Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lessons from an Uninvited Guest

An uninvited guest has taken up residence this week. No matter what approach I have tried to get him out the door, he has stubbornly refused to leave. And I am left feeling like a “sick” person who can't really handle much, wishing I still had the “healthy” body of the last few months which felt mostly free from limitations. This uninvited guest has dragged me back to those dreaded days of the past, when I constantly had to consider how I could quietly exit out the back door from situations that felt like too much for me, with both a fear of making commitments and a guilt of letting people down, along with an overwhelming desire to simply draw my head and all appendages into my turtle's shell because that's all I had the strength to do. 

This uninvited guest called Migraine has caused me to think a lot about limitations this week.

Several years ago when I was going through an especially rough time with migraines, I wrote about Chronic Pain. And about the bricks of truths I was trying to collect from the rubble of my life, like the workmen I could see saving bricks from the destruction of buildings going on behind our apartment.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed…because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 14a, 16)

Through His power resting on us, we are renewed. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. This power does not come from us, cannot come from us. It can only come from Him. And can only come when we are needy. Broken. Spent. Struck down.

In Reaching for the Invisible God, Philip Yancey writes, “If…I perceive God as working from below, under the surface, calling out to us through each weakness and limitation, I open the possibility of redemption for the very thing I resent most about my life.”

“When we are hurting, it doesn’t matter how much we know about doctrine or theology. What we really need to know is Jesus. To walk with him. Talk to him. Crawl into his lap and let him hold us for a while. Perhaps we’ll never say, “Jesus is all I need” until he is all we have. At that moment, he will prove to be all we need and more.” (Max Lucado)

“We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy. But we may be missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be at this moment and not in another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him—here where it seems He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all.” (Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness)

This is The Real Life.
It is here. And it is now. In this moment.
When we want to hope, but are afraid to hope.
When we just want to give up and close our hearts off to any future pain.
When we are so weary and life feels so hard.
When it seems that God is absent. In the Unanswered.
God calls us—here— to Trust Deeply in Him.
Because if faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all.

“There is an intimate relationship between joy and hope. While optimism makes us live as if someday soon things will go better for us, hope frees us from the need to predict the future and allows us to live in the present, with the deep trust that God will never leave us alone but will fulfill the deepest desires of our heart.

Joy in this perspective is the fruit of hope. When I trust deeply that today God is truly with me and holds me safe in a divine embrace, guiding every one of my steps, I can let go of my anxious need to know how tomorrow will look, or what will happen next month or next year. I can be fully where I am and pay attention to the many signs of God’s love within and around me.” (Henri Nouwen, Here and Now)

“Might this thing I long to be different be the actual crucible on which God chooses to shape my soul into something of beauty that perhaps only He sees? Will I let God transform me in this?” (Paula Rinehart)

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Soft clay. Moldable. Shapeable. Conforming to the intentions of the potter and the unique design in His mind. No resistance to His masterful hands

Have your way with me, O Lord. I am surrendered to you.

(Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the topic of Limits)


  1. I'm on day 2 of a migraine myself. I can relate and agree in so many ways. Thanks for this.

    1. I feel for you, Katie! And it's so much harder with little kids. Hope you're in a place where you have backup help. I'd appreciate your prayers for me too. Jordan and I are running a half marathon tomorrow. I'm hoping to be migraine-free and able to finish. Thanks!

  2. I love the "uninvited guest" phrase! I've dealt with migraines for years and I so related to this! I LOVE the Elisabeth Elliot quote though and that's one I really want to remember. What a truth she expressed at the end of that quote: "If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all." I've struggled with that over and over as a migraine would inhibit me from doing whatever "work" I had planned to be a part of at that time. More often I sit and wallow in my pain and question why the Father would allow me to be removed for a time to just suffer. But, if my faith doesn't work in those low moments, how can it work in other times? What a great challenge for me, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing part of your story, Valerie. I really love Elisabeth Elliot's writing. Someone else who has really encouraged me in the area of suffering is Amy Carmichael. May God help us to trust Him in the dark and in the pain that we would just as soon avoid.

  3. Thank you, Jodie, for your comment on my limits post. :) God is so good to help those who know Him to see the wisdom and find peace in the very limitations that others resent, because they know Him not!

    1. I think not being resentful, Julie, is so key! And one of the biggest temptations when faced with limitations that can feel like prison bars sometimes. Seeking His wisdom and peace along with you.

  4. oh, I'm so sorry that you are dealing with migraines! that is rough. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Melissa.



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