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Thoughts on Mud and Prayer

The past couple of months have been a bumpy ride for me. I’ve had a lot of health issues that not only make me feel bad physically, but wear on my faith. The worst problem I’ve had has been low blood pressure. I’ve actually passed out in my wheelchair a couple of times. If my blood pressure drops, it is necessary for me to lean back in my wheelchair so my feet are above my heart. Sometimes my pressure will correct itself within a few minutes. But sometimes the whole day is wasted over nonstop periods of dizziness and headaches.

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Spiritual Rehydration

The idea of persevering wears me out. I get very scared that I’ll have to live in this body for several more years. I wonder if I can handle it. I know perseverance builds character, and character builds hope (Romans 5:3-4), but some days I just don’t feel like I have the energy to keep exercising my character muscles. I get so weary. Even as I began to write this post I felt so discouraged, but something told me to push through. I sat and looked at the screen wondering what I was going to say. Then Psalm 23 came to mind.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. — Psalm 23:1-2

It’s so easy for me to forget where my strength and peace comes from. In my flesh, I am incapable of dealing with the worries and troubles of this world. The weights that we all carry on our shoulders zap our strength and dehydrate us. Only God can refresh our soul.

Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. — Psalm 1:1-3

I have low blood pressure as a result of my injury. If I don’t stay hydrated, I can pass out sitting in my chair. It can be very dangerous. In the same way, if I don’t meditate on the right things, I experience a spiritual drought. There is no fruit in my life, my leaf withers, and I don’t prosper emotionally. It’s a bad place to be. I find myself in this drought when I am more focused on the troubles of this world and the worries about tomorrow. I find myself in this drought when I allow myself to be guided by negative emotions rather than by God’s strong arm. God is my only hope for contentment and peace. And for this reason I can persevere one more day.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. — Psalm 73:24-27

The Beauty of Affliction

We all have a journey. I’ve been fighting mine as a paralyzed person because it’s felt so hard. I’ve been trying to tell God, this is too much for me. I kept thinking that he would make it easier because of my diligent prayers and the prayers of so many others in my life. And yet in many ways things just got harder. There were more visits to the ICU and more physical pain. There was more emotional turmoil and a deep depression. And I just couldn’t understand why he was allowing these things to occur.

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. — Psalm 119: 71

Suffering and affliction can bring about a desperation for God. I’ve learned things when I’ve suffered that I never would’ve learned when things were going along nicely. It’s my most painful moments that make me desperate to hold on to Jesus and believe his words. I want to know him in a way I’ve never wanted to before. I thirst for a close relationship with him. When I feel the worst inside, I think about him grasping onto my arm as if I were hanging off the side of a cliff. It gives me comfort and peace.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33

There was a time in my life when I knew the truth about God but chose not to live according to it. I drank too much and got into dangerous relationships. Nothing could fill my empty soul. I finally reached out to a support group and was able to get sober for almost 3 years. That’s when I began to reach out to God once again and sought the fellowship of Christians in a bible-based church. And if you know my story, you know that I fasted one day, fainted in my kitchen, and woke up paralyzed.

I have often questioned why this happened to me when I was on my road to recovery. My road to reconnect with God and people. Why such a tragedy? Why now? It seems like when I was on my way to getting my life fixed, it suddenly became broken. Snapped like the C4 vertebrae in my neck. In a split second – the blink of an eye – everything changed.

I have contemplated this idea of my life being broken during my “upswing” for a little over two years. I have come to this conclusion: Is my life really broken? Or am I being healed?

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. — Psalm 119:67-68

Praise God

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Last week I spent three days confined to my bed because my wheelchair was broken. Being confined to my bed sucks the life out of me. When this happens I have too much time to think. Because I can’t move I get anxious and paranoid and feel like I want to jump out of my skin. I get deeply depressed.

It’s inevitable during these times that I question God and his plan for me. I feel like this is so unfair and I don’t understand. If he would only give me a hint of why this is happening. But I just seem to go from one day to the next confused about my life circumstances. Dazed and confused. And very, very angry.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. — Hebrews 13:15

It is important for me to continually praise God even in the midst of suffering. It is important for me to share with others my praise of and trust in God. What is happening to me has a greater purpose than what I can see. One day I will praise God for these life circumstances. I have to hold on from day to day and focus on things above and not what’s happening here on earth. Easier said than done!

The day this happened, I prayed diligently for God to do something to help me to connect with him. I definitely felt like I couldn’t get my life together enough to stay focused on what was important. I’m not saying God “did” this to me. But I do believe he allowed it and it has a purpose. No matter how it came about, I don’t want to go back to my former way of life. I was miserable and confused. But I don’t want to be paralyzed either. I’m still miserable and confused.

