Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Wings / God's Wings

Job was a very religious man. He did everything by the book, careful to observe every tradition and ordinance practiced by righteousness men. He even offered sacrifices on behalf on his children in case they had sinned.
In God’s view he was ”blameless and upright and one who feared God and shunned evil”.
(Job 1:1)
Yet it wasn’t enough!!

Often when Job is discussed the focus is on his troubles and pain and suffering, and we shake our head with wonder over what he had to endure.
Rarely does the discussion go far enough to look at Job’s evaluation of his experience.
We are relieved to see the 'happily ever after' ending to Job's story but we miss the fact that the restoration of monetary wealth and a quiver full of children are not the riches that Job valued for the rest of his life.
He gained something much more valuable through his trial of suffering.

In his own words in the last chapter of his story, Job says “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW my eye sees You...”
Before his suffering, Job believed in God but what he knew about God had come ‘second hand’ or by ‘word of mouth’ from other people – Job knew only what he had heard about God.
After his suffering he knew God from personal experience –‘first hand’. He had come to know God intimately, had heard His voice, had felt His presence, had seen His heart and wisdom and love!
When we are first introduced to Job we see that he lived in fear! (Job 3; 25)
When we leave Job his fears are gone… his faith in God had reached a higher plateau. He had discovered the truth expressed in I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…”.

None of us seek for or embrace the times of pain and suffering that come to all of us , but the richness those times bring to our relationship with God make them all worth while!

It is at those times when you have no where to turn but God that the before-thought-important things of this life are overshadowed by our suffering and we suddenly see the clarity of God in our life.
It is then that we experience the sweetness of His love and presence in a way we could never have imagined.

I used to be strong and healthy and had no thought that that would ever change. But it did.
There was a period of time for about a year where I thought my life as I had always known it was gone for good.
I had not yet been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus and my body was in full attack. I found the simple, take-for-granted activities of life difficult or impossible. The joints in my neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, ankles, feet were so inflamed and swollen they pulled the collagen from my muscles and made getting up from a sitting position, turning over in bed, opening the fridge door , brushing my hair literally impossible to do.
And the pain was excruciating.
Yet, there was the sweetness of God’s reassuring presence that kept me in a quiet place of peace! It cannot be described!

That kind of peace does not come from ‘hearing’ about God. It comes only from experiencing Him.

My life was reduced to survival-mode – everything I wanted to do had to be first evaluated in terms of possibility and pain level.
I could only find a few minutes of relative pain-relief if I lay very still - except for the pain in my shoulders - no position alleviated the pain there.
One night before snatching a few minutes sleep ( the pain did not allow more than a few minutes at a time because any involuntary twitching would jar me awake from the jolt of pain) I realized that my shoulder pain was somewhat less. I remember thinking, 'I wonder what I did to make it hurt less?'
Falling sleep with that thought, I had a dream.

The next morning I laughingly told my husband that I knew why my shoulder was somewhat better. It was because I had cut off my wings!!
He looked at me with a quizzical look and waited for the explanation.
I told him my dream. I dreamt that I had cut off my wings and in my dream I had run my hand across the places where they had been and realized that I had done a good job of cutting them off right at the root!! I could barely feel where they had once been.

I was used to having ‘silly’ dreams and thought this one was just one more.

Later that morning Vic’s nephew called and said he had been praying for me and had a verse for me. The verse was in Malachi 4:2. “But to you who fear My name the Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”
Immediately I thought of my dream and realized that it was not ‘silly’ but had a message in it from God.
I saw the meaning.
As long as I trusted in my ‘own wings’ to bear the pain, to try to cope with the changed circumstances of my life, trusting in my own strength to bear it – it would be difficult to impossible, but if I cut off my own wings and trusted in the Wings of God to carry me I could trust in His strength to see me through!
I loved the picture.
And the theme of God’s wings continued. The next Sunday we sang a chorus where a line jumped out at me about ‘trusting under His wings’.
I began to see reference to God’s wings, the comfort we find there, the safety, the strength, the love – Everywhere! It became a secret code between God and me – His little surprise love notes to remind me that He was with me and would carry me through.

And of course God did!! He is always enough!!
I have learned that in the difficult times of life, no matter how deep our pain or suffering is, if we allow God to walk with us, the experience leaves no lingering bitterness in our soul…. Only the sweetness and joy of His presence
I can say with Job…”Now I know you, because I have seen you”.

No matter what your trial or sorrow is, no matter how big or small, look to God, let Him in and your experience will become one that you treasure.
This earthly life may promise only pain… but God promises overcoming joy !


Lovella said...

I do love those deer pictures, and and the post about deer was so fitting.

Yes, Julie you have truly suffered with your illness, and what a joy to see you not only survive but also to grow and flourish. I have such admiration for those living with chronic pain.

Your dream was fascinating. Don't you just love how personal God is?

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

What an interesting dream. Are you not very happy that you remembered it?