Monday, November 17, 2008

Falling Headlong

I love a good motorcycle ride, probably because it gives me a false sense of my own awesomeness. Every time Dan & I get on a Hog (that's right, I'm down with the lingo) I can't help but think, "Hey you nerdy Dodge drivers. I'm on a Harley. Be scared of me. Maybe I have a tattoo and belong to a biker gang, you just don't know. I might even throw ball bearings into your wood-veneered mini van." And so it goes until we hit a small bump and I cry for my mother.

One particular evening several years ago my husband and I rode over The Skyway Bridge (pictured here) on the Harley. The view from the top was spectacular - clear sky, deep blue water sparkling in the sunlight. On the Harley it was so much easier to take it all in - the wind on my face, the smell of the salt air, the rush of the 190 ft. ascent to the top of the bridge. The sense of freedom was unparalleled. Yet later that day, when it was time to return from our excursion, the bridge was not so welcoming. The heavy darkness of night, mingled with the raw, lashing wind and fatigue of the day, were hateful companions. As we started the bridge's ascent I was terrified.The gusts were so intense I literally huddled behind my husband to avoid their razored edge. Dan felt their lashing, too. When he yelled, "DO. NOT. MOVE." I instantly froze. We both knew the winds of the bridge were enough to lay down the bike and seriously injure us both.

It was a reality check. How could it be that something I loved so much had turned into something so dangerous? All the freedom was replaced with serious danger, that if ignored, could have killed us. The change of perspective was staggering.

Our walk with Christ can be like this. On some occasions He chooses to protect us from the harsh slaps of life. In His infinite wisdom He knows which battles we simply can't survive and so He provides a way of escape. We enjoy life unaware of the pain we've been spared. We live free.

But there are other times. Days, weeks, or months pocked by pain, disappointment, loss, loneliness, doubt, fatigue. It plays out many different ways...

The child you love walks a prodigal's path.
You were aiming for a promotion but got a pink slip instead.
There's a miscarriage.
You live in loneliness is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Test results come back from the doctor. It's worse than you imagined.
God is silent when the rest of the world is screaming.

None of us is a stranger to injury. In those times we lay in bed at night, tears soaking a pillow beneath us as we look up at the blank ceiling. Wishing He would usher us away from our reality our lips mouth the word, "Why?" The stabbing from the enemy is all too real, but for some reason He deems us strong enough to stand and fight. And we may never know why, which makes it even harder to swallow.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of suffering - and trust me, I've had my share - there's something to be learned. In my life, when pain has reared it's ugly head I have so often prayed, "Jesus, just help me get through this." Over the years I must have prayed that countless times.

But then I stopped.

In a suffering moment, when I was dealing with a chronic pain diagnosis and some depression, truth zapped me like lightening from the sky. By praying, "God, just get me through this..." I was limiting Him. In essence I was saying, "All I want from you today Lord is just enough to get by."

I had to ask myself, "Is that really all I want from God?"

Or in times of suffering is it possible to take advantage of God's closeness and fall head-long into Him? Maybe when He wasn't giving me peace, He gives me Himself instead, thicker and richer and almost tangible. Maybe He isn't far away at all, even if the answers to my questions seemed unreachable.

Am I suggesting a change of perspective is a cure all? That all the loneliness or pain will disappear if we ignore it? No, not at all. What I am saying is, at least for me, I can throw myself into my pain and make it my god or I can run headlong into Jesus Christ and saturate myself in Him, banking on the fact that He'll teach me in my circumstance, even though He may not take it away.

The reality is, with Dan and I riding the Harley, we could have wrecked the bike for thousands of reasons when we rode that day. There didn't have to be a bridge involved, but there was and not ascending the bridge wasn't an option. To make it to the other side alive I had to swallow my fear, sit tight in spite of it, and ride it out. We had no choice but to throw ourselves into it. Would I do it again? Probably not. But I did it once and now I have a story to tell. I think that's worth something.

