Sunday, August 21, 2016


And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

I think of this verse almost daily as my GPS sweetly tells me which turn is upcoming. Back in the day when I had a slider phone {I've upgraded only slightly, but enough to make a world of difference}, I had a lot of experiences like this...yet, despite my smashing ability to get lost on a ten-minute trip I've traveled a dozen times before, it took me a long time to trust my GPS.

It's completely embarrassing how many times I got lost because I was like That can't possibly be right. Why is it telling me to turn right when I should be going left???? and found, 15 minutes later, that indeed, impossible was actually accurate and I didn't know what I was doing, and surprise, surprise, the whole satellite/map thing actually had it right.

At this point, though, I'm completely dependent on it. Now that I've moved to the 'big city' and have to drive between hospitals, to campus, to find stores, etc., I use it all the time, and most days have no idea where I am, other than the fact that the blue dot on my phone is supposedly me and yup, I should go straight for another 1000 feet, then turn right. {I'm getting better at estimating distances, heh.} Which is why it's hit me, more than once, how perfect a comparison this is for my relationship with God. 

It takes a long time to completely trust Him too. You wouldn't think it, not when He's God, and I'm me, and I know how many times I've managed to get myself lost before. Not when He's proven Himself faithful time and time again that I've actually followed His direction. Yet I still find myself panicking, sure I'm going wrong, sure this or that is the wrong next turn and that street can't be the one I'm looking for. 

Case in point, Step 2 CK. Which for those of you blessedly unaware, is a 9 hour exam on everything we've learned in the 3rd year of medical school. Quality control that those hospitals to which we've been spun out have given us enough info for us to learn what we need to know. I've been dreading it, almost since Step 1. {This disaster and miracle from the One who equips the called.} I tried to do what I should in preparation - I got a practice question set, started it early, got a review course, went through the entire thing in the recommended time frame...I knew I shouldn't worry, and I refused to. As much as I could. 

And I could tell the difference. I felt better going through questions. I was making connections, understanding the why as well as the what, far better able to sort through answer choices than in my preparation for Step 1. Also, I didn't spend 9 weeks freaking out. {Always a bonus.} 

But it still wasn't enough. I wasn't getting as many questions right as I should, the practice test I took I failed {oooh, big mom: you always do that}, and I was nowhere near where my study schedule had set me up to be. {Trying to study after 12-13 hours in a hospital is extremely difficult for me. Even after 10 brain does not want to learn anything more.} I reached the Sunday before my exam in a bit of mess. I hadn't been getting much sleep, I was exhausted, the past week had been crazy stressful with moving and having a whole new level of responsibility thrust upon me in my "practice-intern rotation," the test was HERE and I couldn't delay it, but I also didn't feel ready to take it, and surely this was not the situation I should be in, and surely I could have/should have/would have...

God, I need another miracle. 

Not that I deserved one. I'd had the same amount of time everyone else had, and they were all taking it on time and doing fine. I didn't know if I was just psyching myself out and I was actually ready or...if I had no business taking it right now at all - i.e., no business going to the top of a building and throwing myself off in blissful assurance that God would catch me. It is written...

But I was out of options. So I shoved my study materials to the side, and prayed. And read a verse. And a study-key linked verse. And another verse linked to that. 

I don't know if it can be explained...and yet...oh, you guys...the verse that had been running through my head over and over as I studied was, 

Thy God hath commanded thy strength; 
Strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought for us.

Which led me to

Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us, for Thou also hast 
wrought all our works in us. 

Which eventually led me to

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.

And suddenly I found myself sitting on my bed, Isaiah 41 pulled up on the computer in front of me, bawling into a pillow over the sheer, over-the-top, wholly impossible love of universe-creating, omniscient, omnipotent God Who will hold your hand. Who does not turn away from our fear and weakness and inabilities, but rather Who comforts and carries us. 

