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June 06, 2007

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de

Re; The ‘letting go’ factor

"...Jesus was asking her to let go of her hopes and dreams of becoming someone strong; someone who she thought people might look up to and respect. Jesus wanted to bring her to a place of accepting who He had made her to be..."

Even though this was posted a long time ago,this is a timely word for me ...I'm glad I found it:)

Jesus has asked me the same. He did so by talking to me about my name; Deborah/Dvora "bee" and strangly enough, through Seinfeld's 'Bee Movie". The intro to the movie shows these words.

"According to all known laws of aviation
there is no way that a bee should be able to fly.

It's wings are too small to get it's fat little body off the ground.

The bee, of course, flies anyway.

Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible"

Jesus is so kind.
But I wept.
I really thought that one day I should have it all together, and be someone. But Iam someone.
He gave me my name for a reason.
I'm in process of grieving the lesser dream for my life and embracing His.
The first was about me, I think I'm going to like His better:)

donelda  Seymour

Thank you for that reminder! I really appreciated this article.

I often think we do not have enough truthful teaching on the whole aspect of suffering. Often when it comes, people are really hurt because they or those that visit with them have a theology that says it should not happen, and if it does come, either they've sinned, or there is something wrong with them, or they just lack faith, or they are being punished, and they come to think God has abandoned them. Like Job's friends- we can all get it so very wrong.

I have often wondered what Jesus meant when he said we would share in his suffering. Is there a place of fellowship with God in suffering that has a quality unlike others, because it is sharing in His sufferings and comforting His heart? I think maybe there is. Sometimes we carry ours, sometimes we carry others and sometimes we carry God's. Hopefully in all of it we end up coming to Him and fellowshipping with Him in the midst of it.

Yet we like to think fellowship with God is all about nice warm fuzzies and pastoral pictures, with peace and love and joy, and all the other good stuff. But I think there are times when fellowshiping with God means we feel His heart, and we encounter a depth of compassion, and pain that actually tears us up a bit. If God is a God of compassion, I don't know how it could be otherwise.

When He looks upon this earth and sees some of the horrible things people go through, I would be very surprised if all we felt when we come into His presence is the "nice" feelings. He is indeed a God who indentifies with our sufferings. Why so often do we get uncomfortable when people in church, or at a prayer meeting weep and weep? Why do we jump to the conclusion that they must be really unbalanced, or going through a hard time, or worse that they are being inappropriate and therefore they should be stopped? What if they are in that momment feeling the heart of God and fellowshipping with Him in His sufferings. What if in doing that, they are comforting God's heart? I for one would not want to shut that down if it were the Holy Spirit working in a deep place of compassion and intercession. It may be hard too understand, a mystery even, and it may be uncomfortable, or difficult to know how to respond, but it is a very real and dare I say "sacred" part of what it means to fellowship with God.

I think our culture has an even harder time with this whole area of suffering than most others do. We as North Americans seem to be somewhat obsessed with image. We have been taught that it is important to show yourself as being independant, strong, powerul, stoic, and to look good. We are taught to make our own way in the world. We don't do well with weakness. We don't like pain, and we certainly don't like to be uncomfortable for too long. Things that hurt need to be over with quickly. That's why we don't grieve well as a society-we expect people to "get over it" in a matter of weeks or days. We give more time for broken bones than we do broken hearts.

It seems as well that we think too much emotion can be threatening. Although you may express emotions, you should not express them too much. At all times, one must be in control. We want to quickly move through the difficult things, or to numb them out, or to deny them, or to hide from them, or even more so, to hide the fact that they are happening in our lives. Heaven forbid that anyone should see what we are really dealing with, so we hide "the difficult things" from the eyes of others.

We also like to keep the whole idea of death at bay. We don't wash or bury our own, we have people who take care of those sorts of things and we do not really need to touch death. With our emphasis on the remedies of Science, and our complete trust in modern medicine, we manage to think almost everything has a pill or some sort of cure, so that we can take care of whatever ailes us. Death or illness in fact should not happen. Now maybe there is a remnant of something true there, in that we were made for eternity where there is not death or suffering, but somehow we have managed to twist that into a disdain for anything that smacks of imperfection.

We have an extreem emphasis on looking young and beautiful no matter what our real age. In fact, no one is supposed to look their real age, they are supposed to look air brushed and beautiful. Looking any other way, is now considered "sin". All of this in a way, is a part of the keeping of death far from us. We don't like anything that is messy, uncomfortable or that smacks of suffering or death. When was the last time you saw a T.V. show about suffering? What are the images that haunt our media? Mainly the bold and the beautiful. We often are sheltered from seeing a lot of what goes on in the world.

I don't think this is just "out there in the world", either for I have encountered this attitude in many of our church cultures as well. We like things to look good. We don't know how to deal wtih the messy side of life, or with people who are suffering or going through hard times. We give platitudes, or distance ourselves or sometimes sadly, even "punish" them for not having enough faith. We may get involved when things look hopeful, but can easily turn our backs when things get hard. We don't do dificult well.

