Trusting the Voice of God
by Patricia Lee
I stared at the mirror in disbelief. My eyebrow drooped low over my right eye, the curve of the mouth below it hung to my chin. How could this be happening? Again?
Lord, I said, why now?
I’d endured Bell’s Palsy once before, about ten years prior, so I recognized its symptoms. I’d been younger then, but it still took about six months to clear. To add to my dismay, statistics said most people my age weren’t afflicted with the disorder, nor did the majority suffer through it twice. Why was I the lucky winner?
God, are you listening?
My doctor confirmed my suspicions and immediately prescribed antibiotics and prednisone. The virus causing the disfigurement would be eradicated soon, but the after effects would linger at their leisure.
I moaned. Only weeks before I’d registered for a Christian writer’s conference scheduled toward the end of the following month, and thirty days beyond that I would join an inspirational Author’s panel at a local bookstore to promote my latest release. Talking would be important. My mouth in its current state couldn’t get the job done. I looked like a stroke victim. Someone might call 911.
I dissolved into a puddle of pity and had a good cry. I knew all the platitudes that should comfort me, but they didn’t. I thought of Job and his losses when God allowed him to be tested. I hadn’t lost any family members, nor my household wealth. I didn’t have boils all over my body. No, all that was wrong with me was a sagging mouth and an eye that wouldn’t close. Compared to Job, I was in pretty good shape.
But go to a writer’s conference like this?
God, I can’t. I just can’t.
Acts 16:31 tells us to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” I’d believed in that promise at the age of twelve and had learned to listen for God’s voice. I’d trusted that still, small voice to not let me down. It wouldn’t now. I waited, swimming deep in my pool of despair, and God’s voice spoke to my heart.
“Pat,” He said. “Have you forgotten the blood that ran down my face when the crown of thorns pierced my head? Have you blanked out the scars on my body from the centurion’s whip? Did you not understand how I struggled to walk across Jerusalem as I labored under the weight of my own cross, my humiliation enhanced by the jeers of the crowd? Do you not remember my cries of pain as the soldiers drove spikes through my hands and feet and then hoisted me into the air to hang on a tree until I bled to death?”
The reminder shamed me. Jesus had suffered all of this for me to purchase my salvation. I didn’t deserve His sacrifice, that kind of devotion, or the measure of love, but yet He willingly did it anyway.
I knew then I was supposed to attend the conference, though I didn’t know why. I had a second book to offer and news of a third about to release. I had classes I needed to hear. I also knew God always taught me new things about himself when I joined other believers to perfect our writing craft. This conference would not be an exception. I shoved aside my pride and determined to go.
The surprise waiting for me didn’t come from the classes or the inspirational speakers—though they were excellent and inspiring—it came from the conferees themselves. Looking at my face their
reactions were varied.
“You have Bell’s Palsy,” one woman said. “My husband had that and whole milk helped heal the myelin sheath lining the nerve. The fat content helps restore the damage.”
“What a nuisance,” said another. “Do you need to wear an eye patch?”
“I’m so proud of you for coming,” said a close friend. “That would have been the end of the conference for me.”
People hovered around me like I was fragile glass. They offered to carry my plate to the buffet, made sure I had an easy chair to get into, and offered their support over and over again. God’s people blessed me with their love and caring spirits. They ministered to me being what they were—His people. The community of believers had stepped up to comfort me in my distress. I could hear God laughing.
Was it a good conference?
The best I ever attended.