33. Worship = clearance = wisdom
Last year we took Jacob to an awesome place in North Yorkshire (where we used to live – hence the undeniable accent!), called the Forbidden Corner. It’s an incredible myriad of mazes, with a unique labyrinth of tunnels, follies and surprises created within a four acre garden. The whole backdrop is set in beautiful rolling countryside. It’s the type of place you can spend hours, sometimes getting lost, often squealing with delight at the unexpected things that suddenly appear. On a sunny day last August, we came away having received far more than we ever hoped or bargained for. As I write this, metaphorically it just reminds me of what the past few weeks have been like. The mazes have been how my mind has wandered and wondered with anticipation – what’s around the corner of each day? The tunnels are how I’ve dug deep into the secret passages of where God wants to take me to. The follies are the false whispers from an enemy trying desperately to trick me. The surprises are the joy of what God has revealed through it all.
As context, the past few weeks have been the toughest yet physically speaking. During this, I’ve never been more thankful that my mind is settled and my faith is locked. From the get-go, my mind has been set. My focus has been on what God wants to show me. But that’s easy to say and harder to do when a body is screaming for attention. I can’t maintain that perspective through willpower and gritted determination. The enemy prowls and tries to attack our minds with lies when we are at our most vulnerable. But one of the many surprises has been that, even when it hurts like hell, God’s power in me is greater still.
I am so incredibly thankful that before starting this journey, I was fit, both physically and spiritually. Boy, have I needed to draw on those reserves. At times, I’ve not had the strength to even pick up my bible, let alone read it. I’ve not been able to clear the fog in my head, let alone construct meaningful prayers. Walking from the bedroom to the kitchen felt like I’d run a marathon, let alone getting to Church. None of that has mattered. God still found a way.
In our conversations, He challenged me. And the outcome was one key decision. That whatever I felt in this body, whatever I felt in this soul (my mind, my will and emotions), my decision was to think and speak only about what I was thankful for. And I have so much to be thankful for - on that, I’d fill a book if I even scratched the surface.
From this place of gratitude, over the hours, days and weeks, despite what was happening to my body, the most wonderful things happened in my spirit. By focussing in this way, I was taken from it being about me, to the wonder of it being about God, for He is the source of everything I have to be thankful for. As it became about God, this worship enabled me to de-couple from the physical to such an extent, that it actually became irrelevant. In the grand scheme of what God was revealing, my perspective changed from all-encompassing attention on the physical, to it being a mere passing inconvenience. And with my eyes entirely on Him, this created a channel for Him to bring the richest revelations.
It’s worship that leads us to being able to tune into the wisdom of God. Why? Because when we’re out of the way, God has our undivided attention and can trust us with what He wants to reveal. These are the things we simply can’t spiritually hear, when we’re focussed on ourselves.
Wandering the maze and searching the tunnels has helped me to see something very, very clearly. Something i've intellectually understood, but never really known. It is this truth: I am not my body. My body is what houses who I am. I am my spirit. Being able to separate the two, particularly during times of the intense physical pain has been invaluable. It’s one of the reasons I can authentically now say, ‘I don’t have cancer’. Whilst it is in this body, it’s not in me. It doesn’t define me and it’s not mine to own. That doesn’t abdicate me from responsibility. God’s given me this body, so I need to do all the things I can to take care of it. But fundamentally, it will eventually be like dust. So, in the bigger picture of eternity, I choose to feed what does live on forever. What lives on forever is my spirit. And this will never die.
‘Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld his compassion? Then I thought, ‘to this I will appeal: the years when the most High stretched out His right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on your mighty deeds.’ Psalm 77 9-12 NIV