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Unscathed? Scathed? Jesus Is There!

12 Jun

Some people wonder how they ever made it through childhood! They had more cuts, stitches, bumps, bruises, and broken bones than they had years of life and can even give a detailed account of most spills and thrills, laughing at the insanity of the things they “used” to do!

I can’t relate since I am not one of those people! I came through childhood fairly unscathed except for two “accidents”. I got stitches in my forehead from slipping on our wood floor and diving headfirst into the VERY sharp, pointed corner of a wall vent! That’s what I get for wanting to be the first one to the car to go get a rare Dairy Queen treat! (As if being the first to the car was going to get me ice cream any faster! Geez!)

The other injury came when I put my finger in a cement mixer! Yes! That IS as stupid as it gets, but I did it anyway. I was amazed by the gear mechanism and the next thing I knew, my finger was IN the gear. Pulling it out wasn’t wise either as I nearly tore my finger off before a cousin figured out we needed to reverse the direction of the mixer to set me free.

Outside of those two injuries, I made it through my elementary and middle school years physically fit! (though we all know how those junior high years are brutal emotionally and psychologically!) In high school I played every sport possible; softball, volleyball, tennis, badminton (yes, it is a sport), floor hockey, ice skating, track (long distance running, discus, and shot put), basketball, and even tried some cross-country skiing!  It didn’t matter what it was, if there was activity involved I was there!

Even at home my life was filled with activity; Frisbee, tag, dodge ball, jarts, croquet, hiking, swimming, football, soccer, kickball, biking, and you name it! Through it all, injuries were limited to minor strains, sprains, and shin splints! I’m not bragging, just thankful! And don’t worry – I’ll get to my point soon!

I knew Jesus my entire life and was keenly aware of His protection coming through my childhood and teen years physically unscathed! I continued playing volleyball and basketball collegiately and still – no major injuries. After college and into married life I just kept going without much change in activity; coaching, biking, volleyball, softball, even during my pregnancies. It definitely got tougher with age, but still, every time I rolled an ankle or strained a muscle, I was able to get right back at it the next day!

Then the unthinkable happened; we were in a serious car accident! I walked away from it thinking all was okay and a hospital trip proved I was just shaken up and would be fine! After a week or so of recuperation, it did seem all was well and I had confidence my body would do what it had always done, heal!

But not long after that, I realized something was very wrong because normal activity was difficult and I felt my body declining in strength, less and less able to do anything without pain. About seven months after the accident, I woke up one morning with intense shooting pain through my neck, shoulders, back, and head; the beginning of a five-year journey through the perils of pain and perplexity!

At some point during those years I started asking God to bring me home to Him! I couldn’t take it any longer! Along with the physical pain, the emotional and psychological pain was taking its toll as doctors had no answers and I watched my family get on with life without me! Sure, I was with them physically but emotionally drained by trying to hide the intense pain while waiting for my body to do its’ thing! The goal each day was to make it through, one hour at a time! Overriding it all was my faith in Jesus as Healer, believing His Word even though my body rebelled!

One day as I collapsed on my bed crying I said, “Lord, either take me home or heal me! I miss dancing with You and jumping for joy in Your presence. I want to do it again but can’t. This is no way to live! If You heal me I will worship you with everything I have every chance I get!” Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Well, since you’re reading this, you know He healed me! And I have surely made every effort to honor my vow to Him. It hasn’t been pain-free though! There were years when I suffered in agony after worship because my body wasn’t strong and wouldn’t stay in alignment. But no matter what I felt, I remembered my vow to the Lord that day, and kept moving!

As the years go by, let me say, jumping for joy in the Lord’s presence, dancing and twirling with Him, running in freedom as I celebrate life in Him, well… it just isn’t as easy anymore! One night as I was praising the Lord, dancing and singing, jumping up and down in joy, I realized I was exhausted and could barely get enough air in to breathe! I stopped, stooped over, and said, “Lord, I don’t know how much longer I can keep my end of the bargain! This is getting hard! I’m getting old and out of shape. I want to keep worshipping you with my whole body, but if I can’t do it at 50 years old what’s it going to look like when I’m 80 or 90.”

At that very moment God said, “There’s a remedy for that!” I knew what He meant! Get in shape and stay in shape! It isn’t that I am totally out of shape or unhealthy! I just haven’t made the extra effort to make sure I am in the shape I need to be in to worship Him with all my might! I walk, jog, or bike for a while, then have a day or two of not feeling up to par, so then I take a break. The problem is I don’t come “off” break and get back into disciplining my body to be strong and flexible!

The Lord unveiled how we tend to accept getting old as an excuse for not dancing, singing, shouting, twirling, and jumping for joy in His presence! I could either excuse myself from worship using age as an excuse or include myself in worship into old age by losing this excuse and take responsibility now! Clearly, if I want to worship Him when I am older (I do), I have to prepare and remedy the situation by training now; not waiting until I am 80 or 90 to be there!

It is true our bodies get old and start wearing down! My teenage daughter explained to me my wrinkles are caused by a lack of collagen! Great! My grandson likes to point out and touch all my moles! Awkward! My husband likes to tease me about the loose skin on what used to be my well-defined triceps! Weak! Older people just grin at me and say, “Right now you think you will be able to keep dancing and moving when you’re our age but you will see. It isn’t going to happen.” Ouch! Why oh why Lord must we get old?

Overall, I think I’m finally getting used to the idea there are certain things I can’t control like loose skin, menopause, wrinkles, and a slower metabolism. But God says there are plenty of things I can control and one of them is keeping this body in as good of shape as it can be at any age. If I want to stay in shape to praise Him, I need to stay in shape to praise Him! Pretty simple if you ask me!

We can all be encouraged by God’s Word! Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”

Doctors told me I would only deteriorate over the years because of damage to my spine from the accident. But God had the first and last Word, giving me life and hope! Proverbs 3:21-26 My son, let them not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”  

These were promises for me! But I had to believe them and apply them! When I was in my darkest times, I memorized them, spoke them out loud when in pain (I said them A LOT), when I couldn’t walk , couldn’t sleep, or when I feared the next bout of torture that would surely come, especially when I stepped out in faith and praised the Lord with my body! And the battle didn’t end there!

I went through a bout with Lyme’s disease accompanied with fever zapping me of all bodily strength. The pain which accompanied it was enough to make me cry out again, “Lord, take me home, please!” I went to church and could barely stand much less dance. I remember thinking, “No Satan, you can’t stop me” even though I felt stopped dead in my tracks. As helpless as I was physically, my spirit grieved even more. So strong is my passion to praise God with all my strength, my heart literally hurts when I can’t.

But it is this very passion that compels me to give Him my all!  When you make a vow to God at the lowest point in life, it burns in your spirit at all points in life!  When I am at a high point, the exhilaration is out of this world! And when I am at a low point, His promises remind me “This too shall pass!”

Friends, whether you have made it through life unscathed or scathed, today you can be safe and sound in Jesus! I see myself praising God with all my strength until the day I go home to be with Him. I hope you can too! And when we see these truths as realities by faith, we can also believe them by faith! You’ve made it this far! Let’s go even farther! Whatever you’ve been through, wherever you’ve been, know that Jesus is for you! He has a remedy for every ailment! Just take Him at His Word and love Him with everything you have!

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