Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Conversation with God

One of the highlights of my ministry with The Voice of the Martyrs to this point was the three fall semesters (2002-2005) when I taught at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Only my added responsibilities at The Voice of the Martyrs in Canada (assuming the role of CEO this January) and my health compelled me to give it up last year. Who knows but that I might pick it up again some day (if they will have me back).

I felt honoured to get to know some of the students who took my courses during those three years quite well. One student that stands out to me is a young woman named Vanessa Fry. Hard working, intense, highly intelligent and teachable, I would hire her in a minute if Canadian immigration wouldn't make it so hard. When not working on her classes, she would work at UPS to make ends meet. I respected her dedication to her studies, though I worried about her workload and how tired she was at times. But she never failed to give me anything short of excellence.

I recently learned that Vanessa was injured on the job on February 5 when a 45 lb. box fell on her head. As she explained it to me, the box hit her right temple area and slammed the other side of her head against a metal support bar. In an email she sent to me today, she wrote:

"I now have post-concussion syndrome which means I am dizzy and my equilibrium is off, plus I have a splitting headache most of the time. In addition, I have had strange symptoms which involve my face and body. My face muscles sag and draw up, mostly on the right side of my face (on the side I got hit on) and sometimes my eyes are affected and I can't open them. On Tuesday of this week, most of my body muscles started to tremor and twitch, probably from erratic nerve signals. Then on Wednesday I had temporary paralysis in my whole body and difficulty breathing, which resulted in an ambulance ride to the ER (I had been twice already, once when it happened and another time when we were alarmed about my facial symptoms). The neurologist came in and tested me for a damaged occipital nerve in the right side of my head. It was positive, so he did a block on my nerve with Novocain. It took away some of the pains and seemed to stop most of the muscle tremors. The most logical explanation for the temporary paralysis on Wednesday was that my potassium level had tested lower than normal that night and the doctor said that if I had been experiencing any diarrhea or vomiting (which I had) a sudden drop in my potassium level could have been the reason. So, I am back home now and feeling much better but still very much not like my old self.

School is my main concern right now, because I am a senior and am set to graduate in May. But I am not really worried because I know God will work out all the details."

The reason I am mentioning this, is because early last week, Vanessa sent me and a few others a segment from her journal from the week before. I was so touched by what she wrote, that I asked if I could share it with others. However, I was unaware of what had happened to her and wanted to put the journal entry in context.. As you will read, Vanessa (like myself with my fight with cancer) is trying to apply lessons that she has learned from the Persecuted Church to her own situation that neither takes away from the reality of what they are suffering or elevating her own suffering to the level of martyrdom but simply affirms the same God is with His people to sustain them, regardless of their situation. I hope you will be as blessed by Vanessa's words as I was. And as proud of her.

"A Conversation with God" by Vanessa Fry (February 14, 2007)

What are you trying to teach me God? I know there is a reason for all this but right now my faith is not too strong. It's hard to say "God is good and kind and always right" when you can't walk on your own or have control over your own face and your head feels like it's about to explode. I want to be like the men and women in Hebrews 11 who followed Your agenda by complete faith. Like Noah who had faith despite unknown factors, Abraham who had faith despite impossibilities, and Moses and Joseph who had faith despite unpleasant circumstances.

It's easy to think that I don't deserve this trial because I deserve all good things in life not bad. But the truth is I don't deserve this trial because it is a gift from You and it is a sign of Your mercy that You care enough about me to teach me and mold me when I deserve nothing but eternal punishment. Help me to view this though God-centered vision. Have I been blind to Your agenda? Am I on the wrong path, out of Your Will?

I let go, I surrender all to You. All my plans, dreams for the future. Even if it means not graduating from college, even if it means the internship in Florida, even if it means North Korea. If I am not in Your will, if I am not doing everything for You, living every aspect of my life for You, I do not want to do it. When blinding pain shoots through my head, when my face sags and my eyes become uncontrollable, teach me and use me. When I stumble and other people have to catch me, God use it for Your glory somehow.

I weighed myself in the balance of Your righteousness and found myself wanting. Because I've talked about trials and afflictions and how we are supposed to view them and walk through them but now that I am in one what do I do? I whine, fret, complain, and have no faith. I worry about all my future plans and whether all my physical abilities will come back. Now You're reminding me that You hold my future and You know all the plans you have for me and that my physical and mental abilities are a gift from You and You have the right to choose how to use them. I have no rights; no say so in my life-it is You, only You. It is hard to write for the pain-God, please let this pain be for Your glory-show me how to display glory through pain. It has been granted-gifted-an honor shown to the Christian to suffer for Your sake. The Philippians were suffering under persecution in their time. But lots of people suffer and are persecuted-what is the difference? The difference is why we suffer and how we suffer-we suffer for Your sake and in a way that glorifies You and completes Your suffering by manifesting You to an unbelieving world. It is then an undeserved honor for me to suffer if I do it for Your sake by giving You glory and recognition through it. Let it be God, that I can count my trial as Paul did his imprisonment in Philippians 1:13 "that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel"

I also do not deserve Your everlasting love-that love that Romans 8:31-39 proves nothing can separate me from. What a great and glorious thought. That if You are for me in this trial, who can be against me? Can the ridicule and mockery I have feared be against me? Can even my stupid pride which You have displayed to me today be against me? No, because Christ is for me. You have shown me that even through a concussion and all of its aftereffects that I through you Jesus Christ-am more than a conqueror. More-because a conqueror just defeats the enemy-but I have more-I can triumph and glory in Christ. Why-because I know that nothing can ever separate me from You. Therefore, I will trust in You, I will follow You, I will let all of my assumptions and false dreams go, and I will live for You.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

That is indeed a wonderful testimony to the unchanging faithfulness of God.

I graduated with Vanessa. Please let her know she is in my prayers.