Monday, June 08, 2009
The Wrong Question
Three nights ago God woke me out of a sound sleep with a Word. Actually, five words. Spoken in a precise, loud sentence--a sentence that reverberated in me as I lay in bed. And reverberates within me still.
Many of you know about my healing from Lyme Disease six years ago. (If you haven't read the story, you can click the link "My Healing" above.) In the space of an hour that day six years ago I went from crippled to completely well. A true New Testament healing.
That testimony has been on my Web site ever since, and people all over the world have read it. I've received many e-mails as a result from people who are fighting that terrible disease or some other. Many have asked me to pray for them, and I've added their names to my prayer card. As a result of that healing within me, God has since given me a healing prayer ministry of my own.
Last fall I began feeling tired. It crept up little by little. By January I was really fighting something. I thought maybe it was underactive thyroid. I was exhausted, falling into depression (which is not typically a problem with me). In later February I tanked. My ability to think went away. I tried to laugh about it--saying my brain was on dial-up. Writing a blog post, e-mail, anything meant staring at the screen, trying to remember what it was I'd been trying to do. My speech would stop mid-sentence, as I couldn't think of a very simple word. I couldn't get through the day without lots of rest. My neck didn't want to hold up my head. Weird.
Thyroid tests came back normal. Then one day the old symptoms hit--the aching muscles, arthritic joints, burning on the bottom of my feet, week knees, a tippiness to my body. Running had been long out of the question. Now I was having trouble walking.
I knew it--I'd gotten Lyme again.
I went for tests, and everything wrong happened. After waiting for weeks for results, I found the doctor hadn't ordered a complete set of tests, and I had to go through the process all over again. But I knew. There is no feeling in the world like Lyme enervation, Lyme pain. I knew those symptoms.
I went to Mount Hermon, where I was scheduled to teach a mentoring clinic in the mornings. I didn't know how I would manage the walking. Or thinking to teach. I asked God for a miracle to get me through. During the conference the director asked for prayer for me. Mt. Hermon, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), had been a major part of praying for my healing six years ago. I'd expected to attend Mt. Hermon and say nothing to anyone, since technically I didn't know for sure. I didn't have test results yet. But God outed me through the director's announcement, asking for prayer for me.
Man, did I cringe when that word got out. I didn't want people to know. What was I supposed to tell them? God had so miraculously healed me of the same disease six years ago. Why would I get it again?
Now I see that God wanted those dear people at the conference to pray for me. And pray they did. A few came up to me and prayed for me privately--God-sent individuals.
During the conference I became stronger. I did my morning classes fine, then rested in the cabin the entire rest of the day (except for lunch and dinner, when I had to host a table.) I went to no night meeting, did no hanging out with anyone. Just rested. (Except for the final night--the book signing, when I gave Hissy back to Deb. Heh-heh.)
After Mt. Hermon I received the test results. Positive. Different tests showed I had quite a high germ load. I was going to have another difficult battle. Sure enough, I went downhill again. Trouble walking, trouble thinking. I went to the doc to start treatment and came out so depressed. Not until that appointment did I realize how bad I'd become. I could barely follow simple directions he gave me as tests for my body and brain. And of course I could barely write. By this time I'd lost about three months of writing time.
I started treatment in the second part of April. Back to the regimen of high doses of antibiotics and loads of supplements. About 50 pills a day in all, portioned out in six doses throughout the day. You can't take this with that, this has to be taken with food, don't take that with food, separate this one from that one by four hours ... It's a puzzle just to figure out the pill-taking schedule.
In mid-May my book signing was coming up for Exposure. I didn't know how I'd be able to travel and do that signing. But about 10 days before that trip, I started getting better. And better and better--right up until now. For the past two weeks I've been pretty much symptom-free. I've even started running again--a few miles a day until I build back up to my regular regimen.
Looks like God has healed me again. Differently this time. Not in an hour, but still very quickly for Lyme. My doc, last time I saw him, said I'm "rare." He said he wished he knew what it is in my body that "fights the Lyme so well." It's not in my body. It's God.
During these months since January I've been asking God why? Why would I get Lyme again when He'd so miraculously healed me? Then when I got better so quickly--why have You healed me again? Why did You have me get sick, just to make me better so quickly? And why haven't You done the same for many sick people for whom I've been praying for months, some for years? I'm no more deserving of healing than they are. In fact, I'm the least deserving. So why?
In my defense--even as I asked the why question, I'd always follow it with, "I don't understand, but I trust You." And I meant it. I do trust God. His ways are higher than ours. I'm a mere fallible human. How can I possibly understand the mind of the God who created the universe? It's arrogant to think I can.
Then--the sentence from God three nights ago:
Don't ask WHY. Ask HOW.
Whoa, did that wake me up!
God has a way of helping us understand His cryptic meanings. I got it--fast. God was saying I'm wasting my time asking why, even if I am following that question with a declaration of trust. If I really trust God, why am I asking why in the first place? Every time a why question pops into my head, God wants me to ask a how question instead. How can I learn from this, God? How do You want me to respond to this? How can I use this for Your glory in my life? In others' lives? How can I better listen to You? How do you want me to pray for so-and-so who's still fighting an illness? How. How. How.
I don't know why I went through Lyme--again--these past months. I do know God will use it--for me and others. He's already using it in my life to draw me closer to Him. He's teaching me to ask how.
I have a strong sense this word from God is for someone else out there, too. God is efficient, after all. One person's lesson is often taught for many.
Are you asking why when you should be asking how?