Thursday, July 03, 2014

5:36 AM...

I awoke Tuesday morning to feed Amos and let him outside.  Whilst sitting on the back steps (and basking in the beauty of the back porch floor), it struck me at that very moment, I was neither nauseous nor in pain.  At that very moment, my innards were basically happy.  I thought about the pulled pork tacos I had planned on for my main meal.  I thought about enjoying such tastiness when my innards were basically happy.  And then I stood up and called Amos back inside.

My puppy dog trotted back up the stairs to get back in bed.
I got out the tortilla dough, sour cream, lettuce, white cheddar cheese, and pulled pork.
Yep.  I had my main meal at 5:36 AM.

I find it interesting that, although I went to sleep after eating, I did not have any nausea that day.  In fact, I had a second "meal" (my lunch) of lemon chicken gyros.  That night, I had my regular early morning breakfast of milk and a natural granola bar.  More food than usual and still no nausea.  Hmmm...

The ex-researcher in me wonders if I start eating really early in the day things might go better for me. But that was not my first thought.  My first thought was one that I am almost afraid to admit:  Someone prayed for me after my post yesterday.

Do you believe in prayer?  I mean real, actual prayer?  Do you believe that God answers prayer specifically?  I don't mean that lovey-dovey stuff where folk say, "God always answers prayers but sometimes the answer is silence because He wants cares enough for you to work things out, to endure, to ...." SIGH.  Do you believe that sometimes God answers prayers very specifically and/or very timely?

Do I?  Yes, I do.  But not in the way I used to think.

Does God answer prayer for those who are not believers?  By that I mean, does God answer prayers from believers on behalf of non-believers?  Is that why non-believers have asked me to pray for them over the years?  I don't know.  I mean, God deals with man through Jesus Christ, so how would that sort of prayer work?  But yet God also uses people to accomplish His means ... and if the Old Testament is any guide, you cannot conclude that God works solely through believers.  So, I don't know what to thing about that question.

I cannot say exactly when that became my first thought.  But I have had it many times since Dysautonomia started wreaking havoc on my body (and mind and spirit).  Back when I was on Facebook, I would post moments of misery, a cry in the dark, so to speak.  Sometimes, afterwards, whatever I had mentioned would be better or resolved or merely eased in a way I knew only the Holy Spirit could do so.

The same, too, with my blog.  Sometimes, after the most wretched of posts, I would know that someone had prayed for me.  And I would know that the Holy Spirit was working.  I would know it like I know the sky is blue or the grass GREEN.  Not experience.  Just certitude.

In Africa, life was more ... real ... than I had ever experienced.  I should say the spiritual warfare was.  Of course, back then, I thought spiritual warfare was of the Frank Peretti kind.  You know, once enough folk were praying then the angles would be charged up enough (strong enough) to win the battle.  In his world, the demons would gain the upper hand when folk weren't praying; the angels gained ground when they were.

I found his books exciting, but they weren't what I thought of as prayer.  They weren't what I thought spiritual warfare would be. I mean, I had no idea but his idea was attractive as Narnia was as an idea of heaven ... or life with Christ.  An idea that was nice.  It's nice to think that if you pray hard enough and well enough a host of angels will surround you and drive off all the demons assailing you and yours.

In Africa, we prayed.  We prayed a lot.  We prayed for safety every time we left the compound.  Fervently.  Specifically.  We prayed for the health and well-being of all the missionaries and all the children who attended the school.  We prayed for the staff and patients of the hospital.  We prayed for those in country.  We prayed.  We prayed against the work of the devil we could see all around us ... walking amongst us.  Animism was alive and well.

There, I saw prayer answered.  I've been a praying fool ever since.  Well, a fool who prays.  For others. Until now.  Now, I am afraid to pray.  Would I be mocking God?  If I do not know what it means to believe, to trust God, how can prayer be anything but talking to myself?

The second thought was to thank God.
Why?  Why if you doubt you believe?
Because I'm a good little evangelical and I know the proper verses.

James 1.  SIGH.  Would that it were that chapter was absent from the Bible.  It is just too hard.  It is terrifying, actually.  But it does have this little bit:  Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. (17).