The circumstances I find myself in every day - my grandma's illness, dealing with physical pain or fatigue, my mom rejecting Christ - are painful, to varying degrees. But for now, those circumstances will not change, they are what they are. But if I can fall headlong into Him again and again, I can cry and know there's comfort. I can ache and know He's healing, though maybe not physically. I know that I know Him and rest in Him, even if it means ascending another dark, lashing hill.

And one more thing: I can write these words to you with a clear conscious and a firm resolve. And a heart full of praise.

But that's me. What about you? Can you throw yourself into Him today? Let's tell each other how we're going to do this.

OK, I'll go first. Today I'm going to read 27 out loud. And I'm going to serve Christ by serving my son, instead of myself. Whether I feel like it or not.

What are you going to do today to throw yourself into Him? Maybe this will give you some ideas as you prepare to leave your comment below...

23 comments:

Candace Jean July 16 said...

First of all, I cry every time I hear that song - out of emotion, out of angst, out of who-knows-what but it always brings my brain back to a season in my life where there were many more tears than today, so they just keep coming like they haven't had their quota yet. I'm in the middle of Bridges "Trusting God Even When Life Hurts" - the same premise without the Harley analogy. You really should tag-team a book with him. I couldn't wait to read your post - I knew it would be a whopper. Thank you!

vanilla said...

Reading your intro, I was prepared to make some smart comment about how silly you would feel riding with me on the 49cc scooter. You know, Hog and all. Good for you.

But your real point brought tears to my eyes as I reflected on the times that falling into Him was the only way to deal with the pain, knowing that He is always there.

Thank you. We're glad you are back.

jennyleigh said...

Thanks for sharing, Stacy. Your post really hit home with me today.

Beth said...

I think one of the biggest lies we believe as Christians is that we are victims. Victims of other's wrongs toward us, victims of circumstance, victims of ourself...it's so easy to throw one big pity party about the pain and hurt in our lives and never look outside ourselves.

"I can throw myself into my pain and make it my god or I can run headlong into Jesus Christ and saturate myself in Him, banking on the fact that He'll teach me in my circumstance, even though He may not take it away."

You put the solution to self-pity so perfectly into words. AMEN!! So glad you're back!!

fb said...

What a great post. I have a lot of family in my home for the next couple of weeks. So I will pour myself into them and when it all gets to much(probably when they all leave and it is much to quiet) - I will remember who holds me fast. What a great feeling to absolutely fall into the arms of Christ. I wish I was willing to do that sooner than I usually do.

Marni said...

Today I take my 8 year old in for her yearly oncology appointment to make sure the cancer hasn't returned. I have no choice but to throw my fears at God just like I did when the diagnosis came at us and WRECKED the content, happy, organized life we had. I woke up this morning and said, "Whatever you put in front of us today Lord, I know you've gone before us. And I'll praise you regardless."

I fell in love with the song you posted while my precious one was in treatment because satan coming after my family via my youngest child---well, there are no words. But God taught me how to praise and love him despite the darkness that comes. I'm a better person, better follower, because of it. And that song reduces me to grateful sobs everytime I hear and sing it.

Still praying for you as you deal with your pain. And I've missed you, so I'm glad you're posting again.

Stacy from Louisville said...

Marni-

Today I will throw myself into praying for you and your family.

Beth said...

Welcome back to blogging. You were missed.

And thank you for that amazing post. What a way to start up again. Thank you so much for what you've written today.

Helen said...

Hi, I just wanted to explain Sherri's little joke. On November 4 Sherri got called out on SCL by an anonymous commentor who blasted her for self promotion. Jon did a post on what Christians will post on their blogs after the election, and Sherri asked that people come over to her blog because she had a questionaire (very thought provoking, or at least thought organizing, you know). Since then, a bunch of us have been at her site, and we kid around about Shameless Self Promotion. She really wasn't accusing you. I think she was kind of inviting you to join us. She has a pinch of sarcasm in her posts and comments sometimes, too, so I really think you would like her (not that a popular blogger such as yourself even knows who I am anyway...sniffle sniffle sniffle)
Good post. And your grandma is in my prayers.

kimberlyburton said...