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:13

The Lord said, “Surely I will set you free for purposes of good… — Jeremiah 15:11

God has a good purpose in all of this. For this reason, I can praise him. One day I will be set free. There will be no more pain. There will be no more sadness. There will be no more confusion. For this reason, I can praise him.

Just Breathe

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Some days I spend a lot of time taking deep breaths because I feel like I’m suffocating. This is one of those days. Lately I’ve been so unmotivated. I don’t want to stay in bed and yet I don’t want to get in my wheelchair. I hate feeling like this.

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” — Psalm 16:1-2

If I couldn’t pray I would certainly be insane. I have no props. I have no crutches. I can’t sleep this situation away. I can’t get drunk enough to put me out of my misery. I’m stuck in this paralyzed body.

And yet even when I was able-bodied, I felt stuck. Unfortunately, I had many props when I was able-bodied and I often relied on them to make myself feel better. I charged up a lot of credit cards and I drank a little too much wine. I spent a lot of time in the gym trying to look perfect. I spent too much time at work trying to get ahead. None of this ever solved anything.

Now I have no other choice but to pray, believe that the Scriptures are true, and let you know how I feel. This is a good thing and it reiterates Psalm 16: apart from God I have no good thing. For this reason, I can breathe.

Gentle Love

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I’ve had a rough few weeks. I have been battling God on the idea of whether or not I can handle this life journey as a paralyzed person. I have said repeatedly in my blogs that I believe my accident has a greater purpose. And yet each morning when I wake up I am frustrated when I open my eyes. I wonder how I can live through another 24 hours in this dead body. I get angry and I get afraid, but I look to God’s word for comfort. He always speaks to me gently.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. — Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

Psalm 139 is a love story. It describes how intimately I am known and loved by God. He knows how I feel. He knows exactly what I can or can’t handle. He knows when I feel worthless. He knows when I am deeply discouraged. He knows when I rejoice. This Psalm teaches me I am not alone in my feelings.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. — Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Not only does God know how I feel at all times, I can never escape him. On my worst day, God does not leave my side. I cannot out run him (nor does he want me to). Over the last year and a half, when I felt like he was punishing me or he had abandoned me, he was right by my side holding my hand. He was guiding me back to the truth about his loving and unchanging character.

I often question God’s decision making and what he’s allowed to occur in my life. I often get angry because I don’t want to endure it. Sometimes it feels like his love hurts. And yet he still stands by me through all of these emotions. He knows I am resisting. He knows I am weary. He knows I am mad. But none of this changes his perfect, unshakable, all-knowing love for me.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

True Healing

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Since I became a quadriplegic in August 2013, I’ve spent most of my time thinking of this whole ordeal as a negative event. We all have difficult or catastrophic events in our lives, and becoming paralyzed from the shoulders down was my catastrophic event. Losing the things I thought made up my identity—my home, my job, my physical appearance, all of my material possessions—was an adjustment I was not prepared to face. And learning to live life in a facility with 24 hour dependence on others was frustrating, degrading at times, and very discouraging.

Being completely overwhelmed and confused about why this happened I diligently searched in my Bible, prayed, and asked for input from other trusted Christians. No light bulb went off during the first year. In fact, I had some devastating things happen during that time and found myself asking God, what good is all of this? I was bitter and filled with rage much of the time. I was angry at God and angry at people.

Amazingly enough, over the last few weeks I feel like I’ve gained some positive perspective on my quadriplegia. Don’t get me wrong—I haven’t had a day yet when I felt happy about my current life circumstances. There are days when I just want to give up and wish I could disappear from this earth. In all honesty, I think there will be many more days like that ahead. And yet as much as I want to fight putting the next statement on paper (and saying it out loud) I’m going to do it anyway: something inside of me is pushing me to believe this is not a bad thing at all. This seemingly “negative” life change could actually be a good and perfect gift.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. — James 1:17 (NLT)

When I get weary of living this way, I sometimes think of Paul. Although I don’t dare compare my circumstances to Paul as he went through life-threatening events almost daily, I do know the Lord chose not to take away his thorn (whatever it was) so his power could be revealed.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”… For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, and v. 10 (NLT)

I talked with a dear friend of almost 30 years, who I consider to be a spiritual mentor, about healing. She taught me that healing comes to us in different ways. It’s not always physical healing that we need. I realized when I was able-bodied I looked for self-worth through things of this world and I never felt at peace or complete. Now that I have none of these worldly things I am completely reliant on God for my peace and sense of completeness. This has been and continues to be a soul healing process and it has only come to me as a result of my accident.

I have quoted this passage in several of my posts and will do it again…

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. — Romans 8:28 (NLT)