Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
I wanted to explore more on the subject of following. In my last post I talked about the realization that people are watching me in my suffering and how that terrifies me. I guess what terrifies me most is the pressure to do things right. I don’t always have a smile only my face. I’m grumpy at times. And guess what……there are days I don’t get out of bed because I just can’t. My side has a mind of its own – I never really know what will set it off and to what extent the pain will go. There are times when it is very manageable, other times are stay-in-bed times.
And…..I complain. I whine. I gripe about my lot in life. Why do I do this? I guess it releases the tension I feel inside, but the reality is I shouldn’t even entertain it. When I feel the complaints stacking up in my mind like planes in Denver, I need to push them back. Don’t let them flow from my mouth. I am a lover of Jesus, and what really do I have to complain about? Nothing. My eternal future is secure. I have a Redeemer who lives. I have a Saviour who loves me and leads and guides me. I have a husband who loves me and children who are amazing.
So, what is there to this following? I have told my children over the years that we are either two things – a good example or a bad example. And it’s true. I can shine the light of Jesus in this suffering or I can curse anyone and everyone. I have to admit that this is where the rubber meets the road. Letting Him shine when it hurts is very difficult. It is very hard to be nice when you feel miserable. Even just having a bad case of hayfever is enough to set one over the edge. I know because I have those said allergies.
So, what is there to learn in all this? Can we truly rise up and be the godly witness that God wants us to be? I believe the answer is yes, but it does not come without a serious workout on our part. The plain and simple truth is that it is not easy to do this. Why?
That’s why. My self gets in the way. I read in Mark 8:34 – “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” I have to die to myself. I have to deny my self. I have got to let it starve all the while I feed the spiritual woman in me. How do I implement the starvation plan? First off, I choose to separate myself from the world. In my affliction that has meant not taking prescription pain medication. It has meant allowing God to lead me to the right doctors and not pursuing those on my own. Believe you me, this is much harder than it sounds. I have had every pill presented to me. I have chased many different specialties trying to figure this out and it has only left me more frustrated. It has also been a whirlwind of emotions because it seems that the answer is out there and it is my job to find it. It has taken me four and a half years to realize I have been chasing a lie. I got chicken flesh just typing this out. That’s it. Listening to the world and trying to play by its rules NEVER wins. I was doing the medical thing. I have lots of people tell me to do this or take that. But you know what? These things may be good and work for other people, but it is not what God wants for me. How do I know?
A few months into this affliction I was very impressed from God that this is from Him and it is not a result of anything I did. It is strictly, tailor-made for me. No matter what I do or what I take will not make it go away. I mean, really? This suffering is from the hand of God? Yes. It’s His world, His people and His way. I did accept it at that, but that is not to say I have done it willingly all the time. I T I S V E R Y D I F F I C U L T. Try telling that to someone. You should see the look on their faces. And then they walk away with, “Wow, look what kind of trouble she’s in.” I know that this affliction is for me because I have read in so many places in the Bible that He is perfecting me, He is shaping me into the image of His Son, Jesus. I read in the Psalms of others who have cried out in their agony, so I know that I am not alone. God has confirmed over and over again that He is for me and not against me. He is a good good Father. I know this full well.
“The path of suffering is the way of the Cross.”
I have heard this statement many times by many different people in my life. It is meant to comfort, but sometimes the Truth hurts. So, if we are to follow, then I need to follow Jesus. He suffered and He died. And He did it willingly. People spat on Him. They cursed Him. Mocked Him. Crucified Him. And He did not even yell back. What can I learn from this???
If my Jesus went through all this and He was victorious, then I can be too. The Bible is full of promises to that effect. He is my Rock and my Refuge. I can run to Him and be safe (Proverbs 18:10). Even from my self.
God has called me to be holy. And holy means…..set apart.
I need to be, look and act different than the world. Even in suffering. I would say that this means to ‘consider it all joy’ when I am hurting. It would mean to smile with a deep sense of awe when I have to limit my activities. I believe this is the hardest for me. I have to go in a wheelchair if I want to go on a long walk with my family down our road. I can’t clean my house, oh I do little things, but not like I used to. Or garden. Or run into town and hit the market. John does the weekly grocery shopping (he’s doing a great job), because it is just too much to drive there, walk from the parking lot, do the whole store, load up the car with the groceries and go to the next stop; then drive home and put it all away. I get stuck at the first parking lot. I have so much more compassion for people who struggle with their health. I NEVER thought about it before, but just running to the store is enough to put me down for days.
Jesus is an amazing example to follow. He even said for us to come to Him and He will teach us what is means.
Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Here we have that yoke again. I need to walk to Him and clamp it on. He will not force it on me. I can do things my way, or I can go the way of the Cross with Him. Plus, it’s when the yoke is on that I can learn from Him. He is a great teacher. The Great Teacher. He reminds us that He is gentle. He won’t yank me around, nor throw me to the wolves. He will lead me. It is I who must choose to follow. And since He is the ultimate example of humility, I can finally learn what to do with SELF. And it is in this yoke time that I will find the rest that I am longing for. I can stop fighting this suffering and the affliction and allow Jesus to teach me what He has been wanting to teach me all along. I have a feeling it has something to do with honoring and glorifying Him in all things.
Because it is always about that. God is worthy of all my worship and all my praise. He gives me opportunities after opportunities to do just that. Jesus gave all the honor and glory to God and when I truly follow Jesus I will be doing the same.
Even in suffering. Even in an affliction.