I heard this sermon once.  The pastor, of course gave a whole sermon, but he started off with by saying he didn't need a whole sermon to teach from his text.  He said:  If it is good, it is from God.  Period.  End of story.  Let's all go home.

That stuck with me.  There was a praise song I used to sing about that verse, but the sermon summery really is what rings ... resonates ... in my being.  If it is good, it is from God.

There there is I Thessalonians 5:18.  That most certainly is to be among your collection of Bible verses that form your life.  ... in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Any verse with mention of God's will is especially important if you want to be a good Christian.  I used to be able to even play the praise song about giving thanks on my guitar.

But, to be honest, giving thanks was not something that I did all that frequently.  I was too busy trying to be a "doer" of the Word, too busy praying that Sinner's Prayer in the hopes that I might some day have the great relationship with Jesus everyone else seemed to have ... you know ... the one where you no longer struggle with sin.  I struggled with sin.  All the time.  I even admitted it when my turn came round to share a prayer request, even though doing so made everyone else so very uncomfortable.

In the mainline evangelical world Christians aren't sinners.  They're saints.  I knew I was still a sinner.

Again, I do not know when it was that I started giving thanks as easily as I breathe (not that I actually breathe easily).  I mean, it is not just that remembering is hard, it is that I cannot really pinpoint a change.  I know that I marvel, nearly every day, at the gift bestowed in this house.  Even more so, I am staggered by the gift bestowed in Amos (who is snoring at the moment, which always makes me smile).  I do know that when the surgeon I visited here, the fifth surgeon I had seen about the same problem, said that she could help me, I gave thanks.  I wasn't an abuse victim to her. I wasn't a PTSD mess.  I wasn't an anxious, weeping woman who couldn't handle stress.  I was a patient with a physical problem that had been overlooked by others in her field ... something that actually angered her.  I cried even harder at her words, because I couldn't believe someone was finally listening to me about my body instead of merely thinking of my mind.  But my first thought was to give thanks.

I do so all day long, now.  I give thanks when I remember my medications.  I give thanks when a migraine ends.  I give thanks when the hummingbirds flit about me.  I give thanks for a cool evening breeze.  I give thanks for Emily's GREEN socks that she knit and then repaired for me.  I give thanks for the taste of pulled pork tacos.  I give thanks for the times when I awake without a headache.  I give thanks for a period of sleep without nightmares.  I give thanks for finally figuring out how to hang the lawn chairs in the garage with supplies and tools I have on hand.

I do not, however, give thanks for the fellowship of suffering as instructed to do in the Bible. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I am neither joyous nor thankful when I am writhing on the bathroom floor. I find no joy and do not give thanks when I encounter the blankness spreading through my mind.  I find no joy and do not give thanks when shame overwhelms me.  I find no joy and do not give thanks when words fail me. I do not give thanks when my blood pressure or blood sugar plummets.  I find no joy and do not give thanks when I faint or vomit or cower in terror in the corner of my closet.

Yesterday, I was asked to state where I was born. I could not answer.  I knew the why of where I was born outside of Houston, but the name that I have known and stated and written hundreds of times over the years is gone.  "Where were you born?"  I ... I don't know.

Do you believe in God?   I ... I don't know.
Do you trust in God?  I ... I don't know.
Do you love God?  I ... I don't know.

I do know that anything that is good in this fallen world is a gift from God.  And I give thanks for gifts.  I know that prayer matters and that God answers prayer.  I know that the Word of God is the Truth, is powerful and active, and that hearing it in my ears ... changes me.  I know that faith is a gift, but one that can be lost (how, I do not understand).  I know that the Holy Spirit is the one who works the Word of God in the lives of believers, building and sustaining faith, forgiving and healing them, and sanctifying the new Adam.

Knowing, though, is not believing.

1 comment:

Mary Jack said...

My dear Myrtle, sometimes it's as simple as hearing is believing. I know you struggle with the seeming fickleness of faith--as though it can up and leave. Rather, refusing to hear is refusing to believe. Refusing to hear starves the soul.

If faith is the noun, God's Word is the verb.

I love you, Myrtle, and I pray for you. :) And even if I were to pray for you if you were an unbeliever, God would listen to me for the sake of Christ. He would send His Spirit through His Word and His Servants, because our God not only gives gifts, but he WANTS to give gifts, especially the gifts of life and salvation.