There is an old “Negro Spiritual” entitled “Give Me Jesus” that has always gripped my heart. The lyrics petition, “In the morning when I rise…when I am alone…& when I come to die…give me Jesus. You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.” Romans 8:32 promises us that God will be faithful to give us Himself: “He who did not spare His own son, but willingly gave Him up for us all-How will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”.
A friend who mentored me in my high school & college years said she had prayed throughout her life that God would do whatever He had to do to draw her near to Himself.” This has oft been my prayer. It seems my predispositions for pride & stubbornly clinging to control are great, for God has had to work with a strong hand in order to fulfill His promise to me. I have oft been like a tree bent over from the force of winds & storms, but He has sunk my roots down deep in His soil.
One thing He has used towards this end is a struggle with chronic pain & illness over the past several years. A genetic malformation of the spine & sensitive nervous system were later complicated with clumsy falls & accidents, the most severe of which was a collision with a buffalo.Yes, a buffalo. It wasn’t until almost ten years later my nerves responded hyperactively to destroy sixty percent of my hearing, cause frequent migraines & set the nerves throughout my body on fire. Though these conditions aren’t nearly as severe as those many others suffer, there are many small pieces that result in a very complicated whole. In this battle, I have cried out to God for wholeness & healing, believed in it, despaired of it. It has taught me many lessons, including humility & surrender. Most of all, it has kept me dependent upon Him. Moment by moment, day by day, I am in need of His strength to get up out of bed & to survive. The Lord has honored my request to give me Himself, & always, always…this prize is worth whatever cost.
“Therefore my heart is glad & my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure (or “live in hope”, Acts 2:25-26), because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:9-11).