When you enter God's presence, you know it. It's like the scales have fallen from your eyes, like the fiery horses and chariots have suddenly become visible, like the peace that passes understanding has suddenly filled your heart and mind and the rest has faded away. Most times, I end up sobbing. 

Definitely this time. It's hard to explain that feeling...that wondrous awe and fierce ache for all you love to share in His beauty that follows. {I prayed harder for others than I have in quite a while, and the prayer came so naturally from the awe it was hard to tell where they separated.}

Can you fathom it, though? The God of all Creation...Most Holy, Most High, Matchless, and All-knowing...and from His place of all perfection He reaches out to us in our sin and our mistakes and our stupidity and our fear and our weakness and every dark thing we despise about ourselves, and this is what He says: 

Be of good courage...I have chosen thee and not cast thee away...fear thou not, I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my Righteousness. They that wage war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught. 
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Douay-Rheims translates it, For I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee, Fear not, I have helped thee.
Which I love, both for its I am the Lord who take thee subtle acknowledgement of the Trinity, and the blatant I have helped thee. The God who stands outside of time, who sees all things as they happen, has already done what is necessary to help us.

What manner of God is this? People try to say "Small, angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament" and my brain hurts, because God the same yesterday, today, and forever is He who so tenderly comforts and encourages and strengthens here. He who shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou take refuge is the same who said, How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings
A God Who knows our fears, and willingly comes to comfort us. 
It took me too long to recognize fear as the basis for things I was calling irritation, perfectionism, laziness, any number of other names, really. Until I acknowledged the fear that was their base, the fear that the end goal was not going to be one I could survive, I couldn't really accept the comfort He was offering. This is the Perfect Love that casts out fear, for how can fear be present once we understand His love? 

Fear not...I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake themI will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

These are His people, besieged by enemies from without and tormented by their own weakness from within, and to them, to us, He offers Himself. 
Who holds hands? Parents and children, lovers, denotes a relationship, a trust and a responsibility and care for the one whose hand is being held. And for such a God as this is, to gently take our hand and tell us our help is already here...

Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the First, and with the Last; I am He.

And once more I was reminded that med school was not my plan for my life but His, and He was the One who brought me each step along the way, and if He wanted me in a program requiring a high score, then He would make the way possible, and if He didn't, then I would end up somewhere else, and it would still be good. If I get a terrible score/fail, the only thing hurt will be 
my pride, and honestly...who cares? 

I had been furiously irritated with myself, frustrated beyond belief that this summer, after all I learned last summer, I was not completely on top of everything, not being a perfect friend, not being a perfect daughter/sister/aunt, not being a brilliant example of a medical student...yet with Him, none of it mattered except the incredible, overwhelming realization of His love for me. He loves me, and that is all, and more than all, that I could possibly need. 

I asked to know Him this year. And so far the moment of most knowing Him was to bow with tears before the magnitude of His love for me. A God who not only imagined me, created me, sacrificed Himself and a Oneness of His Personhood in torture and agony so that I would not permanently separate myself from Him, a God above time and space and angel armies...
but also a God who holds my hand.

Do I want to be Job? Do I want to be put to the test of my belief in His overwhelming love? No, I don't. But if and when I am, He is the One who holds my hand, not the other way around, and He is the One who is able to lead me through whatever lies ahead.

Meanwhile, I need only listen to His voice, telling me which step to take next. And when I am distracted and puzzled and miss my turn while not long as I am committed to going where He wills, I can know He has already laid down the path for me, already wrought for me what must be accomplished, and trust that in His guidance, like the little grey screen that flashes upon my phone, *rerouting* will still get me to His end goal. 

I might not be the perfect friend or sister, the perfect medical student, the perfect Christ follower I want to be yet. But I am confident that He which hath begun a good work in me will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. And as I continue to learn how to follow, I can rest in the knowledge that He is the One who plans, He is the One who does, and He is the One who holds my hand.    


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