CONTROL

When tough times come do you run from God or do you stay and discover how you could grow as a person in those times?
The desire to run is so real though, especially when you feel broken.  When we initially heard the news that my dad had cancer, I found it so difficult to pray.  I knew it was the right thing to do but I just couldn’t do it.  The pain of what I was experiencing was just too much.  For me to pray meant that I needed to speak those words out.  I needed to speak about those things with God.  But I just couldn’t.  Instead I got people around me to pray.  To pray on my behalf, to say the things I was too hurt to say.  As I did that, the burden lightened but deep down I knew I needed to pray about this myself too.  It was like I was avoiding a conversation that needed to happen.  But still the pain of it stopped me.

One night I sat with my parents and we prayed together before they went off to bed.  ‘You pray’ said mum.  ‘Me pray?’  I thought.  This was the very thing I had been trying to avoid.  Caving inside I went for it.  You know when you’ve got to have that conversation you really don’t want to have and your heart starts beating really fast because you know you’ve got to say some things you’re going to find difficult to say?  That was where I was at.  That night I asked God to heal my dad.  I asked Him to strengthen him and us from the inside out.  I prayed God could do what only He could do – a miracle!  As I spoke to God a heaviness lifted off me.  The pain wasn’t mine to carry.  As I went to bed that night I felt relief, relief that I could talk to someone stronger than myself who could carry the weight of what was upon us.

That heaviness though, very sneakily took residence in my heart again so quickly.  Some days I would try to carry it all by myself, it would seem easier that way.  Or I would get so busy with life that I didn’t realise it was building inside me.  When I say heaviness I mean the weight of my emotions and the constant traffic jam of thoughts and questions.   Seeing dad in discomfort post chemotherapy can be horrible.   I wish I could take away the pain, I wish he didn’t have to suffer, I try to make sense of it all and then I go back and forth in conversations in my head.  I just wish it could all be different.

One week at church we sang the words to this song…..

I lift my hands to Heaven

Here my heart surrendered

I tell myself again

You are Lord of All

And though the seas are raging

You will speak and tame them

In you I find my rest

You are in control

As we sang that song the first time I stood, not singing along but just looking at the words, feeling so full of this heaviness.  I couldn’t bear to say those words to God, so I quickly went off to the toilets as I felt tears well up in my eyes and I became aware that I wasn’t going to be able to hold the tears back.  In that cubicle I cried my eyes out.  I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t give control to God.  I wanted control.  I wanted to make everything ok.  I wanted to do something so my dad would get better.  I wanted to make everything ok for my mum.  But the truth was I couldn’t.  I couldn’t take control.  I sobbed until I got to the point when I was ready to hand it over.  When you hand something over you literally surrender it.  When someone surrenders themselves to the police they lift their hands up as a sign of surrender.  When we were kids and we used to playfight, we used to have to shout ‘ I surrender!!’  to indicate we wanted to give up and we wanted the pain to stop.  There and then in that toilet cubicle I chose to surrender.  I lifted up my hands to God and asked him to ‘TAKE IT.’  From that day on I needed to make surrendering to God a daily thing, not just when it got too much or wait for it to get too much.  I had to surrender my pain, emotions, fragility, and brokenness to then rest in His promises to shine through me even on the darkest days.  Sounds easy but it’s crazy how real the resistance was in me to hand it over.  Probably because I like to take control, I like to fix things.  Only thing is there’s some things in life that are not for us to fix…….

 

The Day after Diagnosis Day

Just before I opened my eyes I wished it was all a dream.  I hoped the last 24 hours hadn’t happened.  Despite my best efforts to wish it all away, the harsh reality was that Diagnosis Day  did happen and I needed to face that.  My dad had cancer.  Sadness was what I felt but I knew it was a feeling that I needed to give to God.  I knew God could exchange that sadness for hope and He could lighten my heavy heart.  I’d experienced it before so I knew I could trust Him.  Whilst talking to Mel and unloading my feelings, he said something that made me think.  ‘Sadness is a place we all visit but you don’t have to live there.’ That’s so true I thought. If I lived there all it would do is depress me further and immobilize me.  I needed to live in the hope that God gives me.  So that morning I decided I was going to call my dad, hold back the tears and speak life and hope into this situation.  Before we talked I texted him the verse from Isaiah 43 again

‘ hey dad this is a promise from God you need to hold on to….

1 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

As me and dad spoke he told me something that totally amazed me.  He told me that the night before’ diagnosis day’  he couldn’t sleep. So he got up and read his bible. He said he literally just opened his bible and it fell onto the story in Daniel about the three men in the fiery furnace.  A king had ordered that these men be thrown into a fire because they refused to worship him or his gods .  The King was so angry with these men that he ordered that the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than usual!!!  That was HOT!!!!  The three men amazingly and miraculously walked around in the fire and were unharmed, no single burn on their bodies.  They walked out of the fire completely untouched by it all.

Here was my dad totally unaware that the next day he’d be facing a fire of his own, reading a story about three men who were miraculously protected by their God.

Some might call that a coincidence.  I don’t.  Could it be that God, the Beginning and the End, the one who knows everything before it even happens, loved my dad so much that He would want to prepare him for what lay ahead?  Could it be that He wanted to speak with him, and reassure him that no flames could touch him?  And then for me to go and say the same words to him today!!! Wow well that just blew me away.

When you call on God and you do it in truth, He really is so near to us.  So near that you can hear Him.  So near that He’ll repeat himself.  So near that He’ll pour His strength into us to make us strong from the inside out.