Does this picture of me look like I am alone in the dark? Does it look like I’m having a bad day? Honestly, this picture was taken on a really terrible weekend, when I underwent an intense spiritual and physical attack. It was the third weekend of February. I spent the weekend in the hospital under observation for chest pain. It was my son’s 17th birthday weekend, so this unexpected hospitalization was “extra,” if you know what I mean.
It was also a time when I struggled to feel the closeness of God’s presence. What could that mean for me, when I was going through a major trial and I couldn’t feel God’s presence? I would pray and not hear or feel anything at all. At one point, on my son’s birthday, I was told that the doctors were very certain I was experiencing a pulmonary embolism. No one was with me when they gave me that information and told me that we were going in for a CAT scan. I felt completely alone.
Was God angry with me? I felt a little embarrassed with myself. “Of course I had it wrong. I’m sorry for thinking that my life would go differently than this, Lord. Forgive me for being so oblivious. What have I done to make you upset with me?”
I quickly texted several prayer warriors and asked for prayer. For some reason I had thought I wouldn’t burden them. Now it seemed so serious. I really needed support. (I think it’s so interesting how we are easily deceived into thinking we don’t need other people, when we need them the most!)
My husband came back into the room from his trip down to the dining hall and prayed with me. Our prayers were little and timid. I imagined that perhaps God wanted me to give up and surrender to my mortality. I couldn’t even open my mouth to pray. In that instant, I felt a tiny little rudder of truth change the direction of the ship of my perspective ever so slightly.
“Don’t give up. The enemy wants you to think your life is over. It’s not over. Stand on the truth. Don’t agree with death.”
I interrupted my husband’s prayer. “I need to pray something. Lord, my life is not over. I claim Psalm 118, ‘I will not die, but live, and stand to declare the works of the Lord.’ I know that you want me to feel alone and abandoned, Satan, but we rebuke you, in Jesus’ name. You do not determine my future, God does. I will stand on the truth of the love of God. He decides when I go home to heaven, not you. I may not feel you, God, but I know you are here. I stand on your truth, in Jesus’ name.”
Nothing major changed in my emotional state. I still felt very alone, but I had decided not to surrender in my mind and heart. I put my stake in the ground and I placed my hope in Jesus, not my circumstances.
Test after test came back negative. They had no answers for my condition. My lungs were clear, and my heart was good. I started to think this was really a spiritual harassment.
My children came to see me that night- even my son cancelled his birthday plans to make the trip to the hospital. My two friends Alisha and Becca came to pray with me and sit with me late into the night. Then, Alisha came back the next morning. In reality, I wasn’t alone. But, I still had a lonely “feeling” inside because I was worried that God was upset with me, since I couldn’t “feel” him.
So, when was this picture taken? The next day, the doctors released me and encouraged me to get follow up testing to make sure everything was okay. I was exhausted from being awakened every hour in the middle of the night for all the testing. But, we were scheduled to have a special birthday dinner for our son Ellis with our dear friends at Lightfoot Restaurant – an elegant fine dining experience where my husband regularly performs jazz piano on the weekends.
This birthday dinner felt like a second chance at life- so surreal. My symptoms had all completely left and I was feeling a healthy appetite after not eating for most of 24 hours, due to hospital testing. The room we were sitting in was warm and inviting, and we were surrounded by friends, laughter and celebration. This is what was actually happening…
My husband, also feeling a bit sentimental, grabbed my phone – since my phone is newer than his and has a better camera – and started taking pictures of me while messing with angles and filters. So, this picture doesn’t really capture my mood or the reality I was immersed in.
So, what makes this picture feel lonely and dark? The filter.
Believers in Jesus have a reality that is invisible to the naked eye. We can’t always feel our spiritual reality. It often eludes us. This is why the scriptures say that “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.” It is easier to be compelled by our feelings and our surroundings than by who Jesus is and who he says we are. It says in Ephesians that we are adopted by God, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we are raised in power with Jesus and we are seated with him in heavenly realms far above all rule and power and dominion and authority. Yet, here we sit, in this world, in isolation- in quarantine. We are reminded daily that we are mortal. We are reminded daily of our lack and of the brevity and even futility of our lives on earth.
As everything has been stripped away- all the idols, all the identity, all the busyness, all the relationships- all that is left is time to think about things that are important and to grieve things that perhaps aren’t as important as eternity, but still feel like such a huge loss in their absence. What are we filtering our thoughts through? Are we choosing, as my husband did with this filter, to remove all the color and the light? Are we living with our eyes fixed on Jesus and on eternity or are we fixated on the darkness that is overtaking us?
This Friday, on our Zoom Bible study call, we will be examining the scriptures to see our true reality in Jesus Christ! Are you living in the power of your position in Christ or in the discouragement of this fallen world? Come be encouraged with us!
Join us for worship, prayer, adoration and Bible study at 10 AM on Zoom as we study Revealed in Ephesians the Mystery of Who I Am in Christ.
For information on the Revealed Ministries Bible Study, you can access the study on Kindle or order it via Amazon. If you can’t afford to purchase the study, message me and I will buy you the Kindle version. (In fact, as of April 16th 2020, Amazon seems to be running a sale!)
You can join us on a laptop (I highly recommend, so that you can see the screen sharing of scripture and text.) You can also join via phone, if you don’t have access to a laptop. We will worship at the beginning, take testimonies and prayer requests, then get into the study. Here is the information on the study:
When you enter, you will be automatically muted. If you want to share, contribute or pray, unmute!
Topic: Revealed in Ephesians Bible Study and Prayer Time
Time: April 17 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every week on Fri, until May 8, 2020, 7 occurrence(s)
Apr 17, 2020 10:00 AM
Apr 24, 2020 10:00 AM
May 1, 2020 10:00 AM
May 8, 2020 10:00 AM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 223 728 350
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,223728350# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,223728350# US (New York)
Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
Meeting ID: 223 728 350
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/aeddgPg3CO