Tuesday, January 30, 2007

His ways are not my ways

Well, I am finally back in the land of the living. Yes, I did get sick--and horribly so. I taught the Friday night session of our ladies' retreat without incident, but not long after we had adjourned for the evening, I found myself praying my guts out. Literally. Upon every mad dash to the bathroom, I prayed fervently, desperately, for healing, for victory, for relief. I rebuked and resisted the devil. I recalled to God the times He healed the blind man, the paralytic, the woman with the hemorrhage. This was just a stomach virus! But to no avail. Saturday morning dawned with me weak and spent, and if I am honest, pretty much mad at God for not sparing me. I had worked so hard, spent so many hours in preparation, and these women had paid money, for heaven's sake!

It turns out...as it always turns out...that God's ways were not my ways. He had a plan beyond my comprehension and upon reflection I can now even be thankful. Not so much for the virus--that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy! Here are only a few of the ways I can see that my faithful God has used what we may perceive to be the very worst of situations for His glory...

1. I remembered I am incidental to the thing that God wants to do.
I knew that this was true. I know God doesn't need my help to accomplish anything. It is only His grace that allows me the privilege of participation! But in this instance, as I dozed in and out of consciousness Saturday morning, after the worst was over, the women (the retreat attendees) met together in the common area, sang and shared. Hearts were bared, tears were shed, and as one girl described it, they "had church." One dear friend, after the retreat was over, approached me and in tears told me how much she needed that time of open and honest sharing. "I hate that you had to suffer for it, but I needed it so," she told me as she wept. Am I not willing to suffer on behalf of my friend?

2. I realized the love and the grace of friends have no limit.
Let's face it, the stomach virus, it's like leprosy. "Unclean! Unclean! Stay back! Unclean!" But my friends cared for me, brought me medicine and coke and crackers, and mothered me. All I could do was lay there and receive it. And isn't that the essence of grace? I couldn't do one thing to "deserve" their kindness or even ask for it, I could only receive...

3. I experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit in ways previously unknown.
I ended up teaching the final two sessions. (Looking I'm sure like "death warmed over") Now, there have been those times when I've taught--not every time, though I wish it were so--when the Holy Spirit has so taken over that it is as if I'm not even there. It's difficult to describe. This experience was like that, but more so. I had nothing to bring to the table. I was completely and utterly dependent on Him even for the strength to sit in my chair. The funny thing is, one of the points of the last session was being an empty vessel in order to be filled with the Spirit. I was a literal object lesson. In my weakness He was strong. In my emptiness He brought fullness.

Our God is faithful, is He not?

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
"As the heaven are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Is. 55:8-9

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Ps. 30:5

7 comments:

  1. Lisa, I am so sorry that you were sick during the retreat, but God's ways are higher than our ways sometimes. It is wonderful that you saw that and worked with Him, instead of your own schedule. You are an awesome woman of God, Lisa! Blessings!

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  2. I am so sorry you were sick. But so true, His ways are not our ways. Amen He is faithful.

    Blessings.

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  3. God used you in a mighty way this weekend, my Friend...even in "your affliction." My cloak of sadness seems to have been lifted and I seem to see changes taking place in my life in a clearer view....I needed the love of friends this weekend, desperatly needed that touch and in the rearrangement of the schedule the time was there for what I feel like was for me....I really see things in a different light and for several days I had almost been hopeless....again, I am so sorry that you were sick and yes, Girl, I love you.

    MdA

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  4. God can teach us so much through the good, bad, & ugly. Such a good reminder to seek Him no matter what.

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  5. I'm so sorry you were sick! Glad you are better! God taught you a lot through it,though. That is always my goal...to learn what it is God needs me to learn. I hope my eyes are open to see it!


    Kim

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  6. So sorry you were sick and I hope your feeling better now. I find it amazing that in the midst of being so sick you were able to be open to learn what the Lord might be saying to you. #2 really is touching. God ministering to you through the hands of your friends.

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  7. Lisa, there was a beautiful openness to the Spirit this weekend that I know was initiated by your prayerful preparation. In so many ways you were the lesson - one ordinary woman determined no matter what to obey God's calling. What love as you washed our feet with His Word! I would rather have the God-soaked reality of this weekend than any well-orchestrated conference. Thank you for serving me and Melanie and all the others even when you felt so bad. You are loved!!

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