Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Divinely-Orchestrated Trial

For Christmas, Eric bought me the study Bible I have been wanting for quite some time.  Filled with maps, illustrations, explanatory notes, historical settings, key themes, literary features, and detailed outlines, I am having a blast!  No longer do I puzzle over obscure meanings or try to remember the English equivalent of a cubit, I simply look in my handy-dandy ESV Study Bible!  Well, this morning I read in Matthew 11 that when John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of Jesus, he sent his followers to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"  What?!  Are you kidding me?!  Isn't this the same guy who eight chapters back in Matthew 3 said he wasn't worthy to baptize Jesus?  Isn't this the same fellow who saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descend like a dove to rest on Jesus?  Isn't this the same bloke who heard a voice FROM HEAVEN saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased?"  Why the confusion?  How much proof does a person need?!  Enter my wonderful, handy-dandy study Bible!  Hmmmmmm . . . what do the "experts" say about this?  Apparently, poor John the Baptist starts to wonder if he's missed something.  You see, he was under the impression that if he were a repentant follower of Jesus, he would receive blessings; it was the unrepentant who would receive judgment.  Tragically, John the Baptist was wasting away in prison, awaiting a beheading by Herod Antipas.  Not quite the blessing he was expecting.  I actually felt sorry for John.  This guy was really devoted to God.  Wearing itchy clothing, eating locusts, and STILL he ends up without a head.  Certainly not "fair."  

This reminded me of some of the confusion I felt when a week ago I was awaiting results from a double biopsy.  Would I be told I had terminal cancer?  Why would God "call" me to Guam and have me invest in an incredible ministry and then do this?  Even if I lived through it, it was quite inconvenient!  After all, I was in the middle of teaching a college class and now I was packing my bags for California!  This turn of events definitely took me and my prior record of perfect health by surprise.  

But, I have to say, going through this horrible event has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced.  I don't think it is possible to articulate the amazing way I have felt God's presence walking with me every step of the way.  In the midst of the human terror of knowing I may be told I only have weeks to live, I concurrently experienced a supernatural peace.  How can one explain having such divergent feelings simultaneously?  I watched as God provided for my physical needs in miraculous ways.  Rushing to the states on such short notice would normally have cost $1800 for an airline ticket, but a family who didn't even know me GAVE me a round-trip ticket (and it was business class to boot!).  I IMMEDIATELY got an appointment with a top surgeon in California who generally has a long waiting list.  Friends gave me money specifically to help cover the mounting medical expenses.  I was stunned by the love and support I received from family and friends.  I never realized the significant emotional and spiritual support system that surrounds me. 

Throughout those frightening weeks of not knowing my fate, I ALWAYS felt the tender and powerful presence of my Savior.  It was in His comforting presence that I found the security to face my mortality and all aspects of my life, although it was anything but fun.  I analyzed how I use my time, where I invest my energy, and what's important to me.  I didn't like everything I saw.  I was saddened that I hadn't accomplished more.  I wished I could be more like what people expected me to be.  I grieved my inadequacies and earthly insignificance until, finally, weeping on the phone with my mom I sobbed, "Isn't it enough to just love people?  Can't my ministry simply be to try to express the love of Christ to everyone I meet?"  And, that's really the end of the story.  I am infinitely grateful that my biopsies were benign.  I am infinitely more grateful that as a result of going through this ordeal, I am confident of God's call on my life.  My calling is not to be a renowned professor, a brilliant psychotherapist, a famous author, or a pioneering missionary.  My call is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind, and to love my neighbor as myself.  This is my full-time job, and I learned this with force during my divinely-orchestrated trial. 


Pam Sorenson said...

wonderful musings - safe in the arms of Jesus is the best place to be, no matter what happens.

Anonymous said...

Karyn, what a blessing for you to share your journey of wondering why God allowed you to go through such trying times. I'm going to share in my bible study women's group. especially since we've been praying for you. We love you guys and hope to get together this summer.

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Pastor Tim said...

You know, I once viewed Romans 8:28 as trite, but have come to view it as another facet of the nature of our God. He takes our trials and our evil and turns them to good, just as He took man's evil intent with a cross and changed it to my redemption.

Great Blog Karen, Tim Royal

Leann said...

Karyn, I love you. You and your entire family will always be in my heart. I am so very happy for the results of your tests and the results of you now knowing and being so passionate about your calling.