September was a notable month for me this year. It marked my 40th birthday, which was celebrated in grand style with some wonderful friends. I felt so loved…so unbelievably surrounded by love. Late September is also the anniversary of my first grand mal seizure which eventually, and quite frankly, thankfully, led to my epilepsy diagnosis. It’s a date fixated in my memory with visions of looking across a store and looking at my 2-year-old. Everything inside me was screaming for help, for my son and for myself. I had no clue what was about to occur, I just knew something was terribly wrong and I needed someone to help us. I awoke to a sore arm where I landed on a clothes rack, another huge bump on my head and a bleeding tongue. I had the pleasure of one more escorted ride to the ER.
Eight years. It seems like an eternity and yet it seems like yesterday. I have had a hard time with this 40 thing. I’m so far from where I thought I would be at 40. Ten years ago I was pregnant, well actually about to blow a major-gasket-size pregnant, with our second child. We knew he would be our last, because hell hath no fury like a woman who has thrown up everyday for 9 consecutive months. This one was it! In my mind I was ready to settle down with our two children, adjust to a change in jobs at CAT for Johnny and find my niche in my own career at the church which was experiencing growth in monumental proportion. My plan went smoothly for a couple of years.
And then God reminded us all that He, and only He is in control of our lives. In the blessings, in the joy and in the abundance, we forget to run to Him. We forget to ask Him to guide us, to ask Him to forgive us and to ask Him everyday to be the light in our lives and let us reflect His life saving light. I had forgotten that God gave me breath, that He chose Johnny and me to raise Justin and Hunter. I had forgotten to thank Him each day for my husband, my children, my home, provisions for all of us and most importantly for sending His son Jesus for me. He knocked me off my feet so I would draw near to Him as my comfortable world around me crumbled. I guess the first time didn’t work, so He tried a second time to get my full attention.
Last week as I was running I passed a church, well actually I passed 6 churches on a one mile stretch of one road. You know you live in the heart of the south AND the Bible belt when there are 6 churches on one road within one mile. Seriously, if everyone joined forces can you imagine the power? Oh well, that is another topic for another day. Anyway, one of the churches had a marquee about the coming week’s sermon. It said “Erasing Expectations, Embracing Grace”. I ran past that marquee several times last week and each time it really struck a chord with me. My 40th birthday had me thinking about the expectations I had once had for myself. It had me thinking about my failures. My, my, my. Not once had I thought that perhaps I had accomplished the expectations God had for me. I was too fixated on what limitations I now have from my brain injury and from the epilepsy and where I might have been. I forgot that God brought me to this point in my life because He loves me. God gave me His grace to get me to this point and I had forgotten that my life is about fulfilling His plan, not my own. I have sinned in forgetting His grace surrounds me daily.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about his thorn in the flesh and pleading with God to remove it. Some think Paul may have even been referencing epilepsy. I too have pleaded with God to remove my own thorn in the flesh. Just as God chose my husband for me, chose me as the Mother for Justin and Hunter, He chose me to have epilepsy. I never questioned the blessings of my husband or my children, yet I questioned epilepsy. Perhaps, God blessed me with epilepsy too? When Paul pleaded with God, God spoke to him and said in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Well what a fool I have been! Paul reminds us that only in our weakness, our infirmities and our distresses is the almighty power of God displayed. God makes us weak so that we will trust Him, lean on Him, thank Him for our daily bread and our daily breath.
What if I wake up tomorrow with no expectations and just embraced the grace that God gave me to allow me another day? What if I face each day erasing my expectations and asking God for encounters with Him? It’s about perspective. Is the glass half empty, or is it half full? Is God part of my life, or is He my life…the source of my life?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
© Copyright Gatewood Campbell, October 2013