The interesting thing about my blog is that I’m painfully honest with my thoughts and you, dear readers, get to see how doubts (about God) and fears (about real-life situations) are fought by applying what I know to be true about God through His Word.  I don’t do it perfectly, I’m no super-Christian.  I’m just me and slow to learn, but God works among the weakest of us (Matthew 11:25) and I’m walking through these difficulties sometimes freaking out (last post = good example), then doing what I know is best – applying truth.  Here goes again!

Since learning last Friday that a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) may be my last realistic option for pain relief with CRPS/RSD, I’ve had lots of thoughts, concerns, hopes, wishes and worries bumbling around in my brain.  I don’t want to be or sound all negative about getting an SCS.  I mean, it may be very helpful to me and change my life for the better!  I’m all for that part of it, naturally.  🙂  So if you hear me talking about all the things that could go wrong it’s because, well, all the things that could go right seem fairly obvious!  – PAIN RELIEF!  Getting to do things I haven’t done in a long time.  Not worrying so much about if things touch me or if the temperature outside is just perfect or if it’s going to rain and the rain will touch my legs, even achieving a new level of pain relief with my visceral hypersensitivity.  It’s the negative risks I need to decide whether or not I’m willing to accept as possible consequences of attempting to achieve those positive outcomes.  That’s the rub.

At the moment, I suppose I’m neither for nor against getting the SCS.  I’m just confused and need a lot more information about it.  I took the first step today; I contacted a representative from Boston Scientific, and I’m waiting for her to call or email me back.  Actually, I was hurting last night and couldn’t sleep, so I emailed her around 3am.  Then I also left her a voicemail at 9:30am.

The main question in my head the last two days hasn’t been about details of the SCS, however…it’s been:

How do I trust God in this situation?  What does that practically look like?

Funny.  You’d think I would immediately know the answer to that, at very least from life experience and trusting God with other parts of my life.  But no Sunday school answers seemed to suffice.  I needed something more practical to this specific situation.  I’m just slow to learn, slow to generalize what I have learned in other situations and apply it to new situations.  I’m a sinful, forgetful human being who needs an ocean of God’s grace.

I’ve had this sense that even dealing with the data and facts about spinal cord stimulators etcetera would be much easier to manage mentally if my soul were in the right place.  When my soul is in the right place, my emotions tend to follow – well, not always, but more often than not.

I’ve prayed the last few days that God would clearly show me what I need to do to obediently trust Him as I consider SCS.  He wasted no time in giving me my answers.  I woke up to my alarm clock radio playing a song I’d heard before.  Never had I really payed much attention to the lyrics, however, and today it spoke directly to me.
“Strangely Dim”

I’ve had all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don’t know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can’t see
Past the things I pray
Today

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

Sometimes where I stand
On this narrow road
Is in a raging storm
Or a valley low
But oh

When I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

I don’t know, I don’t know
What tomorrow may hold
But I know, but I know
That You’re holding it all
So no matter what may come

I’m gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
‘Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I’m gonna seek Your face
And not look around
Til the place I’m in
Grows strangely, strangely, strangely dim.

FRANCESCA BATTISTELLI

It goes back to Only Jesus.  I can only find my rest there, my peace, my joy and contentment.  When I wrote Only Jesus a few weeks ago, I was working through a different issue, but the answer that came from God was what I need to apply to this situation as well.

The song God used to touch me that week has a chorus that reads:

Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
Give us Jesus, we cry
Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
The Pearl of greatest price
– “Only Jesus” by Sovereign Grace Music

In response, I wrote:

“By turning to Jesus and speaking from our innermost heart, “Give me Jesus!  I desire no satisfaction besides Him and His fullness; I want to leave the rest behind!  Where is He?!”, sin hath no more dominion because we leave the puzzle pieces and blocks to God, trusting Him to arrange them as He sees fit.  We put Him in control rather than …ourselves….”

You see, when I am not trusting God, I am scrambling to take control of the situation myself.  By the way, this is a short path to insanity!  I simply cannot micromanage every issue in my life – there are way too many!  It would be a much easier burden for me to accept the yolk of the Lord (Matthew 11), allowing Him to control all these details which are out of my ultimate control anyhow, and recognizing His sovereign command over each one.  Accepting that yolk – the work of resting in Christ as my Master – with the Holy Spirit pulling more than the other half of the load on this double-yolk, brings a burden that is “light” and “easy”.  

Just last week we read that passage in a singles Bible study group.

