Friday, August 24, 2012

The Whole Picture

It has been a long time since I have written anything at this blog, partly because I feel like my last post and the song it contains are things God has just been working, reworking, and working into my heart again and again.  Just when I think I am getting ahold of it, I realize that I have still been banging my head against the wall about it instead of letting go.  I really resonate with the lyrics Rich Mullins penned, "Surrender don't come natural to me. I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want, than take what you give that I need.  Surrender don't come natural to me.  And I beat my head against so many walls, now I'm falling down, falling on my knees..."

Anyway, the situation we have been dealing with has been my son's (and my husband's) diagnosis of Celiac Disease; and our walk to his healing via the GAPS-diet.  I want to make it very clear that I do believe God could heal this whole thing supernaturally in one fell swoop; but we have received many words to the effect of, "You are going to need to walk this out, I have something for you in this that you would not be able to receive otherwise."

Well, recently we reached a turn for the better; the chronic digestive distress seemed to be easing for my son and that was giving me hope.  We had spoken with a practitioner who deals exclusively with GAPS, and she added a few new tools to our toolbox.  Then, we went on vacation.  Even though I was pristine with his diet, we saw symptoms every day (read: I was very glad we had made the decision months ahead of time that on this vacation we were going to take a break from our normal cloth diapers and use disposable).  He was happy, he was enjoying the time with friends and family, but being out of his routine had his system stressed and so he had symptoms every day.  This fact had me at my witt's end.  I felt like a paddle-ball, going back and forth between enjoying my time with friends and family, and being utterly stressed and heartbroken over my son's condition.  This might seem melodramatic to those who have not gone through it, but anyone who has endured the chronic illness of a loved one -- I am sure -- can understand completely. 

I did not realize it at the time, but I was so frustrated because I was not actually allowing my loved ones to share the burden with me.  I thought I was inviting those who so desired to be a support to us, but I was not really receiving it fully.  The result of this was that about halfway through my "vacation," I was beyond depressed, despite the best efforts of those who love me dearly.  We arrived at my parents' house for the second half of my trip, and I went to bed and woke to yet another horrendous diaper in the morning, and I said to God, "Please tell me there is something for us at my parents' church today; because I need to know I did not drag him on this trip just to make him sicker!"

We walked through the doors and every encounter I had till we left served to show me just how much I was insisting on carrying this on my own.  We received words from praying people who did not even know us, which gave purpose and shape to everything that we are going through.  Again, it was just impressed upon my heart that this healing journey with GAPS and through the prayers of all of those sowing into this is going to be a process.  We will see healing in our son and in the spiritual life of our family, and we will see it through walking this out.

All of that brings me to where we were today.  Another diagnosis the GAPS practitioner made was that Joshua's symptoms point to low stomach acid.  On the list of things we can do to improve that naturally, there is only two we are not currently doing, and only one of those can we do anything about.  We are adding some apple cider vinegar to some of his foods and to his water (as well as some of the juice from our homemade sauerkraut to some of his foods, too).  The other one is all in Joshua's court: he needs to actually chew his food instead of inhaling it.  As I was texting with my mother, conveying all of this to her, I said that it was the next step in the healing process, "because unless his body can break down and assimilate the healing foods GAPS focuses on, we will not see any healing -- except for supernaturally, but I really do believe God is calling us to walk this out."  She agreed and said, "There is something in this for all of us."

Well, when she said that, it suddenly occurred to me that I should ask God what that is (I know, clever, right?).  So I said, "Okay, God, what is this whole stomach acid thing a picture of?"  And the Lord brought to mind a scene I have written about here before.  Back when we were still living in Toccoa and Jeff was still looking for a job, Joshua was due soon and I was frantic because our situation just looked increasingly bleak.  And while I could not sleep one night I was out at the sink doing dishes and just talking to God.  And I ranted to Him, basically, that I did not understand why we were still in this situation.  I knew He wanted us to trust Him and I felt like we were doing that.  Instantly He answered me with, "Melody, there is a big difference between trusting me, and pulling the covers over your head and saying, 'Wake me when this is over.'"  I was instantly convicted, this morning, that we were doing that again.  "Okay, Lord, just get us through this until he is healed."  Well, if we are to walk this out, it is because there are things we need to learn along the way.  Things we otherwise might not be able to really internalize otherwise.  So we need more "stomach acid," so we can break these things down into pieces and really absorb them; pulling every last bit of nourishment out of them, so we can testify to it later.  I have said before; God is a surgeon who operates without anesthetic, so we can testify to what He has done.  If that is true -- and I fully believe that it is -- why am I sitting here trying to avoid the painful bits and just plow my way through to the other side?  Why am I not, instead, allowing the God of all Comfort to nurse us and nourish us through this, drawing us closer to Him and healing us in more ways than we even realize we need?

So I asked my mother how she thought I should "pray into" that revelation; and she said I needed to pray that God would show me His way in all of this, and help me to understand what He is wanting us to learn.

Then another thing comes to mind, and that was the fact that our GAPS practitioner had advised (because we were seeing no resolution for the chronic digestive distress) that we remove all fiber from his diet, including his much beloved broccoli.  The only "veggie" she wanted us to give him was avocado (I know, I know, it is a fruit but that is not the point).  I balked at this, inside, because of my insistence that "kids need vegetables," but really he does not need them.  He is on a very good multivitamin/mineral, and he gets plenty of calories in fat and protein during the day.  So we did what she asked, and low and behold, his digestion cleared up.  Thinking about this, I asked the Lord again, "What am I supposed to be seeing here?"  And He answered right away, "What is it that you are relying on -- that you think is absolutely necessary -- which is actually doing harm right now?"  OUCH.  Well, I have to confess that I told God it was a little intense for me and I would have to think more about that one later.  But I have not actually been able to get away from it all day.  And if there are things we are relying on that are actually hurting us, there are surely also things we are afraid of that are the best thing for us. 

So this is the whole picture: If God is bringing you through something; if He has told you He is walking through this with you, stay by His side and allow yourself to learn from every bit of it, pleasant or unpleasant.  Then, allow Holy Spirit to examine your heart, to point out things you are placing your trust in which are not of Him and are actually doing you harm.  And no matter how scary what lies ahead may appear, walk toward it prayerfully, trusting that the God who has been with you this far is going to keep you and guide you in every single step.

This is where I am right now.  I am working on digesting this word from the Lord, and let me tell you it is not easy.  But it is good.  If we walk this journey with our eyes shut tight, we miss the opportunity to witness all that our wise and wonderful Creator has and will accomplish on our behalf (and for His glory).  Not only that, but we render all of these trials absolutely useless if we refuse to learn from them and allow them to shape our faith.  I do not want to strip all of this "stuff" of all its meaning.  I need it to mean something, or it was all in vain.  On the other side of this, we are going to have a remarkable testimony, but right now, I have an opportunity to grow closer to my God, and that is even more important!

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