This is one of KAR’S pictures from the R Family tour of Israel last year. I asked her to send it to me because it’s one of my Daddy’s favorite things to tell me about. The Apostle Paul made no secret of his desire to go to Rome (Romans 1.10), but he ended up going in a way he would never have chosen – by appealing to Caesar he was escorted to Rome as a prisoner and used his time well to share the Good News with many of Caesar’s household (Philippians 4.22). The fact that he didn’t get to go to Rome when he wanted to also resulted in the letter he wrote to the Romans – and we have profited from the epistolary treatise for generations.
KAR sent me this picture a long time ago and I filed it away in my Flickr account until I wanted to write about it. Today’s the day! I think Tanpo likes to tell be about Paul going to Rome because it is such an encouraging and instructional example of someone who was forced to walk a path he wouldn’t have chosen, but in retrospect we are privileged to see how the Lord multiplied Paul’s impact via those circumstances that were hard to live through but were chosen and planned from the perspective of the eternal Divine.
KRK (remember him from the Life of Elijah – I Kings 19 at the end of my How to Eat Ice Cream… post?) wrote an article in this month’s Missions magazine. (Do you get Missions? You should. Or if you want to save paper you can read it online.) It’s called “When God Says, ‘No’ so that Missions Advance”. It’s on the inside cover if you’re reading the hard copy, or page 2 of the pdf. What an honor that would be – to receive this kind of “No” for His greater glory. KRK mentions me in the article (thanks, K!) and when he first talked to me about it I was floored at the prospect.
I said this a couple of weeks ago, but this is not just “my story.” It’s the situation the Lord chose me to entrust with. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of times I feel like I could have totally done without the privilege of being “chosen”, but then I remember that He planned this from the beginning and will provide my resources for living and I can smile again.
A couple of weeks ago Ai Ai and I were Hee-Hawing in the aisle of a store as I pushed a cart along for exercise. “Boo Boo,” I reflected, “sometimes I think I might laugh too much to be a credible disabled person.” She told me, No no, the sound of laughter is evidence of a joyful heart – and that is a Very Good Thing. I guess genuine laughter does point to a joyful <3, which increases my credibility as a disabled person who trusts God for His perfect plan even though things have been looking extremely imperfect for quite a while now.
When I shared what’s been going on with the lovely group of Ladies at the end of July it was the first time since I got sick that I could say, “I found grace in the valley.” There is often a distinction between what we know to be true vs. what we feel to be true. On that Saturday the two coincided for me in a very sweet way. As I was talking I was thinking, “I’ve got this,” because this has been my life for 2+ years and so I know this “story” well. But as I was talking I realized that many of the ladies there had no earthly idea these thoughts had been going through my head and it was good for them to hear me say what everyone was thinking and then chronicle how the Lord let something Really Bad happen to me and then gave me peace about it.
Seriously – if you haven’t read “The Turning Point” please go do so, now. You can also listen to a clip of what I said that morning (7:41). I write for many reasons, but this is the primary one. I used to give people a little speech at The Place before I handed out tracts: “I’ve had time to consider whether or not this is true, and I think it is, so I want to make sure you know about it.” It was early on in my outpatient life and I was like, “C’mon – who’s really gonna say, ‘No’ to the girl in a chair?” Heh, heh. Sorry.
I was glad to see everyone on Saturday but it was a special treat to see R – JCJ’s mom. Sister K came, too, and I got to meet her new baby and Grandpa, too. It was great because I had corresponded earlier in the week with R but totally forgot to invite her to come on Saturday! Welcome to my world. A couple of nights ago I also forgot to take my contacts out for the first time in 17 years. I guess I was just really focused on getting in bed because my back was all done.
A year ago I visited with R and she asked me in such a gracious, winsome way, “Is it okay that you lived?” She’s pretty much the only person in the world who could ask me that with the weight of experience behind the question and true friendship lending it sweetness. The fact that she’s JCJ’s mom is yet another one of those things I see too much intentionality in to be considered coincidental.
Yeah, it’s okay that I lived. More than okay. And on Saturday I got to say why.
P.S. the title of this post is a play on the song, “In the Valley” by Sovereign Grace. It’s based on the titular prayer from The Valley of Vision – the collection of Puritan Prayers and devotions introduced to me by Drs. M&S when they visited me during my Amazingly Happy Summer in OR 2010. It’s a very peaceful song – if you like it go Google it and you’ll find that Sovereign Grace very kindly provides free tabs, lyrics, lead sheets and piano scores(melody and chords only) online.