This abiding work is hard stuff, huh? Abiding and seeking forgiveness when I’d rather not. Abiding and trusting deeply when the MRI shows even more new lesions and it appears the medicine is not working and we need to switch. Abiding in quietness of heart when the well-thought-out plans get messed up. Abiding in His rest and presence when the new box of cheerio’s are split, a poopy diaper got removed by a toddler, and another is running hands out towards it, and I’m being yelled at like I’m the terrorist in this situation! Abiding. Cupping those small faces with my hands and responding in peace and love and joy knowing my response is pointing them to or from a loving Savior who can handle their every need. And, THEY are watching my abiding. My kids, my husband, my friends, my neighbors. Not only the people I can see, but the angels and the demons. Wow. To glorify God in my abiding in Him – even when I think no one else sees it. The angels and demons look on in wonder when we choose to glorify God in our response of abiding. Angels cheering us on and demons maddened as we plunder the gates of hell with our abiding in Christ.
And not that we could ever, hear me, ever do it on our own. That ‘being kept’ is by the Lord. Andrew Murray says it well: “He says ‘Abide IN ME’. He offers Himself, the Keeper of Israel that slumbers not nor sleeps, with all His power and love, as the living home of the soul, where the mighty influences of His grace will be stronger to keep than all their feebleness to lead astray….that word abide is even so the band with which He holds you fast and binds you to Himself. Let the soul take time to listen to the voice of Jesus. ‘In me’, he says, ‘is thy place – in my almighty arms.” (Andrew Murray, Abide in Me)
I can’t give you a check list to abiding. That’s why it’s hard. But you’ll know it. And it’s worth it. So, stay. Do the hard work of staying, remaining, abiding. He will produce the fruit. He will grow the roots deep and unshakable in the midst of the earth-quaking storms of unforeseen diagnosis’, depression, slandering words, broken relationships, and yes, even poop on the floor.
On September 8th we got “official news” that I have MS. Although we knew unofficially, words like: abnormal, high, at least 25 lesions on the brain, more lesions on spinal cord, enhancement/active demyelination, can really do a number on your heart. I was stuck. Unable to move forward. We had known from the fact that I had these crazy dystonic episodes when I was pregnant with Maggie (our 4th blessing), I was just getting over a blinding dose of optic neuritis, an abnormal MRI, and some other numbness and tingling issues I had (apparently that’s not normal?) that MS was all but officially diagnosed. (By the way, it is amazing that I can literally say “I was blind but now I see” and it takes on a whole new depth of meaning!) So, when the lumbar puncture results came back, the answer was complete.
I thought an answer would give some satisfaction, but it didn’t. I temporarily was putting my hope in something unable to meet my expectation. And, for a day, I felt trapped. Trapped by fear, uncertainty, the inability to “fix it”. Most of all though, trapped by the answer. Maybe it was the finality of it that sucked out the breath of hope I didn’t know I was holding in.
Nevertheless, the Lord, in His mercy rescued me from the darkness I was sitting in and brought me into the light of HIM. He reminded me that His mercies are truly new every morning. That next morning I clung truth that I DO know and what I can ALWAYS be sure of, and that is this: getting God is more satisfying than any answer, or any gift for that matter. If he allowed the answer, the prognosis, or the gift, to be more satisfying, then I wouldn’t seek him. It’s his grace that allows the answer, while helpful, to produce little peace or confidence because then I would not seek, depend on, and trust him as the better and more satisfying answer.
WHO I get – Jesus – is far more satisfying that WHAT I get. An answer (or gift, or person, or circumstance) can neither produce, nor steal, anything from me. ALL things are under HIS feet. The wind and the waves KNOW HIS name. The enemy may steal and seek to kill and destroy, but MY KING authors, and lavishes, and frees. And He is completely trustworthy, faithful, kind, loving, and beyond satisfying.
So bring on the mystery, the questions, the unpredictability. Bring on the good days and bring on the bad days. Because if I could map it out myself, I would never in a million years do it this way. I would never do it the way God does it. And I would never lead myself to the Lord. Thankfully, He is too good to let me do that.
Hebrews 2:8-9 “Now in putting everything in subjection to Him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. BUT we SEE HIM … Jesus!”