PART TWO: IT GETS PERSONAL
I think balance is a hard thing to master. Mum dying was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. For a long time, it was the most painful lesson on faith I’ve had to learn. And then the experience became even more personal.
In 2013, I had a stroke. I’ve written about this before, and I don’t want to harp on, but regarding ‘faith’, it remains my greatest learning curve. Suddenly, Mum dying seemed (though sad) an easy thing to understand. What I struggled to understand was why my life had been upended, why everything I thought was a God-given gift on my life had seemingly disappeared, why my analytical thinking had taken such a beating that I couldn’t even make sense of making my children vegemite sandwiches as they asked. I was so angry and felt confused.
Now that shook my understanding of ‘faith’! It was hard to say, “God, can You please fix me, but if not, it doesn’t matter!” Because you know what? It mattered! It mattered a lot. I desperately wanted to be ‘normal’. I wanted to breathe without feeling like there was a huge rockmelon in my throat.
That can still be hard. If I’m honest, I still struggle with a little bit of bitterness sometimes. My soul’s learning to take a back seat, but it can, at times, be guilty of being a back-seat-driver, yelling out its objection to the way I’m going, despite not having the control. Unchecked while my body suffered, my soul turned on me. It started to scream, “WHY ME! This isn’t FAIR!”, all the while keeping a friendly smile on my face when responding to the question “And how are you Cassie?” with “I’m great, and you?”
Interestingly enough, in a meeting with Pastor Brendan, I made some passing comment about how I hadn’t asked for a miracle because I knew it wasn’t about that. To which he responded, “But you can still ask. Make your requests to God! Believe without a doubt that God can!” The key was not in the asking; it was in the holding Him ransom to my request. I suddenly saw that my life had been a pendulum swinging to and fro between faith-FILLED and faith-LESS. I lived in both extremes: blind-faith and no faith. I hadn’t once stopped from rolling to and fro to lay down on a grace-bed and rest.
After I started changing my confession, it wasn’t long before my physical world improved.
The defining moment for me was a conference. Like Mum in her ‘conference experience’ decades earlier, I’d become desperate for an experience with God. But there wasn’t one. I had come to a crossroads. I felt completely gutted, empty, alone. Standing amongst thousands of other women singing, ‘What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus!’, yet my tongue wouldn’t move because I was no longer convinced He was powerful, wonderful, beautiful. Now, this may be a bit gross, particularly for you men, but I was reminded of the birth of my children. Those final moments of trying to get out of the bed and call it quits! There I was, standing in the auditorium, so frustrated, wanting to go home and throw in the towel, when Pastor Bobbie Houston stood on the stage and said a passing comment: “It’s like we’ve got a theme this week about giving birth!” At that moment, I felt like a midwife was yelling a final “PUSH!” I closed my eyes, lifted my hands and shouted praise to God, and at that moment it became apparent to me: I had given birth to a new ‘something’! It was small, it was tiny, and I didn’t know what would become of it, but at that moment, I stood with a tear-stained face knowing He makes all things new.
However, there still remains a thorn.
2 Corinthians 12:6-8The Voice (VOICE)
… To keep me grounded and stop me from becoming too high and mighty due to the extraordinary character of these revelations, I was given a thorn in the flesh […] I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish; and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. 10 I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.
I’m in a new season. Yet, if I may be sincere, I know there remains a thorn… but I’m thankful for it; it keeps me humble. Live long enough and you’ll get a ‘thorn’—no matter what. You’ll have something that hurts deep down. You’ll have something that you beg God to take away. It may be in your body, it may be in your mind, it may be in your soul. It may be a few things. Some may stay for just a little while, whereas others may hold on longer, perhaps even for life. The question you have to ask yourself in these moments is: Do you have faith? Real faith? True faith?
Let me pose a question: Is saying ‘God can’ the same as saying ‘God will?’ I don’t think so. I think this is the difference between someone who puts their faith in faith and simply a faith-filled believer.
Miracles never got someone saved; accepting JESUS did. How can God’s desire be on people who focus their attention on miracles, when our only focus ought to be Christ?
Daniel 3:16-18 (VOICE)
…the God we serve is able to rescue us […] But even if He does not […] we still will not serve your gods …