Fear. That’s what I lived with last week. A fear that that shook me to the core. And Satan had a field day.
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It started on Tuesday with Kelly’s visit to the orthopedic surgeon. Since going through chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) last year and being in remission for almost a year, he has suffered unexplained pain in his ankles, knees, and left shoulder. The news from the doctor wasn’t bad in and of itself — a partial tear in the muscle in his shoulder, a tear in the labrum, and signs of arthritis which are a little advanced for a man of fifty. Dr. Newman feels like physical therapy will be of great help in managing the pain and he didn’t recommend surgery. Our question was, could Kelly return to work in law enforcement and be able to pass the Police Officer‘s Physical Assessment Test (POPAT) that is required by NCSU Campus Police policy? Dr. Newman said not immediately, but in time perhaps Kelly could go back. He wants to check on the problems that Kelly is having with other joints. It’s a wait-and-see kind of thing.
But, we had no time to wait and see. Kelly’s job had been open at the NCSU Campus Police Department for over eighteen months. Since this is not an on-the-job injury, the university needed an answer about his future employability. Kelly had a decision to make: return to work by today, April 23rd, (and be able to pass the POPAT in two weeks’ time) or the university must begin to separate him from employment. (Which is a fancy way to say “We’re relieving you of your duties. You no longer have a job.”)
Although Kelly is on extended short-term disability at the present time, it’s a not a guarantee for him after August of this year. He’s five years away from retiring in law enforcement and after twenty-five years of service to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and NCSU Campus Police, I saw the pain of this realization in his eyes. And it made me so angry.
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My anger was like a bull fresh out of the gate at the rodeo. I bounced around the ring, exploding on everybody that came in contact with me. I had a huge argument with Kelly. I ignored Claire. I railed against NCSU and how cruel they were being to a faithful employee who didn’t ask to get sick. I couldn’t even bring myself to call my parents and explain what was happening because I wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t be caught on the savage horns of this anger that just kept swelling and writhing inside me. When I sat down to write my posts on Wednesday and Friday, I had nothing. No good word was sent my way. It was as if I had never written a single thing in my life. I was blind with rage and in no condition to share anything with anybody. God knew this. In retrospect, it was a good thing that He withheld His words from me.
So, last Friday night, I let God have it with both barrels:
“So, you brought Kelly through the cancer only to send us to financial ruin. Is that how it is, God?” I yelled this aloud to an empty living room because no one in my family could stand to be around me.
And God whispered, “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)
“Do you even care what we’re going through? Do you not see how much we are hurting? What is going to happen to us?” I whimpered as the tears began to stain my cheeks.
And God whispered, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5b, NLT)
I fell on my knees and raised my hands to the sky, crying, “What am I supposed to do, God? We’re stretched financially just about as far as we can stretch. What do you expect me to do?”
And God whispered, “I expect you to do nothing. I will handle it all. I’ve told you before: Trust in [Me] with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek [My] will in all you do, and [I] will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)*
By this time, I was so weary from the weight of my fear, all I could do was cry. I cried because there were no words for the pain.
And God whispered, “Come to me, [Sandy] you [are] weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)*
I promise you, I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit surround me. It felt like a hug. The tears subsided and I suddenly felt the shame of losing my faith — of not believing God. I begged Him for forgiveness and the heavy weight of the fear lifted. In its place, God gave me this feeling of calm. Suddenly, I knew that everything was going to be all right. I can’t tell you how I know this, but as Joyce Meyers loves to say, “I know that I know that I know that I know.”
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I keep a journal for each family member and for my church, community, nation, and world. It is my habit to find Scripture and write them into a prayer in the notebook of the person for whom I’m praying. I picked them up and thumbed through them. Did you know that each Scripture God used to answer me during my little meltdown was Scripture that I had prayed for someone else during the past month? Now, that’s a “God-incident” if I ever saw one!
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The writer’s block that the fear had created dissipated over the weekend. God reminded me of Matt Redman‘s “Never Once.” (I’m pretty sure God wants this to be my theme song for the time being.) Matt once said that this song came to him spontaneously at a time of great transition for him and his family. He had just sold his house in Atlanta, Georgia and the entire family was moving to England. His future was uncertain and yet, the words to this marvelous praise song came to him and he sang them in the middle of a living room devoid of furniture and walls that echoed back the chorus, “You are faithful, God, You are faithful.” It speak volumes about trusting God in the unknown because He’s been with us through every valley, every stuggle and proven Himself to be faithful in every circumstance. It describes this season of my life perfectly.
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Over the weekend, I realized that NCSU is only doing what they have to do to run a business (and it is a business that sometimes must function by rules that might seem unfair). Please don’t start a letter-writing campaign to NCSU — we believe we are fully in God’s will now. I find a great deal of comfort in the fact that the folks in Human Resources are fully prepared to go to bat for Kelly where his disability is concerned. In further conversations with the Chief today, Kelly found that if he’s cleared for duty, he can re-apply to work at the university again.
But that may not be God’s plan. Other people have approached Kelly about possible job openings that are right here in Fayetteville so that he wouldn’t have to make the hour drive to and from Raleigh several days a week. One of these jobs is law enforcement-related. Kelly is qualified to do this job and there are people in position to help him get hired, if it’s God’s will.
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I don’t have any more answers than I did when I went temporarily insane last week. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. And that’s okay because my God is faithful and He’s given me His peace over whatever this season in our lives may bring. I can truly say, “You have brought us thus far, Lord.”
“Never Once” (Matt Redman) http://youtu.be/e02UNZRsdSQ
*All substitutions in these verses of Scripture are mine.
Related Articles: “Face Your Fear” http://morninggloryinspirations.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/face-your-fear/
“Prayer of the Broken Vessel” http://breadforthebride.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/prayer-of-the-broken-vessel/