“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalms 51:1-2, ESV)
Have you ever had your pastor say something and you didn’t know whether to say, “Amen!” or “Ouch!”? Today’s post is about a recent experience that I had recently with the Holy Spirit that played just like that.
I sat reclined on the Emergency Room gurney, clad in the ever-so-stylish gown with the buttons in the back. The television was off, and for a time I avoided the temptation to surf the channels—a pastime of the days when we had cable TV. The smell of saline was fresh in my nostrils as my IV had just been started. Blood had been drawn, and I was awaiting the results, which would determine how many other tests might be required.
Despite my familiarity with the insides of a hospital, I was still a little nervous. I had landed, less than a month earlier, in this same ER with a kidney stone. Kidney stones Chronic migraine. Broken bones. Surgeries for this and that. I’ve had my share of health issues, and I’m no stranger to pain.
I’ve confessed here before that when life happens, and it happens to me, my instinctive reaction is feeling sorry for myself. Wondering why this is happening. Haven’t I suffered enough? I have learned through the years, however, to recognize this and put a stop to it as quickly as I can. After all, there are people enduring much greater suffering than I ever have or may ever have.
I was feeling the victim. The day before I had to miss work with a migraine, and well before the day was finished I had another painful health crisis.
Nervously I picked up my phone to check my emails and other notifications. I needed a distraction from my discomfort. My daily first-stop in emails is usually my Verse-of-the-Day from YouVersion, so I tapped the familiar header. The words of Psalm 51:1-2 appeared on my screen. They were not unfamiliar to me. I’d read them dozens of times, at least. But this time I clearly heard the Holy Spirit ask me a question.
Are you more concerned with your health or your holiness?
It was a rhetorical question.
The familiar story of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” shot through my mind. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9, ESV).
Admittedly, I am a bit slower on the pickup than Paul. But there is no record that Paul ever asked a fourth time. He apparently came to realize what I am beginning to grasp—that God is far less concerned with the preservation of our bodies than with the preservation of our souls.
That is not to say, of course, that God isn’t concerned with our bodies. He is! And He still heals today! However, His priority throughout scripture has always been the restoration of fellowship between Himself and a lost humanity.
The moment itself lasted only a few seconds, but the impact is continuing. Hopefully, it will last until the time my earthly life is over. I never felt, for a second, that I was being rebuked. I felt, rather, that I was being gently directed to my best self.
Pain will always exist while we call this planet home. It is inevitable. But we should never allow physical things to distract us from our singular purpose of bringing glory to God with our lives.
I want to be healthy and pain-free, yes. But I much prefer a life that is pleasing to Jesus.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week! If you have been encouraged by Skipping Stones, please take time to like, subscribe and share.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels