My new pal Cassie (fellow med school wife) got up early and ran a Kansas City half marathon this morning. So proud of her. I stayed home and ate pancakes.
Her race did cause me to reflect on something the Lord did for me though, which is always a good use of my time. Allow me to share.
First, I feel it must be said that there is nothing grand about me that would warrant God’s special attention and favor, just like there was nothing special about Jesus’s disciples when he lived on this earth. They were blundering and flawed, and they often misunderstood him. And yet, he lovingly devoted his time to them and shared wonderful secrets of God’s Kingdom with them, these ordinary men.
This gives me such hope. Some days, I am more aware of my ordinariness. My flaws. My selfishness. My human condition.
And then, almost at the same time, I am made aware of Christ. His grandeur. His love. His grace extended to me– another one of his flawed disciples.
With all this in mind, I was reflecting on a past time when God spoke to me in a dream. This is not typical for me. Some don’t believe that He still does that. All I know is that I had this dream, it specifically addressed a deep-rooted concern I had, and peace flooded my heart in the morning. I credit it to Him. I believe He gave me this dream for no other reasons than to comfort me, build my faith in him, and make himself more known to me (and perhaps to others now), because He is kind and good.
The events leading up to the dream are of importance. That particular year, I was faced with some simultaneous challenges, each of which I felt ill-equipped for. Challenges that frazzled me, exhausted me, and eventually left me feeling totally burned out and defeated. Battling fatigue and hopelessness, I felt like seriously giving up. I remember coming home and laying prostrate on the ground before God, crying. I cried on the couch. In my car. As I was falling asleep. Mind you, I am not usually a basket case. But during this season, I felt so fragile. So done. I desperately wanted to escape these challenges, and I often daydreamed about ways of escape, which provided some fleeting hope. If I wasn’t daydreaming, then I escaped through sleep.
I felt like I had nothing left to give and had firmly decided that I was just not up to the task(s) – end of story.
One night, before falling asleep, I lay in my bed. And the only prayer I could muster was a whimpering, “God, you said that you’re the God of All Comfort. I need you to comfort me.” And with that, I fell asleep. Tear-stained face and pillow.
And I dreamt.
I dreamt I was running a marathon. Not running. BOUNDING. With strength and purpose! Only a mile left to go. My lungs felt strong. My legs felt strong. My mind was clear. People were cheering along the streets. I saw the finish line and sprinted towards it. As I crossed the tape, arms raised and victorious, I looked up at my time on the clock – 15:00:00. (Huh, 15 hours is not a good time for a marathon. I was puzzled, knowing I had run a good race. I concluded that the 15 must stand for something other than hours.)
Reporters flanked me – “How did you run such a great race, Liane?” “Tell us about your training!” “How do you feel?!” I caught my breath, shrugged, and said I had been doing flexibility training (?? – ha!)
The dream ended, and I woke with an inexplicable peace and a clear promise in my head –
Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary…He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31
I wrote the dream down right away and told Matt about it. Then, out of curiosity, I felt compelled to check my calendar to see how many weeks I had left to complete my season of challenge. Guess how many weeks I had left. – Fifteen. Exactly fifteen.
Tears came to my eyes – different tears than the ones that had flowed not even 10 hours before. These were tears of hope.
Again I lay prostrate before Him. But this time, worshipping. Not groaning.
Why does He care to speak to me??? But He does!!!!!!!!!
Just as exciting to me about Him speaking this promise, is Him FULFILLING this promise. It wasn’t just nice words to think on to temporarily dull the pain. No! He actually did them!
First, I predicted your deliverance; I declared what I would do, and then I did it – I saved you.” – Isaiah 43:12
After taking a closer look at “those who wait on the Lord will find new strength,” I learned that the word “wait” here comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to hope expectantly” – it is a very active waiting. Not a passive waiting.
Well, hope expectantly I did. I returned to my place of challenge. And amazingly…
- Where I was confused, He provided clarity.
- Where I was at a loss for ideas, He gave me fresh ideas.
- Where I was tired, He gave me focus and energy.
He gave me new perspective, strengthened my stamina, even granted me joy when I was in the thick of (previously dreaded) duties. It was nothing short of divine. I know that I did not muster this in myself. God granted it. And each week that past, with Him sustaining me and helping me, the more I came to hope and expect Him to continue helping me, which was the only mentioned prerequisite for experiencing this new strength.
And I learned (perhaps for the first time, really) what “His power is made perfect in weakness” means. I learned it when I was at the lowest and the utter end of my capacity. This is when He showed Himself mighty for me.
Interestingly, my situation did not change. The challenges remained, crazy opposition was still needing to be handled, etc. But it felt SO DIFFERENT from before when my hope was dwindling and my strength was squelched. He saved me from my hopelessness.
I used to inaccurately think that God would not give me more than I can handle, but later I realized I was misquoting to myself I Corinthians 10:13, which is just referring to not being tempted beyond what I can bear. A very different point, indeed.
Suffering DOES come. Sometimes I DO feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I CAN’T handle it.
This morning, after remembering my suffering and the Lord’s deliverance, I read Paul’s words and was deeply encouraged again:
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead. And He did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that He will continue to deliver us.
– 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
I joked in a recent post how I was thinking of making a t-shirt that says “my husband does exist” (for those who never see him because he’s always studying for med school).
Now, I want to proclaim that God exists! He’s real. My heart bears witness to it. He is an ever present help in times of trouble.