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

I first need to be convinced of my need of God’s grace so that I can go to Him rather than working for either my salvation (as salvation is not by works, but by faith) or the earthly things I need in life to survive (Matthew 6).  Then there is also the heavy weight of my doubts (as seen below) as made known through my conscience, which I need God to forgive so that I may have joyful rest in Him.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29-30

I love what John Calvin wrote about verse 29:

Take my yoke upon you – Believe in me: receive me as your prophet, priest, and king.  For I am meek and lowly in heart – Meek toward all men, lowly toward God: and ye shall find rest – Whoever therefore does not find rest of soul, is not meek and lowly.  The fault is not in the yoke of Christ: but in thee, who hast not taken it upon thee.  Nor is it possible for any one to be discontented, but through want of meekness or lowliness. For my yoke is easy – Or rather gracious, sweet, benign, delightful: and my burden – Contrary to those of men, is ease, liberty, and honor.

I need to be meek like Christ; bowing my neck to accept being yolked to the Father’s will.  If I do not accept the yolk of Christ, I am instead forced to accept the yolk of the world which is hard.

Do you know what happened after we read verse 30 the other day?  I didn’t believe it.  “Are you trying to tell me that this is easy, God?  Cause right now, I got a newsflash…I’m not finding this “easy” nor “light”!”  My face probably expressed to others in the group that I was quite perplexed about how they were going to sidestep or explain this one!  I was crossing my fingers in hopes that I wouldn’t have to answer a question like, “How is God’s burden easy/light?” because I had no good answer to give…just “I have no clue at the moment.”  While obvious that I didn’t know how the burden of handling my medical situation is easy or light, perhaps more glaring to me was the fact that I’d not a clue as to how the burden of obedient trust in God was easy or light given my circumstances.  Ah, me of little faith.

Matthew Henry got it right in his commentary on Matthew 11:

Now this is the hardest part of our lesson, and therefore it is qualified (Matthew 11:30). My yoke is easy and my burden is light you need not be afraid of it.

The yoke of Christ’s commands is an easy yoke it is chrestos (I believe this means “well-fitting”), not only easy, but gracious, so the word signifies it is sweet and pleasant there is nothing in it to gall the yielding neck, nothing to hurt us, but, on the contrary, must to refresh us. It is a yoke that is lined with love. Such is the nature of all Christ’s commands, so reasonable in themselves, so profitable to us, and all summed up in one word, and that a sweet word, love. So powerful are the assistances he gives us, so suitable the encouragements, and so strong the consolations, that are to be found in the way of duty, that we may truly say, it is a yoke of pleasantness….

I found it interesting to learn that yokes are fashioned specifically for each animal.  Like a tailor making a suit from virgin material, the yoke also is measured against its wearer for a perfect fit and adjusted to correct any imperfections so that the wearer is comfortable.  A younger ox was often paired with an older and more experienced ox so that the younger ox may learn the ropes.  Christ is yolked with me to lighten the burden and to show me how to walk.

The burden of Christ’s cross is a light burden, very light: afflictions from Christ, which befall us as men afflictions for Christ, which befall us as Christians the latter are especially meant. This burden in itself is not joyous, but grievous yet as it is Christ’s, it is light. Paul knew as much of it as any man, and he calls it a light affliction, 2 Corinthians 4:17. God’s presence (Isaiah 43:2), Christ’s sympathy (Isaiah 73:9Daniel 3:25), and especially the Spirit’s aids and comforts (2 Corinthians 1:5), make suffering for Christ light and easy. As afflictions abound, and are prolonged, consolations abound, and are prolonged too. Let this therefore reconcile us to the difficulties, and help us over the discouragements, we may meet with, both in doing work and suffering work though we may lose for Christ, we shall not lose by him.

So…what about that “REST” part?  Oh no, I didn’t forget!  Neither did Matthew Henry, ’cause this is the good stuff, man – the cream in the middle of my (gluten free?) Oreo.  I have to do the hard work of humble submission, Bible reading, engaging my mind to think about Christ, and resting myself in His abundance.  This duty produces the reward of eternal rest in Christ who fulfilled all my needs.

You shall find rest to your souls…. The only way, and a sure way to find rest for our souls is, to sit at Christ’s feet and hear his word. The way of duty is the way of rest. The understanding finds rest in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, and is there abundantly satisfied, finding that wisdom in the gospel which has been sought for in vain throughout the whole creation, Job 28:12. The truths Christ teaches are such as we may venture our souls upon. The affections find rest in the love of God and Jesus Christ, and meet with that in them which gives them an abundant satisfaction quietness and assurance for ever….

Does that mean I’ll walk through this season of SCS and CRPS decisions without concerns or freak-out sessions?  Most likely not.  But I think by planting my soul in the Solid Rock I’ll at least have a stable anchor allowing me to survive the stormy winds blowing in every direction.  And by comparison, all around will grow strangely dim.

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