Mystery and Clarity

By the time Cyndi got home from Mansfield, where she attended our daughter’s baby shower, as well as returning our granddaughter to her rightful owners after a fun-filled week at Grand and Pop’s house, it was about 9:00 PM Sunday night. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel well. I had deep chills and had to concentrate not to shiver in front of Cyndi. And my joints were beginning to ache. I felt way too bad to enjoy my reunion with Cyndi in the way I’d been hoping for all day.

And it was my birthday. It didn’t seem fair.

Cyndi said my skin was almost too hot to touch (another problem in my planned reunion), even as I huddled under the covers to stay warm. She was grabbing for cool, free air. It was a complete role reversal for us.

I doubt I slept more than 30% of the night, although they say you always get more sleep than you think you do, even among all the tossing and turning. All night long I wondered what was happening to me. Was I getting sick? I had weekend plans to attend a retreat in Michigan, something I’d been looking forward to for weeks. Surely I wouldn’t get sick.

Monday morning as I was dressing for work, I remembered the last time this happened, in September 2003.

On that occasion the problem began when I was out running one Tuesday evening. I could feel my heart pounding and a tight pressure in my chest. It was scary. Later, when I met Cyndi at Rosa’s for dinner, I couldn’t eat because I was so worried. I didn’t know how to tell her what I was feeling since I’d rather die of a heart attack than let her think I was a hypochondriac.

I slept fretfully all night, and whenever I woke up, all I could think about was spiritual attack, as if God was warning me there was more to this. I was headed to Colorado to attend a Boot Camp, where I fully expected to meet with God. I didn’t want to be sick or hurting.

And now, ten years later, the story felt all too familiar. Was this another spiritual attack? Do they always come like this?

I don’t know enough about spiritual warfare to answer a question like that. But I do believe there will be more mystery and uncertainty on my pilgrimage than I expected in my early years.

There is a great story in John 9 about mystery and clarity, about Jesus and a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus healed this man, but He did it in a very unchurchy, undignified way. He spit on the ground to made mud, and put that mud on the man’s eyes.

I don’t think Jesus politely smeared a faint brown smudge across the man’s eyelids, I think Jesus made a handful of mud and put a gob of it right on the man’s face. That takes a lot of spit, and it must have been a shocking sight to see. I wonder why no one ever painted a picture of Jesus spitting on the ground to make mud?

But the man was blind, so he didn’t know about the spit or the mud. Also, He trusted Jesus completely. How do I know this? Because of what he did next. Jesus told him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash his face, and the man did it. He just did it without questioning. He was still blind, his prayers had not been answered, but he followed Jesus’ instructions.

Erwin McManus (Seizing Your Divine Moment) wrote, “When Jesus commanded the man to go to the pool to wash, to leave with his prayers unfulfilled, with his needs unmet, with his questions unanswered, in many ways he left in a worse condition than before. He was a blind man with mud caked on his face moving further away from the only One who could help him. If he had refused the journey, he would have lost the miracle.”

McManus asked, “How many of us are sitting in front of God with mud on our faces waiting for God to heal us? How many of us have said to God, “Heal me first, and then I’ll go”?”

I’m not the guy who sees spiritual attack behind every misfortune, and I hesitated before writing this story. I suppose I expect to skip happily along my spiritual path toward God, which means I’m always surprised when attack comes.

Maybe Jesus is sending me on a journey where things will become muddy before they become clear, where I’ll spend uncomfortable sleepless nights before finding clarity. Or maybe He simply wants me to trust Him before He heals me again.

Well, two days later, I feel much better. I have my stuff packed and my journal and Bible and projects gathered. Who knows, I may get sick again, but my heart is ready and my soul is hungry.

QUESTION: Have you felt a spiritual attack before a big weekend? How did you know what it was?

“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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