If you’re like me during the month of December you gather with friends and family and, inevitably, get to reminiscing about holidays past or just about anything else. Sometimes, we end up laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. Those are good times! And, there are other memories that are more respectfully solemn and wistful. I wonder what holiday memory has quickly surfaced in your mind even as you read these words.
As for me, the Christmas of 2003 is a memory I will never forget. No song or colorful light display could bring joy to my heart. I entered the season struggling with muscle weakness that affected my ability to walk and speak. The weakness caused me to fatigue so much so that even to bring food to my mouth and chew was an effort. It was a depressing time because I had no diagnosis and the neurologists were puzzled.
We were living in Cincinnati and planned to drive to Columbus on Christmas Eve to be with family for a couple days. We reserved a handicapped accessible room at a hotel so I could shower. I couldn’t step in and out of a tub without someone helping me to lift my legs. Both of our parents’ homes had very small bathrooms with tubs. My pride and shame of needing someone to help me shower and dress is what drove me away from staying with them.
When we arrived at the hotel, you can imagine my dismay when I found out that the promised handicapped accessible room was not available. This devastating news meant our only alternative was to stay at my in-laws house. This was the very thing I wanted to avoid. I felt vulnerable and defeated. I wanted to go back home. I cried out to God, “Wasn’t it was enough to bear the look on their faces as well as the questions that I had no answers for. Why this, too?”
I needed to override those emotions and re-focus. But how? I knew in my heart my perspective was distorted. There were things that were right with my body. I knew the only way to keep going was to recognize that everything is a gift from God. I may not have been walking properly or very far but I was still able to walk. I could see, hear, and speak even if the words were sloppy. I could smile. I could laugh. I needed to be brave despite what I was experiencing.
I wonder if you know someone who has faced an unexpected, unanticipated situation this year that has rocked their world. Through local and world news, we come face to face with women, men, and children whose lives have been irrevocably changed. Is it possible for them to be brave enough to keep going? Yes, because God is with us in it.
Brave enough to keep going is about maintaining a steady, fixed gaze on Jesus. It was his laser-focus on God that kept him walking the path all the way to the cross through to the resurrection. Jesus knows what you need to take the next step and the step after that. Whatever courage I can muster will always falter, but how much stronger I am when I lean on Jesus.
I made it through the Christmas of 2003 with the love of my husband, family, and friends. There would be many more days after that requiring courage, trust, and hope. In August 2005, I successfully completed six months of intensive therapy so I could walk and perform those essential activities like laundry and running the sweeper. You wouldn’t think that someone could look forward to that, but I sure did! Yet, the outcome is not the focus of this story. The important point is that in 2003 I couldn’t see what was in store for me in 2005. But, I intentionally chose to trust God one step at a time, one day at a time.
Even today, I have to decide if I’m brave enough to follow God. If I want to experience everything He has planned for me, I need to commit. What about you? Are you in need of courage to follow? To take the next step? Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but in the future you and I may need to be brave enough to keep going. When you ask for courage you can count on God answering that prayer!
The following verses* and encouragement statements sustained me during those difficult, dark days in December of 2003 and they sustain me today. I hope the Word of God fills you with courage, hope, and peace. Blessing and peace to you, Terri
Be thankful. Colossians 3:15
Deliver me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
God has given me a Spirit of power, love and
self-control – USE IT. 2 Timothy 1:7
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Help me receive the Spirit’s wisdom and revelation. Ephesians 1:17
Quietness and trust first, then I can hear His call.
Eagerly expect and anticipate God’s presence,
leading, counsel, and direction.
Know God delights in you and will open the way
if He delights in your steps. Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 18:19
Rely on God -- be bold, fearless, courageous
He has commanded you to do it. Joshua 1:9
God’s resources are unlimited! Romans 8:32
God reveals his plan in his perfect time.
God will fulfill his purpose for me! Psalm 57:2-3
*Many verses are paraphrased and come from the New International Version.