Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
– Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)
Last week I wrote about following Jesus when the path doesn’t lead where we expected it to. But what about when following Jesus means allowing our whole world to be turned upside down?
Five years ago I was diagnosed with three not-so-fun diseases at one time. When I was much younger a bug, or maybe it was actually a whole army of bugs, had bitten me and passed on pretty much every bad thing it was able to pass on. For more years than we can actually be sure of, I was doing a semi decent job of acting like everything was OK on the outside while my body was slowly dying on the inside. By the time I was diagnosed, I was in a world of pain.
If you asked me back then how I felt about the whole thing, I would have turned into a sobbing mess and told you this is not what I signed up for! I didn’t want a disease let alone three diseases that doctors were still trying to figure out. But if you asked me now, I’d tell you that I’m so grateful that God was with me through the hardest journey of my life and that Jesus literally never left my side.
In fact, over the next several years Jesus carved a path through the wilderness, leading me not just from illness to better health but from old life to new life. Sometimes that path felt like a yellow brick road, sometimes it felt like stepping stones through a raging river, and other times seeing the next step felt about as clear as digging for pebbles at the bottom of the ocean. A very, very deep ocean. But through it all, Jesus was there. Even when it felt like I was all alone. And just like hindsight is always 20/20, I could only see it all when I was though the woods.
For years I’ve thought about that life altering journey that took me from following my own path to following God’s path, and how I couldn’t know it then but it was like breathing oxygen after decades in a stuffy room. A lot of that path was about abiding, being faithful in the small things day in and day out, turning away from the world’s ways and choosing a better thing He set before me, even when I didn’t want to or it seemed like it was too much to ask.
Since being better I’ve accidentally and sometimes not so accidentally strayed from this path a handful of times, and it’s never long before I’m back in hot water and realize I’ve made the wrong choice. Each time I start to wander too far away, He gently calls me back. And whenever I respond He picks me up, dusts me off, puts me back on solid ground, and steadies me as I walk along. Never leaving my side.
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
– Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
The path God carved out for me included changing the way I ate and the way I took care of myself, working through unhealthy emotions that I’d held on to for far too long, giving up things that weren’t good for me, and drawing closer to Him in my daily life. But everyone’s paths might be different. Recently God pointed me back to the path He’d led me down and asked me to get back on it, and I’m going to be recapping what walking that path looked like for me five years ago and what it’s looking like now.
What about you guys? Has God ever carved a path for you to follow by giving you a whole new perspective on something or asking you to do something you never thought you’d do before? Have you ever had to walk through an experience that turned your world upside down?
Original photo of Chickadee At The Suet by John Witherspoon