IMG_190131 Days Walking Through Chronic Illness

day twenty three

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Matthew 17:20 NLT

Throughout this process of peeling off the layers of my story, living in the daily~ness of chronic illness, I have received many encouraging words.

I have been transparent, baring each place of tender and bruised vulnerability. Laying the covering of pride on the ground. Allowing glimpses of the ungraciousness of losing one’s dignity and independence.

Uncovering hidden places I buried deep, not wanting to worry those I loved. Those who have walked along beside me.

Finding a place of deep strength and peace that can only come from a good and gracious God. The God, who tenderly met me in the deep and dark and scary places with his grace.

Desiring for the weary soul to find that same strength and peace. And grace.

I heard Beth Moore once say, “that when you have been graced by God, you cannot withhold grace from another.”

This journey for me, is about pointing you, the one walking the hard edges of life towards the Grace that will meet you there. In your place of need. Your place of aloneness. Your darkest hour.

Your words have been generous of praise. Praise that is undeserved.

There is a flip side to this story. The ugly side, one I would much prefer to cover with a bandaid and pretty words.

In my illness, my dependence on him, there was never, has never been any doubt. Faith, that cannot be generated by oneself. Faith, that can only be infused into the heart through His Spirit.

It was not without wrestling. Many a “holy temper tantrums” complete with stomping feet. I have slung (in the south we are known to sling a fit not throw one) a fit or two. Even three or four.

It is in the far edges of my life, however, I hold back. That thing that lurks beyond the edges of chronic illness.

The last place I struggle for control, yet is completely out of my reach. A place I am prone to hoover and give in to worry and fear.

The outcome of it all, not near close enough for me to grip. I cannot change it, nor can I fix it.

There, I dig and dig through the dirt of my heart, searching for the tiniest hint of a mustard seed of faith.

The edge of our village, where this all takes place.

My prayers, they box Him in. Giving lists and advice of how I imagine it to work out, wanting it all to turn out right and good.

When in truth and life, that is not realistic. I may be asked to accept the hard, walk the stony, thorny path there as well.

That’s the part of me I hold back. Hold out on. Hang on to.

I am amazed in the physical hard of chronic illness and the frailty of my body, giving up resistance and walking in faith was the least of my struggles.

I am often asked if it was hard to give up running. The answer is always the same, not when you have to.

My only choice was to run straight into the arms and onto the lap of God.

But over there, just at the edge of my village, I struggle.

A while back, I read Emily P. Freeman’s book Simply Tuesday. In it she speaks of having faith as tiny as a mustard seed, researching and describing the plant itself.

Her research uncovers this: “Mustard can easily become a garden pest because it self-sows readily. Don’t plant in your most formal areas, and take care to harvest all the pods before the seeds scatter. Once the seeds drop to the ground, you’ll have a tremendous weed problem that could take years to correct.”

“This surprises me,” she shares, “I would have thought a seed Jesus compares to the kingdom of God would have better manners. Everything I read about the mustard plant says it grows easily and without much care. If you plant it in your garden, it can quickly take over. It grows where it is whether you want it to or not, stretches beyond the boundaries you set for it, unruly and untamed.” 

For today, as I walk through the daily~ness of chronic illness, I pray that God would increase my faith, give me courage and boldness, and trust in His equipping of energy in my frailty.

As for the other thing, lurking in the outer fringes of our village, I pray that small mustard seed would grow and stretch beyond the boundaries of my own feeble faith. Unruly and untamed, loosening the thin threads of control.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn