Friday, July 20, 2012

What God will do when you have faith

I have been through a lot in the past few weeks. Through it all, I have been held close to my Creator. I have been granted a measure of peace that was never mine to this depth before. I have been shown the loving hand of God as he uses my ugly disease to create beautiful relationships. I have been showered with gifts (both physical and intangible) from the least expected places. I am blessed.
  I am also recovering from 2 surgeries and dealing with very real consequences from those procedures. In addition, I still face radiation treatment. Not to mention that the knowledge that cancer has been in my body will hover forever in the back of my mind. It will tint decisions for my entire household. It will make previously ignored pains and aches something to think twice about. It has made me "grow up" in a very real way.
  Even so, my God is good. Every new thing I face, I am given the strength for it. I am more sober, but I am not without joy. I am more aware of each moment, but I do not fear those moments passing away. I am able to love more deeply...and to realize the value of expressing that love. Most days (as long as I am not exhausted) I have more patience. I pray that will stay, even when my strength grows as I recover. I listen more. Really listen. I can hear heartaches better, and my hugs hold more real compassion. All of these personal gifts I thank my savior for. He has truly been refining me. It is not a pleasant process, but I am so thankful He found me ready to pass through the fire!
  Part of a refiner's job is to remove impurities. A precious metal should not just be liquid ready to be reformed when it comes out, it should have had something removed that was less than absolutely perfect.

  This part is not easy for me...forgive me if I stumble a bit.

  In a previous post, I mentioned that I might lose something dear to me. And in one after that, I mentioned that my voice has changed. Now my desire is to be perfectly open and blunt about what was sacrificed in that second surgery. My voice has not just changed. It is almost gone. When I talk, I am recognizable...if you can hear me. My speech is low in volume and low in tone. I cannot reach the higher pitch people usually reserve for pets and babies. Since I usually speak in a lower tone anyway, volume is the most notable loss when you first speak to me. This is annoying, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I am incredibly greatful that my voice is not entirely different from what my husband and children are used to hearing, though they do notice a difference.
  What is entirely gone is my singing voice. For me, this is huge. If you don't know me, if this blog has been passed on to you, you have no way of knowing...this is huge. My whole identity has been summed up in my voice and my hair: "Do you know Rachel?" "Who?" "You know, the girl in choir with the long hair." "Oh, the soprano? Yeah, I know who you mean..." From singing in school choirs to specials in front of the church, it's been part of my entire life. Then I met Brad. My wonderful husband, formed to be perfect for me. And one of those perfections was that he sang! Played guitar, wrote his own I listened to him write, I would hear the harmony that would fill out his song. Before we were even married, I was singing with him. For thirteen years, we literally made music together.
  Now, that part of us is over. And it's sad. And we've cried a bit...maybe more than a bit. There is a feeling of lostness floating around that area of my heart.
  I'm not telling you so you will feel sorry for me, though I assume you will. I want you to know that I have lost something. In case you have lost something you will know it's ok to be sad. What do we do in these times colored by a "little" death?
  We have faith. Faith that God knows what He is doing, even if we have no idea. But I've heard that word applied in other ways too, and it frustrates me. I have to share, lest you fall into this mindset.
  Lots of people know by now that I've lost my voice. And I get so many responses...a very common one is, "Well, God can heal just have to have faith."  Or, "I just know God will restore your voice; you have so much faith!"
  I do have faith. I could not endure what has happened if it weren't for my faith. I have faith in my Creator, that He can heal me. I have faith in my Savior, that He has a plan for me. I have faith in my heavenly Father, that He will protect me from what I cannot handle. But my faith does not obligate God to do anything.
  You see, we've got it backward. We think of those who have faith as having this key to bending God's ear (and will) to their desires. But that's not what the Bible says about faith. Here is a brief overview from Hebrews 11 (ESV):

  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God...
  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain...
  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death...
  By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household...
  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
  By faith he went to live in the land of promise...
  By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive...
  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac...
  By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
  By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
  By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents...
  By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...
  By faith he left Egypt...
  By faith he kept the Passover...
  By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land...
  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
  By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies...
  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

  Do you see the pattern? God sets a plan in motion, and calls His faithful to execute that plan. Abraham didn't offer up Isaac just because he had faith that God would raise his son from the dead. He was told to offer Isaac, and the faith he had in the Almighty gave him the strength to obey. Noah didn't build an ark because he had faith that God would save him from a flood. God told him he would send a flood, and Noah's faith pushed him to build the ark in the midst of persecution and ridicule from everyone around him.
  God will not heal my voice simply because I have faith that He can. Make no mistake, I do have faith that my God can heal me completely! I have been too well blessed in the past month alone to doubt Him one bit. Rather, my faith is giving me the strength to walk the path He has chosen for me.
  I don't know why this thing that has been so dear to me is being asked for. But, unlike Abraham, I do not expect God to restore it to me. You see, Abraham had been told his descendents would be innumerable. Isaac was the only son, and if God were to keep His own promise, Isaac would have to be restored to Abraham. I have no such promise. God has never once in my life told me He was going to do great things with my voice. But He has been preparing me. I didn't know for what, I just knew I needed to be ready.
  And I am. My faith has given me all that I need...and I find that what I need is not complete healing, but rather complete dependence on the wisdom of my heavenly Father.
  If you find yourself without something you have held dear, have faith, my friend! Faith that God has a plan, that He is clearing the way for something greater, that He knows your hurts and counts your tears...that He will give you the strength (and even moments of pure joy) to survive this trial. This is faith. Knowing that you don't have all the answers, but He does, and choosing to trust Him when you cannot see the road.

  I have faith...and because of it I offer my voice as a sacrifice to His perfect will. One day He will make me perfect, and I will sing before His throne. But while I wait here on earth, my faith eases my loss.


  1. I have lost dearly....but we have a plaque in our house that says "Belief is not knowing God can, it's knowing God will". I know all that God has taken or allowed to be taken from us in this life but I know not only CAN God restore it all but He WILL restore it's just a matter of this side of heaven or the other. I hear your heart in this and appreciate your transparency more than you know. But take refuge in knowing that without a doubt...God WILL restore your voice. We are promised that we will be singing praises to Him in heaven. You WILL be part of that heavenly choir! It's just a matter of geography...whether He chooses to restore it this side of heaven first ;) You still remind me of JJ Heler's song Painted Red lyrics "If I could not say a word My life would speak of love I don't deserve Hope means holding on to you Grace means you're holding me too" Love you, sweet sister, and continuing to hold you in my prayers. Loving to watch how the Lord is growing you~

  2. Maggie, on that day when we first praise God perfectly, I hope I am close enough to hold your hand or see your face. As I wrote the last paragraph of this blog, you were in my mind, smiling your most beautiful smile, though there were tears in your eyes. I heard you say (as I have heard many times in real life), "I know God will heal my son. We're just not sure if it will be here on earth or in heaven." The example you have been to me as you have lived through so many trials these past years is serving me well now. Thank you for your obedience and unwavering faith.