|Photo credit: Benutzer Darkone Nov. 2004|
Saturday, September 15, 2012
He Who Is in Me Is Greater
I have never experienced Satan fighting as hard to keep my husband Richard and me from sharing our dance ministry as he did at our most recent competition. A warning that Satan would vehemently oppose this venture came long ago. As we began choreographing our new dance, I opened a sealed bottle of water, only to find a dead fly floating on top! But Praise God that He overcame all of the devil’s obstacles and worked all things together for good! (Romans 8:28)
We are old enough to be parents or even grandparents of most of our fellow competitors, and our favorite style of dance is extremely demanding physically because it involves overhead lifts and other feats of strength and stamina packed into a four-minute dance. The average life span of a male competitor in this division is about two to four years, and many have had to retire had because of shoulder, back, or other injuries. So we know that each day we can continue in our dance ministry is a gift from God (James 4:14), and He has blessed us to be able to perform and compete for more than 23 years!
After we were saved and began using our dancing as a way to bring Gospel music and Christian themes to largely secular audiences, we met with opposition from judges and even well-meaning coaches who told us that our placements would suffer as a result. We have also experienced physical setbacks (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), problems creating distractions, and spiritual oppression (2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18). Yet over and over God has proven to be faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; Deuteronomy 7:9) in allowing us to overcome these challenges and continue to spread His Word to this unique mission field.
Our most recent competition, a highly prestigious and well-attended event, started off with opposition to whether or not we were eligible to compete, even though we had done so each year for the past five years! Help came from surprising sources (but clearly pre-planned by God!), and we were ultimately allowed to dance. However, this was not resolved until several days before the event, adding to the usual pre-competition stress.
Several weeks before, Richard had injured his thumb, not from overhead lifting but from leaning on his thigh as he rose from a kneeling position. Often injuries happen in the least expected, even routine movements simply because the dancer lets his guard down. He continued to have sudden shooting pains, although he was able to get through rehearsals reasonably well.
Also several weeks before, I began having increasing pain in my left shoulder, most likely overuse from supporting my weight on my outstretched left arm in an overhead lift where my left hand is placed on Richard’s shoulder, and other lifts involving twisting, turning, and hyperextending the shoulder. But God used this injury to encourage me to start a new exercise program to stretch and strengthen the shoulders, with good results as the competition drew nearer.
One of the interventions to improve my shoulder was to change office chairs, as my day job (and blogging!) requires much time at the computer. But Satan was on the attack again – the base on the chair turned out to be too small. As one of the wheels caught the edge of the carpet protector, the chair tipped over – with me in it – hurling me onto the floor with the chair on top of me, re-injuring my left shoulder, as well as scraping and bruising my hip!
God used that to show me that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even when we are at less than our best, He is more than able to see us through it, if He has called us to it! (2 Corinthians 9:8)
A few days later, I was enjoying my usual daily handful of “medicinal dark chocolate” morsels, as I like to call it because of all the health benefits of the polyphenols and other healing nutrients in dark chocolate. I would have swallowed what I was chewing had I not felt a sudden warning to examine what was in my mouth. To my shock I found a metal pin, about 1 inch long with two sharp ends, wrapped in a sharp metal wire! Had I continued chewing, this would at best have pierced my tongue or mouth, and at worst, I could have swallowed it, causing a fatal esophageal tear. More praise to God for His protection from seen and unseen threats!
We were competing in two events at this competition, three nights apart, and just as we left the floor after competing the first night, around midnight, Richard’s phone rang. His mother, who is 89 years old and living in an assisted living facility, had been vomiting and felt weak and light headed for several hours, but refused to go to the hospital. We spent much of the long ride home and sleepless night in prayer. Just as we had finally drifted into sleep, the phone rang at 6AM to let us know that an ambulance was now taking her to the hospital.
Although she was coherent and had no pain, her heart rate was around 20, which is incompatible with life! They rushed her to the cath lab for an emergency pacemaker insertion. Also in the waiting room at the cath lab was a young woman whose 59 year-old mother was having a procedure. An ominous announcement came over the loudspeaker: “Code Blue to the Cath Lab.”
Two lives hung in the balance, and it was one of those situations where only the Holy Spirit can intercede for us, as we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26). Richard’s mother is 89 and has lived a full life, recently professing Christ as her Saviour. The other woman was only 59 and her salvation status was unknown. “It’s in God’s hands – He’s in control,” Richard said to the woman’s daughter.
After 15 minutes that seemed like an eternity, the cardiologist came in and escorted the woman’s daughter to another room, to deliver what clearly was not good news. We don’t know the particulars, but we pray and trust that God is working even in this situation to bring others closer to Him (Romans 5:3-5).
Meanwhile, Richard’s mom did fine with the temporary and then a permanent pacemaker, and returned to her usual state of health with strengthened faith. All three of us had reason to be thankful for His healing mercies! And for His perfect timing – had she not fallen ill, her fatally low heart rate might have gone unnoticed!
Finally it was the night before the big event. We went to bed early, hoping to get a good night’s rest to make up for all the lost sleep and crises of the preceding days. But just as Richard reached over to shut off the light, he spotted a huge spider on the bedroom wall adjoining the cathedral ceiling, high up and maddeningly beyond reach. He got a long broom and attacked it, but it fell out of sight where we couldn’t see if it were dead. I was sure it was waiting under the bed to pounce on us in the middle of the night. No restful sleep in store tonight!
Richard put the broom away in the garage and came back rubbing his thumb, which he had reinjured just by positioning the broom against the garage wall! The next morning, it was no better. I suggested he take an anti-inflammatory.
“I can’t,” he replied sadly. “I just threw up.”
So here we were on the day of the competition, each fighting an injury, Richard struggling with a stomach virus and unable to keep food down, and both of us still reeling from emotional turmoil and lack of rest. I began to feel ill myself, drained of all energy, faint, and light-headed. No matter – His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13); and with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
“Do you think God is trying to tell us not to do this?” Richard asked.
“No, Satan doesn’t want us to do this, but He Who is in me is greater than he who is in the world,” I answered (1 John 4:4). “Just get in the car, please.”
That night, as we began to dance to the packed house and remote audience viewing by live streaming, I thanked God for using us to spread His Word in this unique way. Loudly, boldly, the narrative at the beginning of our dance proclaimed over the speakers:
“Transformed – darkness to light; earth to Heaven; death to everlasting life.”
We danced well, to His glory, and the audience response was very positive, praise God! A man who passed me in the hall afterwards said “You are blessed and highly favored.”
A woman highly positioned in the dance community said, “I’m a Christian and I appreciate your message. You just keep doing what you’re doing, because this crowd really needs it. So many of them have hearts of stone, but I look at their faces when you’re dancing and I can see their hearts softening a little.”
We won’t know until we reach Glory what impact our ministry may have, but we thank God for appointing us as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and for His faithfulness in opening doors (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3) and leading us through them, holding us in the palm of His right hand!
So we’ll just keep doing what we feel He has led us to do, Lord willing, until He comes again!
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.