Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Awakening

The other night I awoke with a start around 3 am, and sat up on the edge of the bed. As I was sitting there, trying to get my bearings, something slapped across my thigh, feeling heavy and cold, but unrecognizable. It took me a little while to realize it was my own arm! It was basically paralyzed. Apparently the way I had been laying had cut off the circulation to the brachial artery and my arm was completely numb from about mid-triceps down - so numb that I could not even tell I was touching my own leg! I tried to move my hand (and thought I was moving it) but it really was not responding at all. So I sat there for a few minutes, wanting a drink of water, but not sure whether to just go back to sleep and forget it or try to revive my right arm.

And then I felt it! Oh my goodness, the sharp, stinging of a million needles all at once centered around my wrist as I had moved my leg and my wrist had bumped it. Suddenly, I just wanted to hold my arm as still as possible to avoid the inevitable pain that was coming. As I sat there, needing to get up, but not wanting to move, I was faced with the decision to just wait for feeling to return to my arm, help it along to get it over with, or just hold it as still as possible and hope I could go back to sleep. I opted for the "rip the band aid off" approach.

I started using my left hand to move my right arm. (which in itself is very awkward) Oh my goodness the pain that ensued! You would think having two children, I wouldn't be such a wimp, but there is something excruciating about those moments when feeling returns to a limb that is asleep, if you know what I mean. I could literally feel the blood start pumping through my arm and as it traveled down my arm, leaving in its wake razor-sharp needle stabs of pain. I needed to get it over with, so I began shaking my arm like crazy. Good thing my husband is such a deep sleeper, because he probably would have thought I was being attacked by a squirrel or something, the way I was sitting there shaking out my arm! I shook and twisted and banged my arm against my leg or other arm all the while taking gasps of breath from the crazy shooting pains.

It had to be at least 15 minutes of lots of pain and writhing before it finally started to subside into a dull ache.(okay, maybe it was just 5 minutes but it sure felt longer!) At that point,  I started making a fist repeatedly to get my fingers to work again by pumping blood back into them (like they do when you give blood). Gradually my hand did not seem like it was a swollen, useless mess, but felt more normal.  I sat there recovering for a minute, almost scared to move. I think I was afraid it secretly was asleep again and if I moved, it would all start over again. Eventually, I got up, grabbed a drink of water using my newly revived right hand, and headed back to bed. As I laid down, (very carefully to be sure my arm was not tucked under me this time), a thought struck me about how similar this silly event was to where I had been spiritually lately. God ever-so-gently gave me a nudge to write again for the first time in quite a while. 

You see I love God and I love getting to know all about Him. I've known Him for a long time as my personal Savior, but I am not sure I treasured the relationship for a long time. In my Spiritual walk, I have had the many ups and downs; obvious hills and valleys of life. There have been times when I have been so close to God that I felt his breath over me and there have been times that I have moved away from Him to do my own thing (always to come running back). There have even been times where I longed to feel His presence but instead I just felt lost and confused and it took a while for me to find Him in the midst of the mess. But lately, for the last few months, I have just sort of been dull; not really close to Him, not really moving away from Him. I have been involved in a regular Bible study but have not really been pouring myself into it. I am still serving at my church and attending regularly, but mostly because that is just what I do; what I've always done. What I have not been is very connected to the relationship that I know is a vital part of my life. It is as though I have been asleep; maybe a bit numb, even possibly starting to be cut-off from the main artery.  I am not sure if you can relate at all, but I am hoping I am not the only one out there. I haven't been terrible or doing anything I would consider to be detrimental, but on the flip side, I have not been doing anything helpful or working toward building my relationship with Christ. 

Here is where God enlightened me to the connection. If we stay disconnected for any length of time, we become numb, almost paralyzed, to His work in our lives and the lives around us. It may not even be intentional. I did not set out to lay in such a way that my arm would fall asleep, but I did happen to be in a certain position and did not move from that spot, or wake up before it was numb. He cannot use a numb/ paralyzed Christ follower like He longs to do. He loves us and wants to be able to use us for the work we are designed to do, therefore He must "wake" us up! 

Trust me, an awakening is not always pleasant! In fact it is often full of sharp pains and stabs of conviction. He will use circumstances, people or whatever is around us to make staying still in our paralyzed state more painful and uncomfortable than the alternative; He wants it to be impossible for us to stay in that numb state.  Sometimes, God will even shake us violently and what seems to be uncontrollably in order to get the blood flowing again...the saving, precious blood that was given freely for our sins by His Son! 

In the midst of that awakening, I can honestly say I have wanted to cry out in pain. There have been times that I felt like the twists and turns, frustrations and disappointments, were so overwhelming that I thought things would never be "normal" again. And then the awful sharp pains gave way to a dull ache as He began to clench His fist tightly around my heart to get the blood flowing again. Before I know it, all becomes right again and I am ready to be used for the work He has specially designed just for me! I just have to be careful not to "lie down" in the same way as before and become numb to His will in my life. 

That night, I knew God was telling me that I had better move myself before it got to the point that He needed to shake me awake. I smile now thinking of the image of me flopping around while God shakes the blood back into me. I know God has big plans to use me for His Kingdom. I don't know what those are, but I know I can't become dull, numb and disconnected, or I will miss opportunities to be closer to Him and to be used by Him. 

Romans 13: 
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [g]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. 

and 

II Corinthians 4:
 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

It is the hour for us to awaken from sleep through the power of God! I am excited to see how God uses His power to further His Kingdom and how He generously allows me to participate! All I need to do is stay "awake" and focus on my relationship with Him.

Awakened to life with Christ,
Stephanie