Tuesday was the day – March 5, 2013, and my one-year MRI appointment.  A flurry of emotions carried us into the day, and even more ushered us out of it and into the peace of today.

To cut to the chase, the MRI results came back early Tuesday evening, revealing no change in the pineal cyst in my brain.  Same size, same characteristics.  Not exactly what this expectant heart was hoping to hear.  Yet wasn’t the desire of my heart for God’s will above my own desires?  Didn’t I profess that I would celebrate results showing stability, devoid of sizeable growth, and praise God regardless of the test results?

It was time to put feet to my faith.

Waiting 7 ½ hours for the results felt like an eternity.  Heaven bless the office staff at the imaging center for their willingness to place a rush on the results, and for releasing the preliminary report before the final transcription was complete.  With much anticipation, I picked up the report after work, called Greg from the parking lot, and together we reviewed the results.  Waiting to read them together in person once I was home simply wasn’t an option!

The drive home was long.  And slow.  And tearful.  And ridiculously thoughtful.  It was as if a mental cyclone suddenly appeared, destroying everything in its path, especially that which I knew in my spirit to be truth.  And the devastation from the storm didn’t stop there; it manifested itself in a hysterical meltdown that made the dog tuck her tail and hide…and I’m fairly confident that Greg would have been right behind her, had I not buried my soggy face in his chest.  If Jesus could sweat drops of blood while wrestling with God’s will for Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, then surely I had permission to wrestle with my own circumstances in my own daunting garden of life, right?

The moments that followed weren’t very attractive, but they were real, and my God is more than big enough to handle whatever is thrown His way, as ugly as it may be.  Oh, how I’m thankful for the constancy and faithfulness of His love for me, even when I’m so unlovable!  Without fail, the Lord began to calm the emotional turbulence and gently remind me of His unwavering presence.  A Scripture verse here, a text there, an email or Facebook message offering the peace of Christ, the soothing balm of the perfect song at just the right time.  God is so very, very good.

Admittedly, it was difficult not to set up camp in the enemy’s territory where tent stakes are planted in the soil of discouragement and doubt, and stories told around the campfire are largely exaggerated and steeped in false truths and fear.  You see, the testimony that Greg and I share has consistently been written through painful and challenging circumstances and extended seasons of trial, yet at the same time these experiences have afforded us the blessing of knowing the peace, provision, and perfection of God’s will in an incredibly intimate way.  And while we tried to remain optimistic for the possibility of a miracle, we couldn’t deny our acquaintance with everything but a miraculous outcome based on our life experiences, especially when it comes to physical healing.  Maintaining both reverent expectation and shrewd reality is a very delicate balance.  Slowly, I’m discovering that miracles aren’t necessarily defined by their outcome, but instead by the transformation of our attitude, character, and our willingness to delight ourselves in the Lord and His will above our own for the sake of His glory and impacting the lives of others for Christ.  Perhaps the miracle we’re fervently seeking lies within our spiritual growth and increasing resemblance to Christ as a result of pursuing Him with reckless abandon within our present circumstances, not in deliverance from them.

As I began to reflect on the day’s events and outcomes, I started asking myself probing questions, such as, “What’s different from yesterday to today?  What if my MRI hadn’t occurred today but was scheduled months from now?  Haven’t I been feeling better, and experiencing fewer symptoms?  Isn’t our calling to ministry the same today as it was yesterday?  Isn’t God accomplishing amazing things in our ministry and bringing a decade’s worth of dreams to fruition?  Isn’t God’s love the same today as it was yesterday?  Is His sovereignty not the same?  Are His provisions now suddenly lacking?”

What followed were the most poignant questions and convicting realizations: “Isn’t my cyst the same today as it was yesterday?  Hasn’t God been faithful in answering our prayers by blessing us with its stability as opposed to its pattern of growth?  So really, if my circumstances haven’t changed and God hasn’t changed, what has changed?”  The answer was glaringly simple.  The variable that had changed was me.

Although my motives for desiring that the cyst be smaller or completely gone were well intentioned, they were out of focus.  I yearned for my husband and two daughters to know the mystery of God manifested through physical healing after enduring years of suffering alongside of their precious Tara, Greg’s first wife and our girls’ first Mom, who passed away from brain cancer in 2001.  My heart aches at the thought of them walking a similar, yet different, path with me due to my current health issues and potential surgery.  It’s simply too familiar for them and I want to spare them from having to somewhat relive their past.  I wanted to spare Greg from any financial burdens associated with surgery, not to mention the responsibility of caring for me during my recovery.  He has beautifully fulfilled his marriage vows “in sickness and in health” as a husband once already in his lifetime and I prayed that God would refrain from allowing him to do so again with such familiarity.  And, I longed for God to reveal His wondrous power through my healing to the people in my life who have never accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  What glory He could be given through a testimony of healing!  While these reasons are good, they aren’t focused on what is best – delighting myself in the Lord.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  But what exactly does that mean?

