God in the Simple Things (Ros' Blog)
This week I have commissioned a guest blog from Mrs Sarah Marshall. Sarah was a student at the school where I was a teacher and I taught her from the age of 14 until she was 18. She became a Christian shortly before she joined my class, and I had the pleasure of watching her blossom in her new-found faith. Sarah writes:
In 2009 my world changed forever. I was diagnosed with Right Sided Complex Partial Temporal Lobe Seizures – or in other words Epilepsy. I had been a Christian 4 years, following God with vibrant passion. Things changed within a matter of months and I was told I was a ‘shadow of my former self’ according to friends and family. Many relationships broke down, even within the Church family, and I was misdiagnosed as having Depression. As the diagnosis was incorrect and the treatment was incorrect, I developed a cognitive impairment and severe memory loss. I found people distanced themselves, and started trying to counsel me about my illness every time they did see me.
At first my relationship with God suffered, and then to my surprise, it began to flourish. After my correct diagnosis and initial treatment I was home for around 8 weeks. Often I didn’t even pray, just short arrow like prayers to God ‘Help me today’ or ‘Show me yourself today’ and I began to experience something I had never seen before – the simplicity of God’s glory. I would start to notice the world differently, I’d see beauty in people as they were walking down the street, I loved to watch trees sway in the wind and watch the sunlight out of the window. This brought to me a new simplicity in my relationship with God; as He began to meet with me where I was, I was then able to feel free with my situation. I knew some things may get better, some may not. I lost my ability to read and write properly, but found 6 Bible passages gave me strength, and I repeated phrases from them over and over again.
- Let all that I am Praise the Lord (Psalm 103:16)
- I am like fragile clay holding treasure (2 Corinthians 7:7)
- He will transform my Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope (Hosea 2:15)
- That is why we never give up, though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed everyday (2 Corinthians 7:16)
- Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long (2 Corinthians 7:17)
- We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, those who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I started to see the world differently and enjoy different things. One of the challenges in our society is we want a quick fix. Our true character emerges when our internet is slow or we are on hold on the phone for what seems like an eternity! We like things to happen quickly. I started to take things slowly, and enjoy everyday life. All too often with Chronic Illness a quick solution is not the case, it can take months or years to recover fully, if at all.
What if we didn’t always see illness or disabilities as a negative thing? What if we grasped God’s agenda and pointed people towards the bigger picture, to the fact God is the centre of our history and His mission really is to make us more like Him?
In New Testament times when Church was brand new, they met in their homes and the Bible describes their situation that ‘There were no needy persons among them.’ (Acts 4:34) My impression from these passages is that they took care of one another, they took collections for the poor and ate together often. One of the best things I experienced when I was at home struggling to get out, was a member of our church just coming to sit on our sofa, not to talk about the illness, or do anything particular, just to sit, and listen. That in itself is refreshing. Is this simple caring and nurturing something we can do more in our local church?
In these years I have learned things that I would not have known if I was healthy. If I didn’t have epilepsy, I would have definitely excelled in the ways of the world, would have a career and good academic prospects, but I genuinely believe I wouldn’t have flourished spiritually as I have today. I found God in the most mind-blowing way – In the simplicity of Him meeting me ‘as I am’. I now have had my own family and my greatest achievement is the fact I can look after my own children at home without a Carer – something which at one point did not seem possible. Regardless of my health I have a level of contentment now that I didn’t even know was possible. My prayer for you would be that you would enjoy the simple things in life, and that this continues no matter what season comes your way!