February 24, 2011

Lessons and How We Learn Them

I am having a really rough day, and it just started!  I woke up last night with an aching back and hip.  I was so tired that I didn't even get up to take any Advil.  I just tried to go back to sleep.  At about 6 a.m., I got up to use the bathroom, and then laid down with a pillow under my hip.  This helped, and I slept until 8:40 when my Mom called to check in on us.

I am sitting at my computer again, having my coffee, and thinking "what in the world did I do to cause such pain in my back?"  I have been off of work since Monday Evening, and I am dreading the fact that I have to work tonight.  I am hoping a good hot shower and some Advil Liquid Gels will help (they usually do).  As I sit here, I know that part of the problem is that I spent the better part of yesterday on the computer.  I was working on my resume all day long, and even though I took frequent breaks, it is the only thing I did all day long.  This morning I said the to Lord, "Oh no -- I can't work in a job where I sit all day either!"

I have been saying to Him that I cannot work a job where I stand all day, and that sitting would be better.  Now, after sitting all day, I see that this type of work isn't going to do it for me.  So what is left for me to do?  I am feeling pretty disabled right now.  I mean, my hip is burning, and all I am doing is sitting still?

I prayed about this situation and this is the word that came back to me:  lessons learned.  I think this is true, because this whole experience has been one big lesson in not running out ahead of the Lord to do what I think is best, and instead trusting and waiting for Him to bring me what He knows is best.  You see, I pressed the Lord to work at Macy's.  I begged Him even.  I so wanted to work, to get out of the house, to do anything (and keep my family from pressuring me about finding work), that I said "I will even do Macy's."  Well, it didn't take me long to figure out that Macy's and me were going to be a poor fit.  I don't mind the work, and I don't mind the people I work with -- I simply cannot do the work because of the pain it causes to my back and hip.  I have been there now almost seven months, and the pain, which used to subside on my days off, now just lingers with me.  It never goes away, unless I take an Advil (and then it returns as soon as the medication wears off).  It is arthritis, I am certain, and as long as there is inflamation in there -- any use -- will simply cause it to remain inflamed.

This means that unless I stop working and do nothing for a prolonged period of time, get proper exercise (not overdoing it), and rest -- the pain is not going to go away EVER.  I don't know if I can continue on like this, really -- it is getting me down.  I have lived with chronic back pain for years, but it has been more neck and mid-back.  This low back (kidney area) and hip is a killer because I cannot sit, lay down, or generally find a comfortable position to rest in.  I am sunk!

As I thought about lessons learned, I said to the Lord, "Lord, I don't like this.  I don't like the fact that the closer I get to you, to know you, the more severe the lessons are to learn.  It shouldn't be this way."  I mean really, shouldn't we get it, get it good, so that the lessons we learn are less intensive and less difficult?  It would make sense to me, and it would be a blessing to know that the closer you draw to God, the more Grace you receive to cover the errors and faults?  Ha!  I think it is actually the other way around.  In fact, I have talked with the Lord about this very point, and the matter is that we receive the MOST GRACE when we are farthest away from Him.  This is when we need it most.  When we turn and come back towards Him, His Grace covers us while we learn from Him, get to know Him, etc. This is why as Christian's we must give a lot of Grace to our newest brothers and sisters in Christ.  They haven't learned yet, so they make mistakes.  They say things, do things, act certain ways -- and they don't know how to do things differently.  It is not our job to help them do this (we can encourage, of course), but this is a work of the Holy Spirit of God.  We are to be Gracious towards them while they are learning how to be part of God's family.

Then there are those of us, the older siblings who have come up through the same system, and now find ourselves being strongly disciplined.  We should know better.  We should not need to receive the strong hand of the Lord, but often, we get lazy, disrespectful, and at times downright willful with God.  Therefore, God treats us like the older brother or sister and reminds us that our witness is such that we need to stop doing certain things, and start doing what we know is right (according to His Word).  We get more discipline because we already KNOW these things.  This is what the Word tells us -- and Paul reminds us about all the time.  He didn't want to be so strong with the church, but he had to do it because they should have know better.

I think this is my situation exactly.  I have become lazy, treated the Lord's Word to me casually, and as a result, I am getting some discipline.  Just saying, "I am sorry, Lord" is not enough.  Yes, He forgives me, but He expects me to stop doing the THING.  I cannot get off with being forgiven -- I must repent, and that means I must turn around, stop doing whatever it is I am doing, and really prove that I am serious about doing right.  I am not talking legalism, but there is a certain sense of lawfulness.  We don't have to prove to the Lord because He knows our weaknesses -- yet if we truly repent, we must do what we say.  James says that we must be hearers and doers of the Word.  It is not my will nor my stubborn effort that will accomplish this task, it is God's Grace, but I must be truly repentant and then prove myself true.  I must keep my word to the Lord, and not go back on it.

Oh, how many times have I changed my mind?  How many times have I not kept my word?  The Lord has asked me before to promise Him that I would do certain things.  I have forgotten my promises.  I have forgotten what I said I would do.  Now that word is coming back to me, and I am feeling the heat of His displeasure.  I don't like it.  I don't like it one bit, but this is "par for the course" so to speak.  It is the thing that happens when you say you will do something, and the Lord takes you at your word.  I am flawed, I am a failure, and I know it (He knows it too).  I need His Grace today because I recognize what I have done, but I don't know how to fix the situation, how to turn things around, and how to make this whole mess better.

Dear Lord,

I have goofed mightily and I am sitting here in agony today.  I need your Grace, and I need to understand what it is that I have done (I know in general terms).  I have put myself in a place where I don't want to be, and now I am trying hard to figure it all out.  Please help me today to understand.  I ask that you forgive my arrogance and foolishness, and my words -- I turn and repent today -- and seek your Mercy and Grace.  In Jesus' Name I pray this today, Amen.


Anonymous said...


I think of you and of your pain.
I really wish I could explain
the way the doctor heals the wound,
‘cause, Jesus! You are being pruned!

Carol Hepburn said...

Exactly! I feel it, and what makes it so hard is that I know this is what is being done to me now. I understand that it is a GOOD thing, but 'my oh my' how does it hurt!

Anonymous said...

Pain and tribulations are also a test. If we keep up faith in God in suffering we will be qualified.

But may The good Lord shorten the aching!