There are things that are worse than dying. Living the rest of your life in a vegetative state, the inability to swallow, loss of the ability to speak. A catastrophic stroke leaving you unable to walk or care for yourself. Loss of hearing, facial numbness, ocular……
As the neurosurgeon listed all of the higher than normal risks of my upcoming brain surgery, his words faded into the distance as I began to pray. “Are you really asking me to intrust myself to doctors and nurses like this again??”
I have learned over the past year when fear comes calling, there is only one place that truly renews my peace. Just as Psalm 119:105 says, God’s word has become an increasingly brighter lamp to my feet and light onto my path. It reminds me of my foundation, steadies my shaky heart and grounds me again in enduring truth no matter the circumstance or fear.
Once again in the throws of fear, it was time for me to stop, wait, trust and believe in the Lord’s faithful guidance through his word.
The first verse that came to mind set my feet on the path I am walking today.
1 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
I love how God can use one simple verse to calm my heart, bring me back to my foundation with him and remind me that my emotions do not have to rule my days! As I calmed down, another familiar verse came to mind, albeit with a new perspective that has brought incredible encouragement to me this past week.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs 3:6 has always been one of my favorite life verses when I am faced with difficult decisions or circumstances. In the past though, I thought the “straight paths” mentioned meant a life of ease, blessing, abundance or peace. Last week however, I wondered when those “straight paths” lead to a season of suffering, does that mean I’ve missed the will of God? I don’t think so. Consider with me the last days of Jesus’ life.
Just days after Peter declared he was the Christ, Jesus began a journey that lead him to Jerusalem and ultimately his death. Story after story throughout the Gospels it says, “Jesus had compassion on them.” Jesus loved, healed, raised the dead, and served by washing his disciples feet and feeding multitudes. At the same time he was caring for others, Jesus mentioned at least three times all he would suffer in the coming days. He understood all that was still to come.
Until the very night he was betrayed, Jesus was not overcome by the pain he would endure, rather he was focused on the journey of love he was on. Though he fully understood the straight path he was walking led him to the place where he would be betrayed, wrongly accused, mistreated, spit upon, beaten and crucified he lived a life of abounding love. Simply amazing!
On the night he was given over to authorites by Judas, we see a very different picture of Jesus. Openly overcome and oh so weak he cried out to His Father in Heaven.
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:42-44
So frail, so broken and I am sure so utterly frightened because of all he was about to endure, Jesus was still able to plant his feet on the straight path before him because he intrusted himself to his Father in Heaven – the King of love.
I believe Jesus was able to do this, because he lived the truth of Proverbs 3:5,6. When he trusted God the Father with all of his heart, grace abounded around him and through him despite unthinkinkable realities. That grace — that amazing grace –that carried him through to the very end is evident when he closed his eyes to his own suffering and looked with compassion on his mom.
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26, 27
It was also even more clear when he cried out near death on the cross in Luke 23:24,
…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Oh how I want to be more and more like Jesus. Though my coming surgery is nothing like the cross, it is very difficult to face. When I look down the straight path of the Lord leading me to intrust myself to doctors and nurses again, fear wants to grip and paralyse me. However, because of Jesus’ living example, I am able to look clearly at the straight path before me and choose to love, serve, trust and in all ways acknowledge God’s amazing work of grace in my life. Because of Jesus, the the truth of his life and love I am able to walk forward in peace!
The path before me is filled with trepidation and fear. There are no guarantee of what my final outcome will be. Even more though, it is surrounded the grace and peace of my Heavenly Father. I know it is his will and for that reason, I find joy and reasons to hope.
Father in Heaven, grant me the strength to follow you like Jesus – no matter where my path leads. No matter the outcome of my surgery. When I am weak and my strength fails, carry me with your grace. I know my life isn’t mine. Use it for your glory – shine through the many, broken cracks in me!