Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Leading from Behind

"How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it'". Isaiah 30: 19, 21 (NIV)

These verses spoke to me the moment I read them. However, one thing left me wondering: why would the Bible say God will speak behind us? Wouldn't it make more sense for God to be in front of us, leading us forward? I asked God to explain the concept to me. Recently, He explained the concept of "leading from behind" to me through a powerful demonstration of His provision.

I will be honest with you: I really debated sharing this story because the background is a little more than I am prepared to share with the whole world. However, as I have been thinking about God's provision in this circumstance, I just can't stay silent. When God answers your prayer in a powerful demonstration of faithfulness, I believe it is important to share that story to encourage others in their faith. That is the original purpose of The Walker Fireside Chats: to encourage others. And even though the blog itself has diminished, the power of the purpose behind it has not.

On April 18, I had laparoscopic surgery on my abdomen. The surgery was not emergent, totally something my husband Jared and I planned. I don't have the best history with surgery (see here and here for proof), but we thought this surgery would give us some much coveted answers about our future. The surgery itself went fine. The recovery, however, did not.

The laparoscopic surgery left me with four incisions: one to the upper left of my belly button, one through the belly button and two along my pelvic bones. My doctor closed the incisions after surgery with dermabond, a very typical surgical glue. I went home for a week under the care of Jared and my mom, who flew in from Houston just to take care of me.

For a week, things seemed to be okay. I had some pain and couldn't move well, but I was okay. After a week, though, I became concerned. My incisions didn't seem to be healing. In fact, they were getting more and more swollen and inflamed, particularly the bottom two. By the time my mom left 10 days after the surgery, my skin had blistered and bubbled around the incisions. I could barely walk, much less sleep.

I called my doctor's office in desperation. They route all calls through a call center, and for some reason, the people answering my calls did not take me seriously. They told me to go to the emergency room, but frankly, I didn't want to risk waiting for hours through triage. I was at the end of my rope. I had no idea what to do. I was alone and scared for my health. This was supposed to be a routine procedure, not the suffering-filled nightmare it had become!

I prayed a desperate prayer to God, asking Him to help me. "Tell me what to do!", I cried. I had been crying before and during my prayer, but once I finished, I became silent. I got mad. How dare the call center not take me seriously? I know my own health, not them! I decided to throw a Hail Mary pass and just show up at my doctor's office. I thought perhaps if someone could see my incisions, someone familiar with my medical history, they would realize how serious the situation had become.

So I drove to the office and told my tale of woe to the receptionist. To her credit, she listened and disappeared in the back to speak to someone. Praise God, my doctor himself had just finished clinic hours and agreed to see me. I thought, "what a coincidence!", but really it was a divine planning.

My doctor and his nurse took me to an exam room and I showed them my incisions. They gasped. I could see the horror on their face. I explained everything that had led me to this desperate act. Apparently the call center didn't have my correct information, so they didn't bother forwarding my messages to the office. My doctor promptly said I had a terrible reaction to the dermabond, the worst he had ever seen. After he removed the glue, my incisions were still open underneath, even after a week of healing!

The help I needed was waiting for me. All I had to do was get up and move forward in faith. Once I got home and thought about the miraculous circumstances that allowed me to see my own doctor with no appointment, I realized what the concept of "leading from behind" meant.

Sometimes God reaches into our lives and helps us like a CIA extraction team, miraculously turning our circumstances around. But I think most of the time, God allows trials because what's important is the process and what we learn. I remembered Joshua from the Bible. After his mentor and friend Moses died, Joshua was called to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. I am sure Joshua was terrified, his instincts telling him to sit still. Such an incredible task was impossible.

Instead, God tells Joshua,

"Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land I do give them" Joshua 1: 2 (KJV).

Basically, God tells Joshua, "get up, son! The worst has happened, but I have bigger plans for you. Get up now, and cross this seemingly impassable river. I have made a way".

In the midst of trials, just like Joshua, I think our instinct is to sit still and beg God to rescue us. And sometimes He does it just like that. But as Isaiah 30: 19, 21 illustrates, God more often leads us as we move forward in faith. I hope my experience gives you the courage to move forward and cross that seemingly impassable river! God has made a way.