Below are some words I wrote to share for my Thanksgiving Eve service at church. I have a good story to add:
Our pastor had emailed 4 of us who were asked to share beforehand with the order of worship for the evening, so I knew the point at which I was expected to step up. This blessed pregnancy of mine has been making me very sick these days. I'm not usually very nauseated during my pregnancies, but it has been pretty bad! On top of that, my OB's predictions are proving true, and my POTS symptoms have been terrible; it almost feels like my meds are not working at all. I'm halfway through the 1st trimester and am hoping that the other predictions of low symptoms in the 2nd and 3rd come true too! Today I felt AWFUL. As I sat there in the service waiting for my turn, I went into full-blown POTS mode- shortness of breath, tachycardia, dizziness, painful, heavy limbs, etc. I was struggling with what I should do! I knew that if I tried to stand up there I would pass out. There was not a graceful way to pull out a chair or something, so I thought I'd just sit on the front pew and try to lean over into the aisle or something. But even with that plan, I was afraid that my breathing would be too ragged for me to manage reading my little story. I had written it down because my brain hasn't been too reliable lately thanks to my brain fog- another POTS symptom. I was praying, praying, praying for God to make a way for me to share! I was trying to decide if I needed to just give it to Brendan to read for me when the pastor accidentally skipped over me. I thought they may just skip me altogether, and I prayed that if God wanted for people to hear what I had written that they would bring it up later in the service. I also prayed that God would not allow Satan to keep my words from people if God wanted them to have them. While I sat and rested, the POTS episode passed. After the homily, the pastor called me up. Although my tremulousness was pretty bad and I did feel pretty weak and short of breath, I was able to stand through my whole reading and my heart beat normally. Even in sharing about God using me in his own ways during my times of weakness, I experienced him using me in his own way in my time of weakness!
When I was invited to be up here tonight, I was very excited because I love public storytelling- especially telling stories of God's faithfulness, and we got to see God do a lot of amazing, kind work in the past year. But, as I tried to choose which story to share, I decided that I couldn't do any of them justice in three minutes. I'm going a level up to share the overarching view, and you can just trust me that the supporting details are there.
So, my big thank you to my God for this year is for HIS amazing storytelling. The closer I look at Scripture, the more romance and beauty I see. I see the art in going through Levitcus and now Hebrews in our sermon series. There are so many overwhelmingly beautiful analogies, characters, foreshadowing, and intertwining, generation-spanning plot lines that I stand in awe. If you spot a theological hole in this next point, you can set me straight after, but I like to behave like we are living in Book Three- like God is writing a trilogy. There's the history in the OT, and then the NT, and then here we are living in the last installment leading up to the grand finale of Christ coming to establish the New Kingdom. We all get to be God's characters in his story.
18 months ago, my character's storyline took a twist. I was diagnosed with a mysterious, currently incurable, chronic illness, and my family and I did not like what was happening to our story! My illness came with life-changing levels of exhaustion, pain, and weakness. It leaves me faint. I was afraid that I was being written off to the sidelines of the Story, but, of course, that's not how God treats people who love him- he's never going to drop me. And, you know, a great writer spends time on character development. I know that I have become richer, and I hope for his sake, more compelling, because now I can appreciate promises like these from his story: "He heals all your diseases... he satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." And this from Isaiah 40: "Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint." God has me praying for and looking for this kind of work to happen in my life. And, funny, the more you pray the more you see. One way that he has renewed my youth and strength is by giving me desire for and then blessing us with another baby- one we are expecting in late July and who at this moment is making want to throw-up. He renews my spiritual strength every day through his Word and increases my faith by using some of my worst days to encourage others. He even has used me to bring people here to Green Lake. So tonight, I am thankful that I get to be in this story and thankful that I get to be in it with you. I give all glory to The God Who Sees, The God Who Heals- my most beautiful, romantic storyteller.