Embracing the Life You’ve Been Given

Today, I am linking up with Tuesday at Ten, the weekly blog link-up where you have six days to use the prompt word or phrase as a part of your writing. This week’s prompt word is EMBRACE.

As I was reading my #First5 devotional this morning, God spoke to my heart. The question was: “What harm has the Lord delivered you from?”  Immediately, I saw one of the most difficult events in my life in a different light. In 1976, we were hit by a drunk driver, and our eighteen month old daughter Teresa was killed. This morning God spoke to my heart, “But I spared your life.” Yes He did, but this had never been my focus.

Since the accident, my life has been different. Not only did we lose our precious daughter, I also left the hospital in a wheelchair. I was later able to use a walker, and for a window of time even to walk without support. But from that time, my life was different. My health began a downward spiral, to the point where I now have over a dozen chronic illnesses that are directly or indirectly related to the accident. This is the life God is asking me to embrace. And since my Word of the Year is joy, to embrace with joy.

So how is this possible? It requires letting go of the past and turning my focus on the future. Or as Philippians 3:13b-14 says:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

There are some positive things about living with chronic illness. First, I have lots of free time to spend with the Lord. My daily quiet time is one of the delights of my life, as I spend unrushed time in God’s presence, in prayer and God’s Word. This has helped me grow spiritually, as I seek to be more than a hearer – or reader – of Scripture. God’s Word is gradually becoming the guidebook by which I live, as I lean daily on God’s grace. As James 1:22-25 says, this leads to being blessed.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

And 2 Corinthians 4:16b-18 makes it clear that God values inward renewal above what is going on outwardly. I can identify with Paul’s words in this passage:

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Yes, outwardly my body seems to be “wasting away.”  My chronic illnesses could be considered “a thorn in the flesh.” Like Paul did concerning his thorn, I have pleaded with the Lord to take this thorn away from me. God’s answer, for now at least, has been similar to His answer to the apostle in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Finally, Scripture makes it clear that life on earth involves warfare and suffering. Jesus has already defeated the enemy,  but the full effects of His victory won’t be experienced until we go to be with Him in the new heaven and the new earth. Therefore, suffering of some type is usually a part of life on this fallen planet. As it says in 1 Peter 5:8-10,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Father, I am choosing to embrace the life You have given me with joy. These are just a few of the blessings You have revealed to me in this particular wilderness. So today, I embrace the life You have given me in love, and the writing that is a part of Your purpose for me.  Thank You for opening my eyes to the truth that you spared my life, so that Your purpose for me would be fulfilled. Help me to seek Your will daily, and to walk in the fulness of what You have for me. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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