, I work best late at night. The temptation is to say this is a sign to give it up, that this life will be too much for me (not life in general, just the life I am leading up to for myself). To throw in the towel because I will not be able to handle a busy ministry schedule. The truth is, I have to rely on Him, not give up. There is a difference. Things may not happen on my time schedule or in the way I wanted, but that is faith. I have seen it many times, as we give up our gravity, He helps us defy it, in His time.
"When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly." ~ Patrick Overton