Monday, January 30, 2012

Wrestling with Satan

I left you hanging a bit at the end of the last blog post, but I was still processing what had happened that Sunday morning. During those previous two weeks, not only had I started to spiritually find my way back, but I had also started to physically improve. I had gotten tired of walking around the block and had started walking the almost mile around the neighborhood. My breathing exercises had shown a real improvement, as well. So, when DeLayne asked on Saturday night if I wanted to go to church Sunday morning, I told her that I thought I would give it a shot. I have not been to church for several weeks, and after this last stint in the hospital, I have been afraid of being in large groups of people, especially during the peak flu season. However, I knew I needed to be back in the body for worship.

After I got up Sunday morning and had breakfast, I did my first round of breathing exercises and saw the best early-morning results yet. I thought that was a good sign to start getting ready for church. However, after taking my shower, I noticed that I was really short of breath. I also noticed my back was beginning to hurt worse, and I started to doubt that I would be able to get out of the house. As I sat on the bed trying to catch my breath, I asked why all of a sudden this was such a battle. That's when I heard my little voice say, "Satan doesn't want you in church." So moving a little slower but with more determination, I continued to get dressed and ready for church, but I could tell that the wrestling match was not going to end.

After parking at church, we still had a couple of hundred yards to walk to the entrance. The closer we got, the harder each step became. This was a much shorter walk than I have been doing, but with each of the final few steps I was saying, "Help me, Jesus." Once I was in the church, I noticed that I was breathing hard, but my feet and legs felt lighter. I was able to make my way into the sanctuary and sit down and begin catching my breath. I had made it to church.

After the service, I realized why Satan wrestled with me every step to church. Once again, the service was filled with hymns that contained words I needed to hear. The sermon was from Psalm 139 and about how God had put me together. He knew the plans He had for me and that only He knew the number of my days. Satan did not want me to be encouraged. He doesn't want me back in the game. But thanks to Jesus, Satan has lost another match, and I am on the way back.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Pathway Back

After posting "A Broken Vessel," I was pretty well spent. I was unsure how I would recover from all that had happened the previous week. I could not formulate a plan in my head and was not just real impressed with where God's plan had me. That Sunday morning it became evident that even though I was not particularly interested in spending time with God, He still wanted to spend time with me.

After waking up Sunday morning, I turned on the TV and, out of habit, started looking for Dr. Charles Stanley. After flipping through a few channels, I found him and was shocked to see that his message that day was about challenges to our faith. When he said that all of us face failures in our faith sometimes, I about yelled, "Preach on, Brother!" He went on to make the point that God uses these tests as a means to increase and stretch our faith. I began to realize that I was being stretched, and it was not very comfortable.

After watching Dr. Stanley, I flipped a few more channels and heard another familiar voice. I had stumbled onto Dr. David Jeremiah's broadcast. His message that day was on fighting discouragement. Really? In the course of his message, he said that all Christians will become discouraged. The only way to overcome deep discouragement is to read the Bible, but sometimes you will be so discouraged that you will have to force feed yourself. He said that you will have to pray that God give you verses of encouragement and that He sends you some encouragers.

So, on Sunday afternoon, I humbled myself and asked God to forgive me for my bad attitude, that He give me some verses of encouragement, and send people to encourage me. When I opened my Bible, God provided verses that once again established that He was, is, and will forever be in control. He knows my situation better than I do and that I have to trust His direction.

Sunday evening, my phone rang, and it was my sister calling to encourage me and lift my spirits. Then I started receiving e-mails and comments on my blog. People started thanking me for being honest about my battle and telling me that they would be praying for me. Then on Tuesday morning, a woman that I have never met left me a comment about how my latest blog entry had helped her and her mother understand what another family member was going through. Even in my brokenness, God was still building.

These last two weeks I have still had to force feed myself some days. But at least I know I am now on the pathway back. The pathway has been largely uphill, and there was one more battle I would have to fight. I'll save that for the next post.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Broken Vessel

Broken – that’s what I am: broken. I cannot remember at any point in my life being as broken as I am right now. As I told one of the doctors, it is like all of my dominoes were in a line and someone walked up and pushed the first one, and now I am powerless to stop them. Since mid-September, there has been one health issue after another, and they have finally taken their toll.

Physically, I am exhausted. I am not sure there is any part of my body that is working as it should; even when it does work, it hurts. Just sitting up to eat or taking a short walk wears me out. Rolling over in bed takes tremendous effort. I try not to take many of the pain meds prescribed for me, but sometimes, they are the only answer.

Emotionally, I find myself becoming more disconnected each day. The doctor from Care Support told me it is okay to cry and would probably be good for me. I just thought, “Dude, if I could, I would.” I feel like I have no control and all of the emotion has been sucked out of me.

Mentally, I am fatigued. I feel like I have pulled all nighters for finals for the past week. Putting two thoughts together is becoming a real challenge. I do my best to just focus on each day and what it will take to get through it, but with the string of bad days that I have had, it is hard to think of better days coming.

Spiritually, I have been drained. This is the area that most disturbs me. I try to read my Bible, but I just can’t muster the desire. I try to pray, but all that will come out is, “God, please fix something!” Early one morning, I was lying in bed pleading with God to show me some mercy. Suddenly, I realized the song "It is Well with My Soul" was playing in my head. I got mad and told God that under no circumstances was any of this well with my soul. Then I tried to recall some memory verses, and the only verse that would come to mind was, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” That pretty well summed up my feelings at that moment.

I still believe that God is here and He is working; I just wish I could feel Him more. I still believe that there will be something good come from all of this; I just wish I could see it. I still believe that God is and will be glorified in all of this. I just wish He would get some glory somewhere else for awhile.

Can God still use a broken vessel like me? I have read before that God saves His greatest work for His vessels after they have been broken and He has put them back together. I guess we will see how He puts this one back together.