I am sitting in a cafe with leads stuck to my chest and a portable EKG monitor hanging around my neck. My new batch of doctors are running a fresh serious of tests in their effort to better diagnose and treat me. Tomorrow, I will stop doing all the things I usually do to keep from collapsing. The idea is to catch a terrible episode on the monitor. While I look forward to my a day devoid of tomato juice, bad episodes are horribly miserable and it takes days, even a week to fully recover.
Quick detail, I am trying to find a part time job, so I’m not bored and lonely out of my mind. And as I was dreading the approaching weekend, I heard back from a cafe I had two interviews with, that they decided not to hire me. It doesn’t seem as big a deal when I write it, but know I had spent the previous two weeks walking and biking all over our area of town handing out resumes to whoever would take one. The multiple interviews got my hopes up and I really want to be a barista! With this weekend looming, and the recovery week afterward, I desperately wanted to have a job to look forward to.
I didn’t understand why God was slamming a big ‘NO’ in my face. I felt rejected. Not good enough. On top of that, add my uncertainty as to how I will handle working a shift if I do manage to get hired in the first place. And cresting this heap, is the quandary of whether I’ll ever actually stop collapsing and be a normal functioning person again.
I quickly fell into a puddle of self-sympathy.
Flopping on my bed, I pulled up my bible app. Doing so is unusual for me. For some self-deprecating reason I avoid the bible when I’m sad, because, even though it’ll make me feel better in the long run, I know it comes through conviction.
Anyhow, on this occasion that is what happened. I opened the scripture reading plan I am pittering my way through, and what verses slap me in the face??
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” 1Thess 5:15-18
Seriously?! Right now?
Always = all the time. Without ceasing = no breaks. In all circumstances = every single situation.
He sure didn’t leave me a whole lot of wiggle room. I cannot say I turned into a bubbling fountain of happiness, but I asked for joy and for the strength to keep my prayer life going during this struggle, and I fought to say thank you for the pitifully few things I could come up with in my grumpy mood.
And you know what? Joy came in the morning. Like it always does. He picked me back up, put me on my feet, and gave me hope to seize the day.
This metaphor has been growing in my mind, fed by sermons and personal study, and I’d like to share.
When we’re given the gift of salvation, we are blessed with the Holy Spirit too. Having the Holy Spirit living in us brings along some pretty amazing stuff. I like to think of it this way, He gives us a box —it can be a treasure chest if you like, mine is. Inside is His strength, His hope, courage, peace, truth, and joy. We have it with us regardless, but we choose what to do with this box.
We can allow it to dwindle in our minds until it is shoved off to some back corner, dusty and buried. When we do this, we feel weak, lacking, hopeless, and sad. Talk about self-inflicted. Or we can choose to reach for our box every day, whether it be through His word, prayer, or worship. We can decide to open our boxes and claim the strength, hope, peace, and joy within.
My favorite part is that this power is not something innate that we should just believe in ourselves. It’s HIS!
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Acts 1:8
“… that you may be FILLED with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual WISDOM and understanding… May you be STRENGTHENED with all POWER, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and PATIENCE with JOY.” Bits of Colossians 1:9-11 [emphasis added]
That’s the great thing about sanctification, it’s not so much You becoming greater, but God becoming more in you.
To leave off, I want to say two things. First, the whole section above in Colossians is a prayer. Let’s constantly be praying for ourselves and our buddies to have the presence of mind to open our boxes and claim the promises God has given us. Second, the next verse in the Colossians passage says, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of light.” Let’s never stop giving thanks, no matter what’s going on in this crazy life, because we are already perfect in our Father’s eyes and He has our glorious home just waiting for us.