Post by Therese Kay
Once upon a time, there were two friends who lived on opposite coasts. Once students together at Smith College, where they also attended the same church, God and Facebook reunited them after many years. They discovered that they both suffered from chronic illness but still both loved the Lord.
Kathleen had a dream in her heart for many years to write a book. She also had a dream to minister to the people around her about God’s love. Therese’s dreams were a little bit different because they involved children’s books and photography but, like Kathleen, she also dreamed of loving and serving God and ministering to the people around her.
When God brought the two of us together again we never dreamed, at least I never did, what God was going to do. This pirate queen named Kathleen, and her kidnapped minion Therese, with the help of a gracious and mighty God, created a book. The funny thing is, we did not know that that was actually the "easy" part.
Because of our respective illnesses, the book took a while to come together. And, because of our respective illnesses, it is taking a long time to take off. However, we are both confident that God called us to this work and that He will do what He wants with it. I can only speak for myself when I say that I have sometimes questioned why God would call two chronically ill women to collaborate on a project that requires a consistent and sustained effort.
I’m glad I have asked these questions because God has begun to answer them and it soothes my soul. I want to share with you a few of the things that God has been teaching me because they apply to not only the sick but to the broken, the lonely, and also to the well.
God Is Strong When I Am Weak.
The first thing God is teaching me is something I think many of us are familiar with and have heard many times. God is strong in our weakness. “God doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called.” (Christine Caine, in Undaunted) This quote has come to mind often as I have been contemplating these things.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
God Likes to Show Off.
Another thing that God has been teaching me is that God likes to show off! God likes to do the unexpected, He likes to shake things up. He told Israel that He chose them not because they were the greatest of all nations, but because they were the smallest, and so they would demonstrate His power to the world. (Deuteronomy 7:6-7) He likes to do things in unexpected ways and through unexpected people. I have found truths in the most unlikely of places and at the most unlikely of times sometimes through the mouths of people I would never expect! God loves to surprise us! He loves to delight us! And in this case, He has called two very unlikely women to carry out a sustained ministry. To God be the glory.
My Identity Is in Christ.
This next thing that God has been teaching me is a little more personal and somewhat related to the fact that in our weakness we are strong in Him. Both Kathleen and I struggle with debilitating fatigue that affects our thoughts and our energy and our ability to show up or to complete things we’ve started. We can’t give from an empty cup and often times we are empty. This forces us to come to him continually to fill us and refresh us and strengthen us. Without him we could do nothing.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Poverty versus Abundance
You can see from my last point, that I often see myself as empty: that I have a poverty of energy and strength and health. And yet God says that he will provide abundantly and so we need to come to him and rely on him. We need to renew our minds to claim our identity in Christ that we have enough.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Choosing My Identity
This next point is that I need to choose my identity in Christ and not my identity with illness and brokenness. I am not a slave to illness, to fatigue, to pain, to impaired cognition. But I am a slave to Christ, who is freedom, abundance, and life.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.
Jesus sat one day and watched those coming to put their offerings at the temple and there was a widow who only put in two mites. This was amongst many who gave out of there abundance but this woman gave out of her poverty. And Christ said that that woman had given more than anybody else because of that. (Luke 21:1-4) Kathleen and I have come in our poverty of energy and strength and given what we had and I believe that God will honor that and bless it.
I am also reminded of the fish and the loaves. There weren’t enough to feed the crowds and yet when it was offered up not only were there was was there enough but they were baskets full left over. Not crumbs, but baskets full: enough to feed even more. (John 6:1-14)
God can do the impossible.
Rest Versus Striving
When one is sick and can’t do all she wants to do, it can seem like the to-do list is never-ending. It can be tempting to strive to get it all done, which leads to burnout and over-exertion very, very quickly. God is a god of rest. He is the God of the Sabbath. This is a lesson I’m continuing to learn, and I often mistake the amount of energy I actually have.
A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves.
God chose Kathleen and I to create this book and launch it into the world. Now the choice lies with us, which identity we choose: Prison or Palace.
Will we remain in the prison of striving, fatigue, illness, and anxiety, working in our own strength?
Or will we identify with the Palace where we have peace, strength, and rest?
When God chose us to do His work, He also presented us with the choice of where we will work from. By the grace of God, I choose the Palace!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Has God called you to something impossible? What will your response be?