I think everyone can agree – it’s no fun being sick. I was sick for two weeks in February with a high fever and body aches due to a bacterial sinus infection. I felt miserable physically and what was even more frustrating for me – I had to cancel a few ministry activities. First, I had to cancel a trip to the Isthmus where Nils and I were going to do a marriage seminar at a Covenant church. But, what I really did not want to miss out on was the Hechos 29 (see here for past blog entry about this) retreat in Mexico City, where I was to facilitate three workshops and more importantly spend time with and encourage young leaders in the Mexican Covenant Church. I was praying, “please God just let me get better in time for the retreat”. Well, God didn’t answer my prayer as I had hoped. I was feeling much better than before, but the truth was I was still pretty weak, and in the end, we decided it was better I stay home and continue to rest.
This was very hard for me to accept! I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be at the retreat, until it was taken away from me. I did not react well. I cried. I got angry at God and others! I didn’t treat my family very well. And, all the while, I tried to figure out why God would have allowed this, and more reluctantly I tried to believe maybe there was something I needed to learn through all of this.
The truth is I didn’t want to learn the lesson. I was too upset. But, as the days passed and I expressed my anger to God, I started to sense that there was some change that needed to take place in me. I realized that I often put my worth and my value in my ministry, in the things that I do, or accomplish, when God isn’t looking for what I can do for Him, but for how I can be with Him. I realized that sometimes I say yes to too many things and then what ends of losing out are my relationships, first with God, then with my family.
Through my sickness, I got back in touch with the longing of my heart is to be close to God, to know Him and be known by Him, and my desire to have more time to just play and be with my kids. The lyrics of the Graham Kendrick song, Knowing you, Jesus, come to mind…
Oh, to know the power of your Risen Life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing…
I shared with a friend about my sickness, struggle through it and what I was learning. She helped me see the connection of what I was experiencing and the Lenten season – that maybe God was calling me to take more time to be with Him and my family this Lent. Suddenly I saw that my schedule during Lent was more open than normal, and rather than feeling like I had to fill it with ministry activities I saw it as a blessing – an invitation to enjoy being with God and my family.
How is it going this Lent? It’s going OK. There are always more activities on our schedule than we realize, like just the regular daily or weekly activities. However, I have been able to be more intentional about finding quiet times with God, playing with the boys, or reading Scripture together as a family. I’ve had more time to rest. It has also been a little bit easier for me to enter into the suffering of those who are close to me during this Lenten season.
Although I certainly could NOT have given thanks to God for getting sick and missing out on my ministry commitments during my illness; now that I have had a chance to reflect and hear from God, I can genuinely give thanks for that time of sickness: for slowing me down, for being more attentive to my family, for calling me to Himself, for loving me not because of what I can do for Him, but simply because I am a child of His upon whom He freely rains down His unconditional love and mercy. Praise be to God! Amen.