I am pretty sure if I was an emoji, I would be Denial. My husband would rather listen to nails being scratched across a chalkboard then to hear my response to a setback, “it’s not ideal, it’s an opportunity”. Poor man lol
My reaction may be flawed, but I do not believe it to be an error most of the time. Yes, at times it does trips me up. At the beginning of this year I had the word “sorrow” pressed upon my heart for my one-word the Lord wanted me to learn about. My denial reared its head and I disputed accepting this gift: “Really Lord? I just buried 5 grandparents in 3 years, I have learned enough about sorrow. Ooohh, I know – let’s have me dive deeper into joy this year or let’s do peace again – that was a good one. I’m even open to learning humility, but sorrow – ummm, I think we’ve covered this one enough for now.”
Ugh, Lord have grace over me. How kind of me to even give Him options. Thankfully He has more grace than flavor options in a soda pop fountain. He stays firm with the word though and I concede to begin to allow my heart to become palpable to the lessons sorrow has to offer. After all, it cannot be all bad. God does not give bad gifts, I just need a fresh perspective about this.
Recently while I was sitting in a white sterile room and I had a flash back to a decade earlier when I was sitting in a very similar disinfected room. No matter the city, affiliation of study or credentialed name, all medical rooms offer the same atmosphere; uncertainty. This time however, there is a noticeable peace that passes over the room as I scan the boxes of sterile gloves and imaging machines. The kind of peace that is tested by perseverance and fought for with hope. It reminded me of two kindred spirits who guided a beloved soul I read about in an allegory story called Hinds Feet on High Places. Inside the pages you read about the transformation of a character who is defined by her name, Much-Afraid. She yearns to bound high on the high grounds where the hart and hind were nimble and fearless on the jagged mountain face. When she admits her desire to the Good Shepherd whom she works for, she is met with delight and kindness by him as he explains how such a voyage will transform her completely.
To begin the journey a seed of love has to be planted in Much-Afraid’s heart and she is told it will hurt for a moment. Scared of being hurt, she hesitates in her response then nervously makes her first choice to encounter pain so she can begin a new life. With each leg of her journey she is prepared to face adversity of many kinds and she must decide over and over if she will continue with such a treacherous trek to these high grounds where her promise for healing await her. When she makes her decisions to trust the Good Shepherd, the seed of love grows in her heart and gives her just enough courage and strength to continue on the journey with her travel companions, Sorrow and Suffering.
In this allegory, I believe most of us can insert our names over the numerous characters portrayed in the story. I know I can relate to Much-Afraid, looking at larger than me circumstances and scared into nonsense thoughts, but I also have had thoughts like her cousins, Pride and Bitterness which did not produce much hope when faced with hard situations. Then there is a kinship I feel when I read how Sorrow sings quiet songs of worship in the forest of danger and tribulation. I get her too.
What this story can teach us is no matter the adversity; whether it be fearlings, shores of loneliness, mount injury, a forest of tribulation, or a valley of loss we are but a choice away from the promises given to us. Much-Afraid was being tested in her passage to the high grounds what response she needs to have in order to conquer her fears and claim the promise given to her. She was never under the illusion it was going to be easy. Friends, we are not under false pretenses either. We live in a tough world. There is really not much we can control except how we respond. When you face an unknown in this life you have a response to make. Whether we recognize it or not, our responses direct our life. The choice we make for our life, impacts us eternally.
The good news is, we can train our responses to our choosing. The downside is, if we are not conscience or honest about our choice, we give up the abundant life intended for us. There is a majestic glory experience in the surrender of our desires to God. It’s unpleasant at times, but as Much-Afraid transformed herself through the pain, so too can we. Sorrow and Suffering may also accompany you, but I am beginning to understand they too transform and are more than what meets the eye.
So even though I find myself in a different medical room, it reminds me of a familiar impasse. It’s an unknown future, but the biggest difference now is not a visual one, rather a heart one. It is well with my soul no matter the report. I choose peace and joy as my response and with God’s strength – that will be what directs my life.
Training your response to life takes courage my friend, so do not be discouraged if your initial response is not the one you want to have. You have to recognize your response if you want to correct it. You may have to ask for forgiveness, make no tarry here. Invite God into this moment to forgive and give you strength for the next because as sure as your will – there will be a reset way.