Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living Life in the "Sidelines"

It never seems to fail that after I blog about or publicly proclaim God's provision and goodness that Satan tempts me to despair. Yesterday was one of those days - a frustrating doctor's appointment, increased pain levels, a sick daughter (who by the way is normally extremely healthy - HUGE praise for that!), inability to get the massage I had scheduled, finding out we will have to wait 3 weeks to hear about the job my husband interviewed for, falling for a scam, etc. etc.

So what did my heart do? It turned to worry and doubt. I cried and felt panicky. I got frustrated with my husband who tried to preach the truth to me and I wallowed in self-pity. A family friend recommended a book by missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, called Rose from Brier which was written for those suffering during her days of illness. I thought I had heard Amy Carmichael suffered physically, but I did not know her story, so I did some research and found a book preview on Google Books called Amy Carmichael: Let the Little Children Come by Lois Hoadley Dick that shared some of her suffering:

"Diamond –crystalized carbon, the hardest substance in existence. It has been through the fire. The diamonds that reflect the most light have received the roughest treatment. Yet the greatest care is taken by the jeweler not to damage the stone in any way. Every flaw must be cut out, even a microscopic flaw. 
From 1901 to 1931, Amy had been active and in “spare” time wrote twenty-two books. Then in September 1931, she went to the Hindu town of Kalakadu, about four miles north of Dohnavur, to inspect a house called haunted, which was offered to them as an outpost for some of their workers. In her quiet time with the Lord that morning she had prayed, “Do with me as Thou wilt. Do anything, Lord, that will fit me to serve Thee and help my beloveds.” 
That evening, while walking around the house at Kalakadu, God began to answer her prayer. She slipped and fell into a pit dug by coolies in the wrong spot. Her leg was broken and her ankle dislocated. Acute neuritis later disabled one arm. Arthritic pain of the spine set in, and for twenty years she rarely left her room and was never without pain. Another fall in her room broke her hip and arm. The last two years of her life she could not get out of bed. The slightest moving was almost impossible, and drugs no longer controlled the constant pain.  
Answered prayer? Amy had prayed, “Do anything, Lord.” And he continued to facet the diamond.
Her family, who had been used to seeing her hurry about her work like a hare, found it hard to accept the situation. Amy was still active, but her activity was confined to one room, and it was activity of the inner life."

I have downloaded the Kindle sample of  Rose from Brier and it does look to be very encouraging.

Also encouraging while researching about Amy Carmichael, I came across a blog of a fellow suffering servant and was particularly convicted by this post. Struggling with a chronic illness and recovering from a miscarriage, she says she felt like she was "sitting on the sidelines of life". That is exactly how I felt last night! I kept saying, "what is the purpose in me laying around the house all day in my pajamas (the only clothes that don't inflict too much pain)?". I feel like I'm just sitting on the sidelines waiting to get better or for God to change our situation so I can join the rest of the world in living life and serving God! But like the author says, this isn't the sidelines - lying on my couch in my pajamas on July 26, 2012 is where God has me right now for a purpose. She says, "living in a place of dependence on Him, is a blessed place to be." Like Amy Carmichael, there is much work to be done on the inner life and this can be accomplished in one room with a failing body. It may not feel blessed, but that's where God's word comes in.

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

God's in control of my days, His ways are good, and not a single minute "on the side-lines" is wasted.


  1. Karie, I wanted to stop by and say that though you may feel sometimes as though your current situation serves no purpose, your pain led you to start this blog, which I know has ministered to many people, myself included. I have been so encouraged to read of your determination to have faith in God even when things in your life are so very difficult, and I have praised Him because of the work He is doing in and through you. Though you're not out on the mission field, this blog can reach other continents, too! God's glory can be spread in a variety of ways, and your writing, your transparency and faith, are doing just that. Keep the faith, and keep writing!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Rose from Brier is one of the most encouraging & challenging books I've read during my illness. I'm sure you will like it. There is so much depth packed into each one of its short chapters. Amy Carmichael was one wise lady and I especially love how she is writing from one sick person to another,as she is going through the experience.

    I do know that awful feeling of being 'on the sidelines' and at times I have felt envious of other peoples active, productive lives but deep down I have come to realise that I am where God wants me right now. I do feel like I'm in a period of waiting & learning & refining but I know that God must have a purpose in this & I don't want to waste this time longing for something else.

    My Dad is fond of quoting poetry & one of his favourites is by John Milton ' On His Blindness'. In the poem John Milton is wondering about this same question - how can he serve God well when he is blind. The answer comes.... "God doth not need
    Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
    Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best."
    And the very last line of the poem has always stuck in my head "They also serve who only stand and wait".
    (The full poem is here

    But I also have to confirm what Erin has said, you do far more than only stand and wait. Reading your blog & seeing your faith through your illness has been a challenge and an encouragement to me through mine. You are serving God & your life has more impact than you realise.

    I'm sorry that its been an extra hard week. Its ok to struggle & cry when things get hard, I do very often! But hang on in there and I hope that reading Rose from a Brier will be an encouragement to you.

  4. I cannot believe that I just happened across this blog. I too have been literally blindsided by the most debilitating & painful situation that I have been wondering if I was going to make it thru. Having broken vertebrae a couple of months ago, having to have surgery and in the process they pinched nerves, I have lived with excruciating pain that pain meds don't even touch. I have about given up on some days and now I read this. I can now tie the "knot" & hang on again thanks to you. Thank you for being the inspiration to help me go on.