Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
It seems like time stands still every time I feel my heart miss a beat. Over the past three years I have been struggling with a health concern known as Atrial Fibrillation.
“A-fib” is an irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat too fast. It is not life-threatening but is a frustration and does limit my ability to function from time to time. I have an attack at least once or twice a month. I take medication that helps my heart return to normal sinus rhythm usually within five hours or so.
At times I catch myself becoming obsessed with my heart rhythm. The attacks are unpredictable and can come at some of the most awkward moments like when I am just getting up to preach.
I hate limitations! I feel such an overwhelming sense of God’s call on my life and I want to move into it with reckless abandon. But I find myself pulling back in fear that I will go through yet another episode of discomfort as my heart flips into an irregular rhythm.
Over the past several months I have been attempting to hear God’s voice more clearly in my personal journey. So after one of my recent heart episodes, I cried out to God for wisdom. I felt God speaking clearly and powerfully into my situation with this message:
“Do you hear me in your suffering? I am speaking. Weakness is so difficult to deal with. Yet suffering and weakness are amazing teachers. Take the long view of your suffering. It will teach you dependence and patience. The very struggle you are facing is a gift from me. I want more of you, and in moments of pain, discomfort and confusion you are prone to want to draw closer to me.
You will be healed and you will move on but I want you to sit in the desperation until it becomes your friend. Do not run or shun this pain. Lean into it with hope and patience. I am a heart specialist and I want a good and healthy rhythm within your physical heart as well as your spiritual one. Your physical heart and your spiritual heart are both prone to irregularities. Healing must come in both spheres of your life.
I am enough. Keep trusting and hold fast. Learn a new pace in this time of struggle.”
Listening to these words was not easy, especially the challenge to “sit in the desperation until it becomes my friend.” I hate feeling helpless but it may just be the place where God can do his most effective work.
You see, I want my soul formation to come without struggle and without pain. But God sees things very differently. The apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away his limitation but instead God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9a). And Paul’s response was, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9b).
In other words, Paul was able to “sit in the desperation until it became his friend.” It is the place of limitation where we really hear the voice of God and see the power of God. This month I am scheduled for a specialized procedure that is designed to cure A-fib. I am confident that God will heal me through this treatment. But the lessons I am learning through my limitations are powerful. And even though one limitation may be removed, there are always others that will come my way.
The powerful truth is, God is sufficient and he is able to use every limitation as divine leverage in his mission to transform our lives into the image of his Son. So, make friends with the desperation!
“Christ’s resurrection will enable us to meet the hardest places in life and endure its bitterest trials.” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website