Let's face it, It's easy to be there for one another and to have faith when things look good and are promising. It's easy when there is an immediate healing, but what happens when people are not healed and they have a long journey of suffering? Not so easy. Then we are challenged on what it means to really love one another. We are then called to a whole other level. We are often at that point, faced with how truly selfish we can be.

We have no other choice but to look to our God in that moment. He is the only one who is always faithful. When we call on Him to help us and to give what we need to walk along the difficult road, He answers us. The fact that we can be faithful despite our uncomfortableness, our fears, our selfishness, or our crisis of faith, is amazing. Only God can help us to walk through the storms of life.

Suffering is not an easy road to walk, regardless of whether you are the sufferer or the one walking alongside the sufferer. I have seen many people leave the faith because of their suffering, or sadly because of the inappropriate way their suffering was handled by the church. Yet again, I have aslo seen people who have walked it's path and through it, come into an even richer, and deeper faith. Suffering is mysterious, and we don't always understand why one person turns to God and another turns his back on God, in the midst of it. The Chinese word for crisis someone once told me, holds the word opportunity-I think that is interesting and very true.

I really admire the people that work in this whole are of Hospice. I think that it is a vocation that really invites people to walk on holy ground. The workers are precious people who are providing care at a time when it really means a lot. They are supporting people during a very important stage of their journey. When my mother was in a hospital for a number or years, I was very thankful for one particular nurse who cared for her faithfully and joyously throughout her illness. She brought such an amazing presence of love, and when I look back I see that it was contagious. When she smiled, even the patients who never smiled, smiled. Love does that.

This nurse brought the tenderness of Jesus in all she did, whether it was wiping my mothers brow, or holding her hands, it was all done with great tenderness and not just expediency. Even her smile and her cheerful good moring, while she opened the curtains in the room and let in the light of the day, made all the difference in the world. She had a heart for caring for the dying.

Where some attendants talked over my Mom as if she were not there, this nurse more than anyone else, managed to treat my Mom with dignity and respect. She was a nurse who had a strong sense of God's presence, and I could see that she lived the scripture "whatever you do to the least of these you do unto me". When we minister to others that are suffering or in need, we minister to Him. That is a real mystery.

As I saw my Mom laying there in her hospital bed, I was struck by a revelation of God's love. She had had a major storke at an early age and now she could not even feed herself or do anything but move some muscles on one side of her face and barely raise a hand on one side. Some might think she was of no further use. Some might think they should just pull the plug, in fact one nurse suggested I do that. I was challenged to see things differently. I encounterd God as I looked at her and felt Him say that even if she never lifted a hand again, she was loved by Him and her life had value. I really saw that God does not measure out His love based on our performance or what we look like or what we can DO in this world. He loves us, and values each one of us, because that is His nature and that is what He is made of-Love. And He asks us to be like Him.

The nurse looking after my Mother said that she was not sure who ministered to whoom, because she felt that my Mom's simple smile at her when she came into the room, made her day. That hit me. Simple, small things became so much more important than any big thing. I began to see that so many of the things we occupy our lives with don't really in the long run, matter all that much. I realized that this life is not about anything else but how well we love. That's it.

It took walking through a place of suffering for me to see that. My Mom was in the hospital for three long years, and it was not easy. Many of my extended family refused to come to the hospital as they did not want to see her or remember her that way. It was a very difficult time but I am grateful for it for I encountered a fellowship with God that went deep and I touched something that I can't even fully articulate.

When I got the call that she was not doing well, I had a choice as to whether I would go and be with her, or wait until she died. I think I made the better choice. I chose to look death in the face. I had the challenge and the privaledge of being by her bedside when she passed away. Two dear friends from my house group stayed most of the night with me.

We sang to her, held her hand, prayed and just sat. We took turns napping, and spelled each other off holding her hand. She was dying with her lungs filling up with fluid, a death that usually has someone gasping for air, but I had prayed that God would help her die peacefully, without fear, and her breathing changed to a slow peaceful pace.

Nurses came and went throughout the night, and they each commented on how unusual it was for her to be breathing as peacefully as she was. They also said they had never felt such a presence of peace before, as they came in that room. I could not see them, but I felt as if there were angels present. I know I certainly felt God's presence, it was thick in that place. Despite the pain of saying goodbye, there was a strange almost tangilbe blanket of comfort that enveloped me.

That night, my friends showed me a part of God's faithfulness as they stayed with me as I watched my Mom die. I was so thankful for their companionship and for the lovely care they showed for both my mother and myself. That night, I got to see my Mom get ushered into glory. As my friend and I were on either side of her bed, she breathed her last breath, and slipped away in peace. We both looked at one another and commented on how we had an urge to raise our voices in worship. We knew at that moment, she was dancing with Jesus and all sorrow and suffering had passed away.

How strange to encounter such holiness in a place of dying, but maybe then again, it's not so strange. Sometimes the places we encounter God the most are when it is dark and difficult, yet in those places the contrast of the brightness of the light is profound. We see things more clearly. I will never forget that night, and I must say I am still learning lessons from it. I am grateful for my friends and the fact that they did not turn from suffering, but instead chose to walk with me through the midst of it. Each of us as a result encountered God, and were given a gift, and I am sure that that gift has eternal value.

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