Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Usable Hours

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I’m happy to say that my pain has decreased. Yup. I’ll say it once more…DEcreased!

I can hardly believe it myself and am cautious . . but I am incredibly thankful! Endometriosis can go dormant with less hormones so as I wean off of the final treatments of hormones . . . I’m noticing a recognizable, consistent change - and I’m extremely grateful.

This break from continual pain is like sunshine after a storm, the warm crackle of a campfire that brings instant relief, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, the breathtaking view at the top of a mountain you’ve just climbed . . . you only appreciate it because moments before, it wasn’t there. It’s in the absence of something that we become grateful for its presence.

My doctor explained that now I have more “usable hours”.

I understood what he was talking about but I also knew that every “un-usable” hour, in that definition, has been made valuable by God. (I’ve met a new friend this past year who gets this! She lives with migraines and spends many hours in the dark– literally in the dark! She wrote an amazing piece called Treasures in the Darkness that you can read here .)

So the question that I’ve been pondering this past month is how will I use these hours? If you were given, let’s say, five more hours, full energy, per day, how would you use them? Since my pain is less in the morning, I can get up earlier without needing extra time. I don’t need to nap every day. I take less pain-killers, and I can stay up until midnight. That to me, is like gaining five more hours! Last night, 11pm, I went on the treadmill for 10 minutes and did about 5 very weak, uh, realistic sit ups and push ups. Just a few. But I began to have a glimpse of what life could be like if this continued. I feel an excitement growing but also a responsibility to figure it out, pros and cons, make a plan, come up with goals and strategies. I don’t want to get it wrong. I want to use this gift of health well. I want to know what I don’t know so that I can plan . . .

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This past week I read that maybe I don’t need to know those answers.

Mark Galli, in his AWESOME book Jesus, Mean and Wild, writes, “Yes, God will give to those who seek, knock, and ask; he will fulfill our longings for wisdom and love–but only up to a point. To be human is to be finite and to have eternity placed in our hearts, which means we know that we will forever exist as finite beings, with infinity–that is, perfect fulfillment of all our longings–just out of reach.”

We long to be significant, to love and be loved, to live with purpose and find satisfaction. Galli writes, “That our questions will remain unanswered and our longings unfulfilled is precisely the glorious nature of heaven”. A. W. Tozer wrote, “The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its Source”.

Back to 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta, in my little living room . . . I have been given increased health, for a time, and I’m grateful. And yet, my heart longs for more . . . I’m asking, “How will I use these hours?”

Galli writes, “Jesus urges us beyond our closed, comfortable systems. He teaches us slowly, elusively, in a way that requires patience and searching and more patience. The kingdom is a continual growing, expanding, and deepening of infatuation, he says. It is not a puzzle to be solved or an answer to be given or a system to be explained. The kingdom is that infuriating and delightful thing we call an obsession, like golf, or we call joy, like an eternal falling in love”.

So this past week, I decided to wait in this longing, feel it, not fix it, and just do ordinary things. I cleaned the bathroom, worked on taxes, filed things, trimmed the dog’s nails, swept the driveway, took out the garbage, peeled carrots, cleaned the fridge. I didn’t gain any insight into my future plans, but my house got cleaned and I could sense my own heart being cleaned of its desire for attention and affirmation. I could see my desire to do exciting and significant things rising up and quieting down as I picked up a q-tip from behind the bathroom garbage can.

I still don’t know if there is any change in my future plans. I’m curious, but I understand more that it’s not really my business to figure it out. Pay attention? Yes. Surrender my plans to God? Yes. But figure it out? No, I don’t think so. My biggest imagination would not even come close to what God is up to!

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—What God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Heather HayashiComment