Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Spiritual Gift of Stillness

It all started with this *^&% sickness. Pre-illness, I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was cooking meals for friends, I was teaching 2 year olds in Sunday School (while Mark huddled in the fetal position in the corner clawing his eyes out), I was building relationships, I was active with the boys. I felt like I was doing ministry. The key word there is "doing". I did. And I felt like I was...useful.

Needless to say, this past year and a half I haven't been doing much. It is astounding how little "doing" a person The whole situation was surreal on a number of levels, but spiritually it was definitely rocky. If I wasn't doing ministry, what use was I? Because of the fatigue, I was stripped of my skills with the proverbial spiritual bow staff. It was maddening to only be able to lay there and do nothing. Having been in "professional ministry" (there is a whole other post on that phrase coming some day), I wasn't sure what kingdom good I was just laying there while there were things to be done.

A couple of things happened to help me see my situation in a different light. One day some amazing and lovely ladies came over to clean and organize my neglected house. (Please keep the woman who tackled the master bathroom in your prayers...yikes.) I sat in the recliner watching these joyful woman make quick work out of my disaster. I saw them doing. And I was yet again overwhelmed by my uselessness. Then one sweet woman, Teddi, came over to talk to me. She sat down and talked to me about how I was feeling being sick with little kids and how I was holding up spiritually. I wasn't even sure how to answer that. I was in forced stillness. I was in a spiritual holding pattern. I couldn't do anything for the kingdom that I could see. Spiritual growth would come when I could get back in the game, when I was healed.

Then Teddi shared with me about her struggle with breast cancer. She told me that there were days where she felt so sick and tired that all she could do was lay there and repeat the name of Jesus over and over again. She was too tired to pray, too tired to serve, too tired to witness, just too tired. But she could still declare the name "Jesus". Something about that struck my heart deeply.

Now that I look back, that began a very slow change in me spiritually. My physical abilities didn't change - even today I can't yet do what I want to do. But I could lay there, rest, and proclaim the name of Jesus.

And so I did. Eventually the quiet and the stillness helped me understand some things that God has laid heavy on my heart that I wasn't even aware of before. I became consumed with praying for children, for friends without children, for the unborn, for children so ridiculously considered "unwanted". I feel like God shared with me a glimpse of His heart for children. I love children, but I had no idea that I had a burden to pray for them. And as I would lay there praying about these things, I felt like I was doing something. Something important that I maybe should have been doing long before then, but I was just too busy...doing to notice.

Being sick has been hard. Mark and I were talking last night about how difficult this last 18 months or so has been. We smile, we put on a good front, but it has been terribly difficult. At times excruciatingly difficult. But these days when I sit down and still myself, I remember that God can make good come from all situations. Having said that, let me tell you - it doesn't feel like I have received this neat, pretty spiritual truth wrapped up in a nice red bow. I have learned the value of stillness through tears, fear, anger, and sadness. But I have learned it. And most days, I feel like it has been worth the journey to gain the gift of stillness.


septic (yes, an Ann-given nickname) said...

That was beautifully written, Ann. What are you doing making me cry??? I know what you're doing, you're putting off the fear of heights thing. Can I tell a story about that? ;)

sagreen125 said...

as I read your blog,
it sure seems God has been doing more than what you think. I am amazed at your insight that you share, God is doing something bigger than you think
continue on you have a lot of wonderful things to share to engcourage others