At this point in time, I have to hit pause on recounting the details of what I went through earlier this year. I don’t know when I will continue that, but what’s more important than the details is the journey that I’ve been through since then, and the fact that I will be going under the knife again this week to reverse one of the things that I’ve been living with for the last six months.
This journey has not been pretty to my human eye. It has often felt like I am waging an all-out war for my faith and my relationship with God. I’m fighting myself, the enemy, lies, physical limitations, emotional limitations, God himself . . . It’s been so very heavy and painful, but I can’t help but think that God is looking at my struggle and seeing beauty in it, because that’s what He does. He takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful, and I’ve definitely given Him a lot to work with.
It’s been really challenging to see some of my old posts about worship, spiritual warfare, bravery, hope, etc. etc. etc. pop up in my memory feed on Facebook. I read some of those posts and think, “You were so naive.”
I still believe everything I’ve written about, it’s just so much easier to write those things when you’re not staring physical and spiritual death in the face, trying to outrun it. Looking back, I wish someone else had written those words and sent them to me because I feel like I’ve done a terrible job of living what I’ve spoken out.
And yet, here I go again.
A friend sent me a song yesterday called, “Take Courage” from one of Bethel’s latest projects. I had actually heard it for the first time earlier in the week and had cried my way through it. I listened to it again and felt the familiar ache in my chest as my heart begged for the Lord to make the words of the song true in my life.
It wasn’t until later in the evening when the title of the song came back to me. Take Courage. I was sitting in a worship night at our church and that word, ‘take’ kept coming back to me.
There are some gifts that the Holy Spirit chooses to give individuals, and not to others. Some of us operate in prohpecy, tongues, teaching, etc. You might have one, and I might have another. But there are numerous verses in the Bible that encourage us to take courage. Jesus says it repeatedly as he heals people, and in Deuteronomy, it’s coupled with, “Be strong.”
Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you – Deut 31:6 (MSG)
I was challenged last night that strength and courage are not things that we have to wait for as we do for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All of the translations that I looked at this morning agreed. Be. Take. Be. Take. Be. Be. Be.
These charges must mean that strength and courage are already inside of me, silent, and as far away as they seem, they are already available. Quite possibly buried in fear, but they are there.
I hesitate to say that I’m going to change the tune I’ve been walking to, and I’m going to be strong and take courage, because once again it’s easier for me to say it on this end of surgery. I can’t promise you that if things go badly this week, I will be so quick to tout these words again. I can’t promise that my heart will not go back into an ugly place.
But as I’m staring at another life-altering surgery, fists clenched tightly and panic coiling up in my chest, I’m certainly going to do whatever I can to conjure up the strength that is inside of me because of Jesus, and take the courage that He placed in me, knowing that He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Even if it’s just reciting the words over and over. Even if my hands shake and my knees give out. Even if I have to take the anxiety pill that’s waiting for me for the day of surgery. Even if I have to come back to this five minutes after writing it, with snot and tears dripping down my face (ahem) to remind myself. And then five minutes after that.
This is hard. Some moments it feels impossible. But it’s still true:
I am weak, but He is strong in me. He just is. It’s not a gift I have to receive, it’s who He was when He stepped into my life. Courage is activated in my life because I said yes to Him.
Yes, Jesus. I trust you. Period. The End.