I would like to share a blog with you today from our Ministry Director of the Pastors’ Widows, Audra Smith.
I had a double mastectomy in October. It is now May, and my skin has still not healed. The right side is doing great, but the left side is being a real problem. Starting the day after surgery, necrosis started setting in. For four weeks, I spent two hours a day in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. For three months, I had to put nitroglycerin paste on my skin. We’ve tried frankincense, calendula, cocoa butter, massage… you name it. The skin just will not heal and it will not stretch. And the stretching is necessary if there is to be reconstruction.
So, every two weeks, my plastic surgeon has me come in and we try again. The right side always cooperates , but we sometimes make only a teaspoon of progress on that left side. The skin gets angry. The pressure is uncomfortable. I’ve been worried. I’ve gotten frustrated. I’ve even cried. But the sweet and patient nurse just reaches out and pats my arm, assuring me that we won’t give up, no matter how long it takes.
I’ve had some pretty serious emotional surgery recently, as well. An amputation of sorts. Healing has been tough! I’ve spent days, weeks and months so deep in grief, I thought I’d never make it out. My heart has been so broken — so scarred — that I’m not sure any amount of time could heal it. I’ve been angry. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve cried until there are no tears left. And often, I’ve resisted and resented the process.
The Gospels tell a story about a man with a withered hand who came to Jesus for healing. Jesus told him to stretch forth his hand. Really, Jesus? Don’t you know it’s impossible for him to stretch out a withered up, paralyzed hand? But then, isn’t that the point?! Jesus did all of the work! He just asked the man to be willing. The flexibility and strength were not his own, they were God’s. His part was willingness and obedience and trust. I think we call that “faith.”
I feel utterly incapable of the flexibility required of me in this season. I wish I were more like my right side, but I’m not. I’m afraid I more closely identify with the left. I’m stubborn and fragile and struggling to heal. The pressure is uncomfortable and I resist the stretching. Yet I know my spiritual surgeon is doing what is best, and that takes some cutting, some shaping and a whole lot of stretching. The good news is that I’ve got a really good physician, and He knows what He’s doing. He never cuts away without a reconstruction plan. He knows it hurts, this process of making me look like Jesus, but without the stretching, there can be no reconstruction.
I want what He wants. I want to be reconstructed into the image of His Son. I so badly want to stretch forth my withered heart! He is willing and able to do all the miraculous work in me, but I have a choice. I can be flexible and cooperative, allowing Him to have His way, or I can resist, making the process that much more painful and frustrating. There are days I feel so defeated that I think I’ll never be what He wants me to be; that I’ll never have enough faith to obey.
But then, my sweet and patient Savior stretches out His hand and reminds me that He won’t give up on me, no matter how long it takes.
I pray what Audra has shared with us will be an encouragement on our ministry journey knowing God always has a plan.