Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Faith Lessons from a Steak Knife

I have written most of my essays for seminary. And though I’m not finished, I’m not feeling so overwhelmed about it now. I think I need to visit the campus before I’ll be able to finish one essay, and the remainder is resume stuff that I can do in fits and spurts: what areas of Christian leadership I’ve been involved in, campus activities I was part of in college, and my employment record. And then, I’ll submit it. Oh my!

In the meantime, we are really just feeling overjoyed and excited lately. There is so much to be hopeful for. I suppose there always was, but we had lost that excitement of trying to conceive and now it’s back–for the moment. I hope treatment works and works quickly! And we are so very grateful that God has given man this ability to research and find ways to overcome medical challenges. I am so glad he has not withheld from us even these good gifts of medical science.

Last Thursday we had small group to our house for dinner. I love hosting our group (we take turns), but last week was a busy week and I was feeling frazzled. This time I had started early and I was determined to have dinner ready by 7:00. I had from scratch tomato soup in the crockpot (best recipe ever), butter melting on the stove for a roux to add creaminess to the soup, and an assembly line for baked grilled cheese sandwiches (on gluten-free bread for me!) with avocados, tomatoes, and bacon laid out on the counter. The stove had just told me that it was preheated and ready to go. With about twenty minutes before small group was supposed to start–and with my husband still not home from work–I started chopping a frozen stick of butter with a steak knife to fit it in a small bowl to melt so it could be spread on the bread. And then–OUCH! I am not sure why the knife slipped, but I felt the injury before I suspected anything was amiss. I looked down to see a bloody gash on my left index finger.

Now, I can give a shot with expert precision and usually not even feel it. I’m perfectly comfortable reading biological research papers on gamete¬†development, reproductive anomalies, surgical procedures, and hormone functions. I can discuss with doctors all manner of surgical procedures, results of blood work, and what they may be looking for. But friends–when I saw that blood on my finger, I about passed out. The room started spinning and I felt so very hot and I knew I had to snap out of it and get moving.

I ran to the sink and held my finger under cold water for a while. I pinched it together to close the wound, but as soon as I let go, the blood just kept coming out.

I managed to move to the bathroom, where I cleaned the wound properly and bandaged my finger–probably a little too tightly–to stop the bleeding. I called DH and fussed a little about it, because I knew he’d talk me up off the floor and get me back to the kitchen. He did.

By the time I got back to the stove, my butter was burned. I dumped it and started over. And dinner was a bit late. Well, a lot late. We didn’t sit down to eat until 7:40. I love my small group. They didn’t mind. Didn’t bat an eye at the tardy meal, and we had a great meeting anyway.

Later that night, I unwrapped my finger, cleaned it again, and changed to a bandage that wasn’t cutting off the circulation of my fingertip. I checked it and felt sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room or anything.

As DH and I were snuggled into bed Thursday night, after we’d prayed together, I lay there a moment thinking to myself, huh… we didn’t pray that my finger would heal. And I knew why I didn’t ask God to heal my finger. It’s because I trust, and have no doubt whatsoever, that my finger will get better. That’s part of God’s design for us–cuts can heal themselves. What an amazing thing. And this is something I have taken for granted. I thanked God for healing my finger and fell asleep.

In my prayers, I often want the quick fix. The miracle fix. The supernatural fix. And maybe sometimes that means I’m missing out on what God is doing in the natural, how God is changing my circumstances even without any drama or fanfare.

The next day–really the next few days–my finger was sore. It was painful. And I expected it to be. Although I knew God would heal me, I didn’t wake up Friday morning or Saturday morning or even this morning and find that my finger had ¬†been magically put back together without any time or waiting or effort. I am typing this now with a little medical tape still wrapped around the finger, giving it a little protection from the keys and the germs and keeping it from splitting open again while it is still vulnerable. But even as I am waiting, I don’t feel any less sure that my finger will be healed.

And I think this is faith. I have faith that my finger will heal. And I don’t know if I have that kind of faith for everything. But I want to. I want to have this kind of faith–this certainty, really–that what God has promised will be. I have this faith for my salvation. I really have no doubt that I am forgiven. But I don’t know if I feel as sure about the things that aren’t as straightforward as cut skin or the gospel message. Do I believe God is using me for his glory today? Do I believe that he has ordained my path for a reason? Do I believe that he is working all things for my good?

Some days are better than others.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

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Because of Infertility

Years after the car accident–the one she was in as a six-year-old that took her sister’s life–Shelly still suffered from survivor’s guilt. It came and went over the years, but the idea that she should have at least suffered physically, instead of walking away from the wreck, haunted her.

At one point, when she’d thought she had finally gotten past the lingering effects of the accident, Shelly began to have terrible dreams. Night after night she would awaken after seeing herself maimed and injured, but never killed, in her dreams.

As she was walking across her college campus one day after a particularly vivid dream, she felt God speak clearly to her. He first reminded her that she was physically fine. None of these things in her imagination or thoughts from her subconscious had happened. But what he followed with is why I’m telling this story:

Think, he said, If you were maimed or severely injured, think of the people you would be able to reach for me and for my glory that you cannot connect with currently. Think of the great work I would have for you that you would be able to accomplish because of–not in spite of–such a physical challenge.*

She thought about it and laughed. Of course God was right. Of course he would be able to use anything that happened in her life for good and for his glory. At the realization, as this sunk in, she says she felt her spirits lift. A burden of worry and a weight of fear were lifted.

And the dreams stopped. To this day–and she has grown children now–she has not had nightmares or feelings of survivor’s guilt.

Sitting above the Clouds, Inca Trail, Peru

I think the lesson translates as easily to infertility as to any other struggles that we, through our human eyes, see as hindering our ability to be successful or happy. I know there are things I do because of infertility that I wouldn’t be able to do if I’d gotten pregnant right away. God can use me in a way I never would have expected because I haven’t been able to have children. Especially if I’m willing to surrender and listen to him.

God will use us in the shape we’re in. And he will use the imperfections, the challenges, the pain, the heartaches in our lives to use us in different and better ways. He will truly work all things to the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.

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*There are no direct quotations from God in this post. I’m paraphrasing from a second-hand source. But I did my best to recreate what I heard and stay true to the point of the message.

Shelly told this story to a group of women in a Bible study through my church. She told it, and many other stories from her life and other’s lives, because faith stories build faith, as she said. And she graciously gave me permission to share this story here.