Thanks! That was timely today:)

Lanelle said...

Today?
I will put another foot forward in this walk of faith.

Thank you - I love your questioning... I want so much more than to make it through... but even that is so, incredibly, hard.

And in agreement with so many, this song breaks me. For the simple fact that it is true, and it causes me to speak the words I know I must.

Ashley said...

I am currently dealing with trying to get pregnant and having a hard time with it. It seems everyone around is expecting except me. It is time for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and realize that He has a plan that is greater than my own. Thank you for this post today and welcome back!

eastern ky pastor said...

Stacy - I've been concerned for you and am pleased that you are back

Beth - well said - I think I remember something about being more than conquerors.

For me, it was a John 6 moment, when Jesus asked His disciples, "Are you going to leave me too?" I was depressed and losing the battle with my childhood. And in that whisper of a moment, I barely murmurerd back, "Where would I go. You have the words of eternal life." From that moment on I realized it didn't matter if I were a victim. I made my decision. I will never leave, never back down, never be beaten back. Jesus is all I need.

Alison said...

Thanks as always Stacy!

God has been trying to teach me that it's ok for it to be just Him and me, as I've always had another person in my life to be between us (my sister, my husband, etc.) It's just been this past week that I realized that I really WILL be ok if it's just the two of us. How else will I be able to truly fall headlong into Him? It doesn't work when there is another person in the picture. When you try to dive into people instead of God, you will always hit the concrete that is their humanity. Maybe that's why I had to lose my person for the time being. With God's help, I now know I can go diving anytime I need it!

Sherri said...

Stacy,
I'm so glad Helen explained my comment on SCL- especially after seeing that your Grandmaother has been very ill.

I AM TRULY SORRY!
(Open mouth-insert foot)

I did a post on "SHameless self promotion" as Helen said, it has become a great joke for all of us and I forget that not many people would know what I'm referring to.

Again. Please forgive my ignorance.

BTW,
Love your post today.

I'm on a journey to stretch my self and riding on the back of a Harley on a highway (no tall bridges yet) is on my to do list. It scares me to death!

Loved how you tied it all together.
This helped me today.

Thank you.

katdish said...

Wow. That post was just (I know I use this word too much) awesome! Thanks for that refreshing spiritual boost! Really, really great.

On a lighter note, Do you know the difference between a Harley Davidson and a Hoover vacuum?

(Have you heard this one?)

Where the dirtbag sits!

(Totally kidding, of course.)

Stacy from Louisville said...

Sherri -
No harm no foul girl!

Beth said...

eastern ky pastor-

I did have the more than conquerors verse in my head as I wrote that. I almost added it, but didn't. Thanks for adding it anyway.

Address...Romans 8:37

Romans 8 has been following me around lately. :)

Rob said...

Stacy,

I've been following you for a while and I love your humor. However, your post today just kicked me in the gut....and I mean that as the highest compliment.

Thanks for sharing your heart...

Lindsay Spengler said...

Hey Stacy!

First of all, LOVE YOUR BLOG. Second, you hit this one out of the park. I too, have a chronic pain disease but left untreated it can reek havoic on your body. Thank you, I know my spelling is awful) :) I ended up on a ventalator for 8 months, unable to eat for five years, unable to even sit up in bed. Finally, I am past that. But I must say, God has used this time in my life way beyond my wildest dreams. During this time however, I was at a loss to see what God was doing at this time in my life. But not only was it not wasted, though it all my relationship with him grew in awesome ways. He brought people into my life that I cannot imagine living without. I could go on for hours but I will stop there. One thing that got me thought these tough times was Christian music. One of my favorites is called "Hold On" by David Doss Band. Here is the link on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6GZJS2A9G0

God Bless!

Love your sister in Christ,

Lindsay

Marie said...

Wow, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

eastern ky pastor said...

beth - don't you just love when Scripture starts stalking you!

Marni said...

Ashley, I'm praying for you!