Dennis' sermon on Hope and our anchor really brought back some memories to a hopeless time in my life. Nearly 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive and degenerative disease of the cornea, the front part of the eye. I immediately traveled to specialists throughout the south, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, and the result was always the same. In essence, the ordinary course of treatment did not work. Also, the contacts that would offer slight visual improvement caused painful corneal ulcers. In a nutshell, I found myself functionally blind and in extreme pain with an infant and a toddler. I was unable to drive, read bedtime stories, or even tell the difference between a snake or a stick in my backyard. We had to hire another woman to help care for my babies. Life was tough! I would close my eyes at night and "see" myself drowning in turbulent waves, going under and drowning, being overcome by those waves.
In a Bible study on the names of God, the Lord spoke to me. While studying Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals (Exodus 15:26), God whispered, "Sarah, you have too much pride." How could I have too much pride, I'm useless? Then he led me to James 2:22. “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Oh! In my angst and suffering, I'd never asked Him to help me; I'd never been able to admit my great need to Him or even to myself. Up until that moment, I thought living a Christian life meant being polished and shiny and perfect, working to make Him proud of me. But, no matter how hard I worked or tried, I could not see; I could not work out my blindness! He also told me that yes, I was physically blind, but my real problem was spiritual blindness. In my spirit, that's where the real healing needed to happen.
After that gut-wrenching encounter, He did not let me go; He led me to more and more profound truths. I learned that “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:22). Through my physical "darkness," He illuminated the darkest parts of me; He illuminated my sin and my need so that He could become my source of perfection.
In the physical realm, Jehovah-Rapha provided too. William and I were able to travel to a specialist at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angles, California. And I'm so happy to say that after many trips and many eye procedures, my functional sight has improved. It's not perfect, but it's all I need.
During one of those trips to have an eye procedure, William and I found ourselves with a day to kill. I said that I wanted to go for a walk on the beach. (For those of you who know me, that request makes perfect sense. A walk on the windy, sandy beach in the sunniest place on earth while missing the top layer of my cornea!) On our walk, I found a small, beautiful, blue-green piece of beach glass. Later God let me know that He put the beach glass in my path for a reason. You see, while beach glass is beautiful and valuable, it starts as litter, broken glass bottles. God showed me that my life was represented by that broken bottle and that little piece of treasure it became. In life, situations inevitably "break our bottles." I thought my Christian duty was to furiously glue my bottle back together, so the world would see me as together and okay. But, I was really just a cracked and leaking piece of junk. Until I yielded to the storms and gave Him the broken pieces of my life, I was useless. Once I turned those broken pieces over to the Lord, He tumbled me; He softened me, and He turned me into something valuable. I’ll never be the same.
He also zoomed out on my original vision of me drowning in the waves. I was missing the bigger picture. In the bigger picture, the waves were still huge and scary and washing over me, but He was holding me up and keeping me from drowning. Without the illumination of my spirit, I just couldn't see Him.
So now, we find ourselves in a stormy sea of uncertainty, uncertainty about health, the economy, personal freedoms, and the list goes on. And oh, the waves look big! Life does not look perfect no matter how furiously we work to return to "normal." I encourage all of us to yield to this time, to admit our need and helplessness, to ask Him to provide for our needs, and to ask Him to illuminate our darkness. Jehovah-Rapha will not disappoint.