“If you don’t try, I can’t glorify Myself.” – God
The Bible is clear that our walk with the Lord will not always be roses. In fact, it will likely be the opposite. Christians face persecutions precisely because they believe Something so contrary to worldly standards. In America we’re ostracized because of Biblical views on marriage and gender (to name a few). In other parts of the world Christians are discriminated against in business and law. Yet in others, simply carrying the title of Christian means imprisonment and death. However, despite all this outward opposition and potential real-life threats, I would argue that some of our biggest battles as Christians are fought within ourselves. In my (American) experience, I’ve learned that as hard as it can be at times to stand opposed to society’s worldview, it’s even harder to let the Lord mold and shape my inner self.
Last summer when I heard the Lord speak within the depths of my heart, “If you don’t try [to go to the wedding], I can’t glorify myself,” I had no idea how thoroughly God meant that in my life (I wrote about this experience in Part 1 of this two-part series). Recently I’ve learned another thread to His statement – and it was a far less joyous experience for me.
Once again it all started with the promise of treasured family time. Having lived with the crippling fatigue of fibromyalgia for three years, and with debilitating chronic migraines for one year, I knew this weekend of fun would come with painful consequences. But I also so desperately craved relationship with family that I was determined to power through. And for the first day I did just that, with all the reward of loving memories. On day two, though, my house of cards collapsed. Physically crushed, and with plans canceled, disappointment reigned and my anger with God raged. I couldn’t power-through this migraine or this heart-ache. In hindsight, I think this is exactly where God wanted me to be this weekend; broken often means moldable.
My heart burning and full of frustration, I was desperate for reassurance. So I opened my Bible, a tried and true habit developed for difficult times. As it was Easter weekend, my bookmark had me reading John 18. Verse 11 stopping me in my tracks:
“So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Peter, believing that Jesus was the promised King (and not understanding that Jesus wasn’t establishing an earthly Kingdom at that time), drew his sword to fight back against the arrest of Jesus. Rather than applauding Peter for his dedication to Him, Jesus rebukes Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath.” As I read this, I heard Jesus say to Peter (and, thus, to me), “Stop fighting!”
Those two words – stop fighting! …Nicki, stop fighting My plan for you!
Dear readers, know that this revelation didn’t spark joy or immediate peace in me. No, I remained bitter for several hours, unwilling to accept the “cup the Father had given me.” You may be wondering, as I was, what happened to my faith. Even hours before I would’ve aggressively stood my ground as a child of God, and could’ve spoken of my peace with fibro and chronic migraines because of my faith in Jesus. But at that moment, none of it seemed to matter; I wanted my life back.
Over the next few hours the Lord revealed to me that there was mighty spiritual warfare occurring. The scary part wasn’t that it was occurring, but that I wasn’t sure who I wanted to win. Thankfully, deep down, I had already given my heart to Jesus so that when I was unwilling to engage the enemy, the Holy Spirit was engaging on my behalf (Romans 8:16, 26-27). Slowly, the Spirit began feeding me truths about my identity as God’s daughter and reminding me of His promises to me as such. Within minutes I stopped carrying my sword and surrendered again to Jesus. I repented, praised God for His faithfulness once more, and rebuked the devil – right there in my parent’s kitchen, arms raised and out-loud.
While I ultimately claimed victory in Jesus that day, be assured that I’m shaken by how weak my faith proved to be against the treasure of family time. How did that happen? still rattles within me. What has become clear, though, is that rather than “boasting of my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:10),” and celebrating every moment I could participate with family as God’s mighty provision for me, I took up the burden and tried to micro-manage my health with my own willpower, which became my “house of cards.” Meaning, the pleasurable family wedding experience last summer was a direct result of me “drinking the cup the Father has given me” – acknowledging throughout that my control had nothing to do with His endurance for me. Only in knowing that each moment is not possible without God’s grace, can I fully participate in life with fibro and chronic migraines. And fighting that inner battle is sometimes harder than facing the visible enemies on the outside.
So, next time we have something fun planned together, feel free to ask me if I’m walking in my own power or in the power of Jesus – I may need that reminder to surrender to God’s plan.