A year ago, I heard a man speaking about lying flat for many months, on the floor, on his stomach, in order for his back to heal. He was my favorite speaker at the prestigious gathering. He shared his journey of all the things he had done while lying still and off the merry-go-round of active life. He started his healing journey by watching encouraging, positive movies, then moved onto darker fair, and ended his movie-watching with toxic, twisted stuff from the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. He is a pastor.
After his watching, he realized he had kind of come to the end of the creative banquet he had explored; I guess, it was kind of like he started with green, leafy vegetables and ended with double fudge sundays with dozens of shots of tequila. (Just like in the movies.) I appreciated his honesty as he shared his journey. (We are talking thousands of hours of lying still!) I’ve wandered into strange lands as far as entertainment goes, so his story resonated with me.
God has His own timetable in our stories; it’s seemingly slower than the western cultures’ clocks, and God was still there at the end of the “banquet.” I think God was there, waiting for the time together with the pastor, with a tender heart. I mean that. I don’t believe for a minute that God is as distant, aloof or unkind, as we often make Him out to be in our minds. He created you and me, for heaven’s sakes. The pastor found God to be quite full of grace, kindness, empathy, truth, beauty and goodness.
How? The pastor decided to read the whole Bible – or listen to it, I think. He had that kind of time on “break.” However, as I have seen in my own healing journey, he wasn’t really on “break.” He was in a considerably deeper season of pondering life, sorting things out, catching his spiritual breath. He stopped relying on his own strength while grabbing onto God’s heart. (He had no strength to rely on, and that actually put him in an interesting, less self-reliant “I am maybe, almost like God” sort of place.) He spent time praying – talking with the God of tremendous heart. Thankfulness for this God grew in his heart.
He found the God of the Bible to be courageous, full of grace, kind, empathetic, truthful, beautifully glorious, fierce, reasonable, generous, overwhelming and good. The pastor got to know God in new, more nuanced ways, and more importantly, he realized his heart was transforming, having spent the time together. His soul was better.
After many, many months, the pastor was able to get off the floor, and jump back into busy western life. And, you know what? He was just thankful he was standing. He started his talk off with, “I am thankful I am standing here before you. ” And, he meant it. I sensed his authenticity.
In my cancer journey, I’m learning to take nothing for granted. If I actually stand, walk with my neuropathy-pained feet, change my sheets, bathe, eat, brush my teeth, make ANY art, connect with a friend on FaceTime, chat with a daughter, play Go Fish with Calvin, walk to the mailbox, then I am thankful. And I mean it much more than before this season. And, I’ve been listening, more and more, to a man reading the Bible. Little by little, I am knowing my God better. My heart will never be the same.
PS. My grandson Calvin, age 5, often tells me he is almost as strong as his daddy. (Or almost as smart, tall, wealthy – he has $17 dollars, etc.) He lifts objects in my apartment to prove his claims – from pillows to books to chairs. I marvel at Calvin’s bravado, but, then I chuckle at myself. Don’t I show that same or deeper, bravado towards God? Saying, and even believing, “I’m almost as strong, smart, tall, wealthy…. as God.” Calvin is in good company.