The Struggle To Obey

Right now I am in the midst of something I can’t quite explain. It is as though all the Yah has taught me over the past 2 years is now required to be put into practice. I am facing internal battles and external trials that has always existed, but that I am just becoming aware of or bothered by. It is as though my life is flashing before my eyes and I am faced with all that I have pushed to the back of my mind… My own faults, the faults of others, and things that bother me about myself and others are all rushing to the forefront for attention all at once.

The interesting thing about it all is that the conflicts that I have avoided in the past, I am no longer able to ignore. Yah is forcing me to deal with things that have apparently weighed me down and kept me imperfect. He is healing and perfecting me.

Another interesting thing is that, as he heals me, he requires that I initiate healing in those whom I have, in the past, avoided to confront about issues I have neglected to deal with. In other words, my healing requires me to help heal others.  In doing so, my imperfections are perfected.

So, this all has me thinking… Is it that our purpose in life is to heal even as we are being healed? When God speaks to us to help someone else, is he also challenging us that we too may be helped?

Last week God spoke to me about a family member. He said I needed to travel 8 hours away to help her. I had no idea how I could help someone with cancer on a weekend trip. I thought, “What difference can I possibly make?” Nonetheless, my sister and I took the trip on a Friday. On the way there, He told me I had to stay with her for 30 days. Unwilling to make the sacrifice, I pretended I didn’t hear his voice. Within 24 hours of getting to my cousin’s house, I realized that it wasn’t cancer that I was dealing with, but a spiritual condition that was even more deadly… One that I could possibly help to heal.  Contrarily, by Saturday night, I had given up. Frustrated with the power her condition had over her mind, we went home first thing Sunday morning without even saying goodbye.

Monday morning, I woke up troubled by my disobedience. My cousin was on my mind before I opened my eyes that morning. My soul reasoned with God to determine a course of action. How could I possibly help her? I got out of bed and went into my office and began to research and develop a course of action. Problem was, I could be willing to help, but I never questioned if she was truly ready and willing to be helped.

Still, I continued to contemplate her position and the true source of her condition. I realized that I had been observing her since childhood. She was like a sister to me, but our entire relationship had been spent with me trying (and failing) to be her conscience. When she acted out as a young girl, I recall her mother asking me to help her to be better. “Talk to your cousin, make her understand that what she’s doing isn’t right”, she’d say.  When she told a lie, I recall trying to convince her to tell the truth. When she talked down on herself, I encouraged her to love herself. When she felt ashamed, I reminded her that she was beautiful and had nothing to be ashamed of. All this while I had my own imperfections and insecurities that just didn’t seem as bad or as important to deal with at the time.

While still planning how I could help, I received a phone call. She was demonstrating self-destructive behavior and her family reached out for my help. The next call was to say she was being rushed to the emergency room by ambulance. My mind, already having been consumed with her condition, immediately began to seek ways to go and help her face to face. I recalled that I was supposed to be with her for 30 days and made arrangements to make that happen. By 5:00 pm that afternoon, I was on a flight to meet her.

It was when everything began going wrong that I realized I wasn’t only there for her, I was also there for me. My flight was grounded for over an hour while we waiting on the plain in the gate. When I finally arrived at my destination, I had no ride and no one was answering their phone. I later found out that her husband had gotten in a car accident on his way to get me from the airport. I arrived at the airport at about 10:20 that evening and at 1:00 am I was still stranded at the airport- cell phone battery dead, unable to get a rental car, and clueless about how to leave the airport.

At that point, I was nearing the point of a mental breakdown. I had never felt so vulnerable and helpless in my life. At nearly 1:30 that morning, I finally caught a cab and went to meet my ride at the scene of the accident. For the first time since I left my family crying at the airport, I did not feel completely helpless and alone. I remember telling myself throughout this ordeal, “I am not sure why, but this is exactly what I need. I am overcoming so many fears and anxieties right now. God has to have his hand on this situation.” At the same time, was kicking, crying, and screaming on the inside.

When we finally got back to their house, an hour away from the city I had flown into, I considered why I was there. I did not know what I had truly hoped to accomplish. I did, however, understand that it wasn’t all about my cousin. Rather, it was also about my own spiritual hold-ups. My own anxieties and fears that keep me from being obedient to the voice of God.

When people found out what I had done, they deemed me certifiably crazy to have made such a sacrifice. As a matter of fact, when I woke the next morning and realized my birthday, anniversary, Passover, and the Feast of Firstfruits would all be spent away from my family, I deemed myself temporarily insane. Still, I understood that God saw fit to cause me to literally forget about my own needs and desires in exchange for someone else’s wellbeing.   That didn’t stop my heart from melting, but I was willing to carry out that sacrifice understanding it to be the will of God. For once, I was going to listen to Him without compromise.

It only took four days for me to give in to my fears and anxieties. The feeling of helplessness that I experienced at the airport when I was alone in a strange place and nothing seemed to work in my favor returned multiplied. My cousin was in a bad place, doubting even the mere existence of a God and speaking insanities and obscenities about anyone and anything that tried to act in her best interest when she could not. I felt an inconsolable pain that left me crying all day, jumpy at every loud sound, afraid that I would have to, yet again, confront the adversarial spirit that had come over her.

I had spent about three and a half days telling the hard truths that no one else wanted to confront. Saying the stuff that I dreaded saying to anyone, let alone this person whom I loved dearly. It was exhausting and painful. Finally, she had broken. It seemed she had completely lost her mind by the time I left and came back home on day five. Little did she know, it had also taken a great toll on me. I felt (and still feel) like I am dangerously close to breaking down.

All this, as I struggle to understand why we lack instant healing power. Why is her family continually and so easily destroyed by this adversarial spirit that has consumed her life, while the God-power I came to share with her seems slow working and easy to be doubted? Not that I doubt, but that I know if others could see God work like he did in the Messiah, many more would believe and have faith. Many more could be saved from such powers as the one that was destroying her and her loved ones.

My 30 days aren’t up. Although I tried to escape my duty to God’s will by coming home and running from the hurt and discomfort of facing the one whom she had given the power to destroy her,  I still wake up with her struggle on my mind. I dream of ways to help her heal and my heart aches because I still feel helpless.

Nonetheless, I am also hopeful… Hopeful that the time  I spent is not in vain. That the prayers I prayed bare fruit and that, at a minimum, my limited obedience would produce some fruit.

Friday night, almost exactly 7 days later, I returned grateful for all of my family who was here. Thankful to God for having mercy on me despite my disobedience, and hopeful that my sacrifices, although incomplete, would manifest healing in my cousin and her family. I also returned home knowing that I fall short of perfection and that God is not done with me yet. I have the self-realization that I am still limited in the amount of sacrifice I am willing and able to endure. I now know that I must master endurance…  That while I am willing to die for God, I am not able and willing to live and endure for Him and that must change.

So as my cousin, now in a better state of mind, thank me and ask my forgiveness, I am wise enough to thank God for using her to reveal my spiritual condition and ask Him to forgive me!

We all have work to do… Most of us are avoiding something that scares the life out of us. My spiritual dilemma is fear that despite my greatest effort and strong convictions, I will fail God.  It is a fear that causes me to run when things become uncomfortable or painful. This in and of itself is evidence of my own lack of faith. Yet, it demonstrates my willingness to take a step towards complete faith. Something that we must all master in God’s time. The important thing is to consider all things as we deal with each other to bring forth healing and to break the chains of bondage among God’s people.

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