Quite simply, it means to delight in Him alone.  To find pleasure in His heart, rather than in His hand.  As the Matthew Henry Commentary says it, to delight in the Lord means “to know, and love, and live (for) God; to please Him and be pleased in Him” and that with this command to delight in Him comes a gloriously rich reward – that in return for our obedience, including the “hardest services” unto Him, the Lord will “satisfy the cravings of our renewed soul.”

The Message translation of this verse is mind-blowing:  “Keep company with God, get in on the best.”  Stop for just a moment and let that rest upon your heart and sink into your mind.  “…Get in on the best.”  God’s best!  When we delight in God alone, in Who He is and trust His heart, we no longer have to worry or analyze or manipulate that which comes from His hand, because we can confidently lean into the promise that it is His best!  God’s ways are certainly not my ways, nor His thoughts my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  But I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that His plans for me are good and bursting forth with hope (Jeremiah 29:11-13) and that if I refuse to look backward and press on towards the goal – Jesus – my heavenly prize awaits me (Philippians 3:14).  And although here on earth I’m guaranteed to encounter obstacles and challenges, trials and sorrows, I can find hope to persevere through them because Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33).  And….He promises that nothing we experience in life is wasted, for He works them all together for good to fulfill the purposes we have been called to, prepared in advance for us to do (Romans 8:28 and Ephesians 2:10)!

Somebody please join me in shouting a hearty “AMEN!!!!!!!!”

Did the Lord turn a deaf ear to my cry?  Quite the contrary – He promises to perfect that which concerns me (Psalm 138:8).  Did He not answer my prayers?  Of course He didn’t – He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84: 11).  Does God not love me enough to give me physical healing?  The opposite couldn’t be more true – God’s love for me is boundless, limitless, and beyond human comprehension (Ephesians 3:14-19).  Was the source of my disappointment a lack of faith, or too little expectation in God’s unlimited capabilities to bring healing?  Simply put, no.  Disappointment came because I wasn’t delighting in His will above my own.  My sights were set on my circumstances from my limited, human perspective and not God’s omniscient view.  My hope began to sink on Tuesday because my expectations were just that – mine – and not God’s for me.  Though the desires of my flesh were good and had they been brought to fruition, the Lord would have been glorified, but they weren’t keeping company with God’s best for me.  Only God and His love will never disappoint or fail!

Yesterday a dear friend told me that she spent much of her lunch hour praying over me and Greg; what a privilege to be on the receiving side of her sweet fellowship with the Lord!  In her email, she said that she was so thankful to God for answering our prayers by holding back the cyst from growing any larger, and that He was “just getting started” in His work in this situation.  Countless others have poured this same truth into our lives over the last two days, celebrating a victory and imparting a heavenly point of view to what we’ve seen as a dismal outlook.  And our oldest daughter, having no idea about what God has been speaking to my heart, just sent words of encouragement that will forever be cherished in my Mommy heart: “I know you might be feeling a little disappointed about your results… I know you already know this but I feel like saying it helps me too…God has a plan and purpose with this situation and for all the pain and suffering you are experiencing you will receive blessing and rewards someday (whether here on earth or in heaven or both) that will be much greater.  Keep up the good work!”  Whew!  I could have reached through this computer and squeezed the life out of her (although my grandbaby she’s carrying might not have appreciated that hug from Gigi!)  Oh, how thankful we are for each one of you who have chosen to walk this journey with us (Philippians 1:3).

Tonight I’ll be preparing my new patient paperwork, MRI films and reports to send to the Skull Base Institute for evaluation.  God not only blessed us with the cyst’s stability, but He also has provided direction that this is the next step in our journey since there wasn’t any reduction in size.  A double blessing from God’s perspective since He answered two of our prayers!  Only He knows what the days, weeks and months ahead have in store for us, but we have the choice to set our eyes on what is seen, or on that which is unseen and embrace each new day with the strength and peace found in this passage:  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:34, MSG).  Perhaps there are doctors and nurses who need to hear about the Great Physician and God has chosen us to be the ones to share Him with them on this next phase of our journey.  Or maybe He is preparing a grand audience to witness and testify to healing that is yet to come in the days ahead.

One thing remains constant, however – His love never fails!

One Thing Remains – Kristian Stanfill  

Listen to the song here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY7OtDJLWlg

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant through the trial and the change

One thing remains…

Chorus:

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

And on and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never, ever, have to be afraid

One thing remains

Chorus:

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Bridge:

In death, In life, I’m confident

And covered by the power of Your great love

My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can separate

My heart from Your great love…

Chorus:

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me

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