It's not a secret that I'm ill. I have Myalgic Encephalopathy or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome of which there are 250,000 other sufferers in the UK. It's an illness that has taken me completely out of my comfort zone and dumped me in a sea of emotions and pain that I didn't know existed, in a world I can't control.
Anyone who knows me, knows I like to plan. They also know I like to be in control of a situation. I had my five year plan so to speak, when I started university. I was going to train as a Nurse for 3 years, work for a year and then do the 18 month bridging course to Midwifery. Except I got ill in January 2010 with glandular fever, then got admitted into hospital again in March and then again in September. By the time I got out of hospital in September my health was on a downward spiral to where I am now, housebound and wheelchair dependent.
But you know what, I know that God still has a plan. That even on my worst days (and today has been pretty bad) when I'm feeling low and wondering whether I'll be stuck like this forever, I know that I can still count on God. My five year plan was something that I'd cooked up, I hadn't really prayed over it and I was confident that I could do it in my own strength. Having M.E is probably God saying 'hold on a second, what about my plan?!'
Psalm 37:4 says "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
It's important to note the differences between our own desires and God given desires. We need to make sure that they match up with the bible and keep in line with what we know the character of God to be.
I was thinking about what my God given desires were the other day. Was it just to get better and be able to go back to my course? Or was that my own desire (don't get me wrong I don't believe that God wants me to be ill, just that everything happens in his perfect timing). I was flicking through my notebook and I read something which I'd written about a year ago when I was doing bible study with my friend Hannah.
I wrote this "My desire is to have a home that is a safe haven for not just my family but for anyone who wants it. A home where the door is always open and the kettle is always on." And underneath I'd written 1 Peter 4:8-11
Now I had to look this up again but it says "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen."
I'd like to think of myself as a fairly sociable person, I'm at my best when I'm surrounded by my groups of friends. I also love to cook or bake and, aside for one or two disasters in the kitchen, I think I'm fairly good at it! This is something I've prayed over quite a lot and discussed with a couple of friends. I wanted to make sure that this was from God not me.
This is also something I won't be able to do in my current condition, I can't even wash my own hair let alone cook a meal. Yet rather than being disheartened this makes me excited about the future. If this is definitely from God, he's gonna have to give me a lot more energy to do it!
I might not be able to achieve my five year plan anymore. But I'm no longer worried about that. What my illness has taught me is that dependency on God is SO important. I've been able to have quiet times now that I never would have had before, probably even if I'd had the time. And because of all this, my relationship with God has grown deeper and stronger and I'm able to consider what HIS desires are instead of my own. I used to look at Psalm 37:4 and interpret it as, he will give me MY desires. When actually it's more like this; he will give me the desires of my heart, because my relationship with God is such that my heart is a reflection of his heart.
My friend Andrea has a great quote on her skype which sums it up pretty well "God's dreams for us reflect His heart. If we are not maturing in sync with his heart, how would we distinguish others-centred dreams from self-centred dreams"
I want my heart to be a reflection of God's heart, and my life to be a reflection of the life that Jesus led on earth. I want my desires to be God's desires and if it takes being ill for that to happen, then so be it =)