Plea for Grace

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From the June 8 reading of “My Utmost for his Highest” by Oswald Chambers,

. . .The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans 12:1-2. It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).  . .

Romans 12:1-2 CSB – 1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

My last post was two months ago. Since then the impending flare has been pretty constant. I have never had one last this long. I am not writing because “it’s all over, yippee!” I am still in the midst . . .

Presenting my body as a living sacrifice, my true worship to my God I love so much, requires that I hold “my” plans loosely. God’s plan for me is what is best.  God is not impressed if I choose to push my body far beyond limits to “prove my devotion” — that is actually arrogance and self-promotion.

Elisabeth Elliot said, “God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus.” Precious God, use what you must so that this will be my earnest prayer —

Psalm 34:1-4 CSB – 1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.      2 I will boast in the LORD; the humble will hear and be glad. 3 Proclaim the LORD’s greatness with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears.

[Psa 56:1-13 CSB] 1 Be gracious to me, God, for a man is trampling me; he fights and oppresses me all day long. 2 My adversaries trample me all day, for many arrogantly fight against me. 3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 5 They twist my words all day long; all their thoughts against me are evil. 6 They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps while they wait to take my life. 7 Will they escape in spite of such sin? God, bring down the nations in wrath. 8 You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? 9 Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere humans do to me? 12 I am obligated by vows to you, God; I will make my thank offerings to you. 13 For you rescued me from death, even my feet from stumbling, to walk before God in the light of life. 

I don’t normally use my blog postings to discuss my health stuff . . .having said that . . .

For the last two days my system has been “building up” to a really nasty autoimmune flare. I’ve been dealing with this stuff long enough that I can feel when something is coming on (those of you who have arthritic ankles that ache just before it rains will understand). Here is the humbling thing for this recovering perfectionist/control/plan person — though there are things I can do to lessen the effects of the flare, to clear my schedule so that the flare doesn’t cause even more stress; I cannot control exactly when it will hit, or exactly how long it will stay. I can’t even control which systems will ultimately flare!

In crying out to the Lord ([Psa 18:6 CSB] 6 I called to the LORD in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.) Psalm 56 came to mind. Anyone else so incredibly grateful that Psalm 18:6 is true?!

Granted, David is not battling an autoimmune flare. He has actually people lying about him, tarnishing his reputation, hunting him down to kill him. Yet, 2 Timothy 3:16 is equally true. ALL Scripture is breathed out by God. All is profitable. . .

I stopped at David’s first request — be gracious to me, God. Oh, I so need God’s grace! I know He is Sovereign. I know He is good. I know He is always with me. . .but when the “why” questions overshadow the “why not;” when the “how long this time” and “why now” questions try to push out the truth of God’s Word, I so depend on God’s grace. He does not ridicule me because the fight is hard.

Next, David spells out exactly why he is crying to God for grace. This actually requires humility. I so want to pretend that I don’t really have these symptoms, that if I just had the willpower . . .but today my nerves in my hands and feet feel like someone is doing shock collar practice; my vision is blurred; I can’t seem to focus; and I feel like I am trying to breathe through one of those teeny red coffee stirrers. Fighting panic, and telling my systems that I really can breathe, no one is really shocking me, I can actually see, is such an effort.

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise . . . Not ‘if’ I am afraid, but ‘when.’ God is not shocked and appalled by my battle. He actually provides a place to go, and weapons to fight. His Word, His presence. God’s care is so personal. Keeping count of my wanderings — not to hold them over my head in condemnation, but to remind me that He has been there every single time. Putting my tears in his bottle (though there are times I am convinced it’s more like the 5-gallon gas can); and then, the apex — this I know, that God is for me . . .He truly is. He is for me. I am His.

So, now what? I continue to obey my God who is for me. I am thankful for so much, including that I have His Word and His Presence so that I don’t feel that I am going through any of this in my own strength. Left to my own devices . . .no, thank you . . .and because of His care, and his answer to that Psalm 18:6 plea, I know that God has rescued me from death, he keeps my feet from stumbling (into believing lies about God and choosing to sin because what’s the point in obedience and trust?), and the hope (read surety) that I will be with God one day, no flares, no pain, no fighting to trust and obey.

And at least I can still knit. I don’t need to see well, and it helps to distract from the pain and difficulty breathing. And, there’s audible.com . . .

 


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