In 2016, I was serving in Mozambique and looking forward to my 40th birthday at the end of the year.
For a long time I had wanted to climb Africa’s
highest point, Mt. Kilimanjaro in neighboring Tanzania, and I thought my
40th birthday would be the perfect time to do it!
the plans were made, I began to have non-stop pain in my
head. The pain continued, my birthday came and went, and I cancelled the
plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I returned to the US at the end of 2016, and it has been almost 4 years
now in this painful valley. I have prayed and fasted and done countless medical tests and treatments.
Along with the physical pain, comes
the frustration of not being able to “do” very much. Of course, I can still “be” for
Christ, which is my true and unchanging identity, not what I do or where I go. I
am loved by God, and I want to love God and people no matter where I am or what I am doing. This does not change.
But I cry out to God, “use me!” along with the important prayer connected to this request, “make me usable.”
And God responds
to me by saying...“I am.”
Whether I understand it or not, the great I AM has assured me that He is both making me
usable and using me in the valley.
I thank God for this unique and precious time to love and be loved by my family, my friends, and my local church. Walking side by side with Jesus in our valleys, we can grow in faith, grace, patience, obedience, perseverance, and our ability to be compassionate and to comfort others with the comfort we have received. As difficult as it is in our valleys, I believe we can be blessed in them, and we can be a blessing to others because of them.
When the bones in the valley before Ezekiel get more dry, and the sacrifices on the mountain before Elijah get more wet, we can remember that God delights to bring glory to Himself through the impossible situations in our lives.
The dry bones can be brought back to life, and the wet sacrifices can be burned up. When we trust and obey God in the impossible situations of our lives, God is glorified.
In these times, our faith is tested and refined like gold. Refining will come, whatever impossible form it takes. Gold is not beautiful without it. And our faith is much more precious than gold.