Driving 85-North was busy and congested: endless construction barriers and redirects slowed and narrowed traffic to make going on today's long-awaited writing and prayer retreat, well, rather prayerful. Then, there it was: the rest stop where my husband, Greg, had been shot in an attempted armed robbery. It has been two years.
The anxiety attack that building caused, in traffic no less, surprised me. Heart racing, palms clammy, sweat dripping from my forehead -- the suddenness and intensity of it shocked me. I reached an exit away from the traffic mess and pulled over into a gas station. Deep breathing exercises, anxiety medication, focusing activities -- this is the new normal now. Two years later, and that rest stop hits me like this every time.
That night has had far-reaching effects, even to little things what we would take for granted. Most people keep scales in their bathrooms and weigh themselves regularly. In a recent checkup, we were told that Greg could be weighed at the hospital on a wheelchair scale -- four different places later in the same hospital, and no wheelchair scale existed for outpatient use. To Greg, this was yet another incredible inconvenience. To me, it was unfair and stupid and I said under my breath, "I bet the suspects can get weighed anytime they want in prison."
Stop. I heard His voice, immediately. Forgiveness means in the big things and the little things.
Even in anxiety attacks.
Sometimes forgiveness is a daily activity, particularly on weekends when Greg is home from work and I see him flinch and grimace in pain or trying to interact in such a way that would have been taken for granted when he wasn't paraplegic. Sometimes asking God to forgive the men who did this lasts a few days.
Lately, Jesus has been impressing on me that I need to ask forgiveness from Him for not thoroughly, one-hundred percent, forgiving the men. That in order to start the healing process, true forgiveness must be extended and not just some quip phrase to deal with Greg not being able to get in Laura's room to tuck her in at night, or watching the struggle it is to just get to church.
Reading 2 Corinthians tonight opened my eyes to a truth that I had read before, but the Holy Spirit took the words, fashioned a 2x4 out of them, and whacked me on the head with it:
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many," (2 Corinthians 8-11, emphasis mine).
Yes, the last two years has had each of our family members in despair at one point in another. But Jesus, in His infinite grace and mercy, is taking the ashes of that rest stop shooting and creating beauty from it. He is using that in people we haven't even met, to encourage them, increase their prayer life, and draw closer to Him.
The struggles aren't to harm us; they're to grow us. Grow us closer to Christ Jesus in such a way that blessings cannot.
Look at the verbs in that passage in verses 10-11. Has delivered. Will deliver. Will continue to deliver. These are not condemnations of our seeming lack of faith; rather, they are promises from Jesus. He has delivered, He will deliver, and He will continue to deliver us. It's not about us, speaking about the corporate Body of Christ. It's all about Jesus.
The Body's prayers remind of the Exodus 17:11-13. "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword."
That's what the Body of Christ does by helping people with their prayers -- they hold them up. Lifting to the Lord. That's what our friends, family, and even total strangers have been doing for two years now.
We didn't ask to be on this path, but we are on it. And if Jesus, as I know He can, will use our testimony of healing and forgiveness to lead just one person to Himself -- it will all be worth it. You see, my dear husband will, one day, walk again. It may be in heaven, but we have the hope that can only exist in Christ Jesus that these worn-out bodies will one day be traded in for Resurrection bodies with no expiration date. Will you have one?
It's all Jesus,
(C) 2017 Terrie McKee
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