It was almost three in the morning, the toilet bowl was flushed for at least the twentieth time. I cannot exactly remember what time it all started but I was woken up by this foul feeling in my tummy, something at the tip of throat, all ready to be thrown out again. Instead of having a supposedly fun-filled girls-night-out birthday celebration dinner, I was rushed to the outpatient clinic and given two injections to stop adominal pains and vomiting. Dawn broke, I was totally worn out and dehydrated from squeezing out even the last bit of gastric juice left in my stomach. I collapsed into my bean bag.
In a daze, I vaguely heard a firm but faint voice in a Filipino accent, “Miss, what’s your name?” I replied in a very weak voice and before I could finish mumbling out my full name, “What about your ID number? Any allergy to any medication?” And then a few other questions went on and I was left alone in a room on the bed and a needle with a valve poked through at the side of my right wrist, waiting for the drip. I could barely move, physically exhausted, my eye lids felt heavy.
It is a fairly new hospital and seems to me, well-staffed, well-designed and spacious for rest and recovery. Apart from the physical pain from the gastric flu, the hassle of needing to rush to the toilet for the many puny outputs, syringes and needles and the sickening feeling of being weak, I pretty much enjoyed my five days hospitalisation. In the midst of chaos, I learnt to be still. Not because I could but because He made it so. There was much favor and grace shown with the “upgrade” I was given free from a class B 6-bedded ward to an isolation ward that is single bedded with aircon, my own bathroom and a 4 panel full-length glass window to therapeutically enjoy the view of the botanical landscape.
Loneliness usually hits me hard when I fall sick. I dislike the feeling of helplessness and it usually adds more fear to the already insecure me. But for some reasons, I felt at ease. There was a sense of assurance that I was not alone. I didn’t feel scared like I usually do.
This time of rest allowed me to be still. Looking back, it was like a “happily ever after” moment for me. I wished time could stop where it was, just God and me. God brought me back to the garden where we walked, where I heard His footsteps, where He called Himself Father, my Father.
Jesus tells us explicitly in John 17:24 “Father, You loved me before the creation of the world.” We call God, our Lord, our King, our Creator but above all, He is the Father.
“God has revealed Himself to be: not first and foremost Creator or Ruler, but Father… a person who gives life, who begets children… For if, before all things, God was eternally a Father, then this God is an inherently outgoing, life-giving God. He did not give life for the first time when he decided to create; from eternity he has been life-giving.”~Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, What was God doing before creation?
It takes me long and hard to grasp this idea of having a father and child relationship with God. I gave all kinds of excuses to sin and continue sinning because of my parent’s divorce, their remarriages, growing up and still existing in a dysfunctional family, lack of parental guidance, lack of love and care, the corruptedness of life, selfishness of my earthly parents and the list goes on. I choose not to trust because I succumbed to the thinking developed from undesirable situations that happened to me that there is no one to be trusted. Even when I know or at the least, I want to believe that God is different, God is God, I imprinted all the faults of my earthly parents unto God, when He is the Father. It was easier when I did not know. With the awareness and knowledge, I lost my bearings, I struggle to pursue a relationship with God because He is first, our Father, before He is Creator and Ruler.
The time came, to discharge from the hospital. I wished I could stay longer. The tension in life awaiting out here brings no appeal for me to “get well”. I felt safe and secure in the isolated ward, in the space that there was only Father and me. I could believe that my Father’s love is enough for me. All the ups and downs of life are just frills that will come to pass because my Father is my pillar of strength and tower of refuge. His unfailing love is never-ending.
The calm before storm
This peace is precious because it came from a place of assurance from the Assured. Long before I know, it was over. It was over as soon as I returned to a place I want to call home, because God said it is home. Within the next few hours, the ocean rose and thunder roared. The storm came. The ship wreaked. I responded in anguish and left in disgust. There was no resolve. Everyone was beaten up and hurt.
Where is the calmness I had out of the assurance from my Father’s presence? Where is the assurance I had out of the belief that my Father is in control? Where is the belief I had out of the trust that my Father loves? Where is the love that I had out of knowing He is my Father?
I am appalled with my responses and the rotten fruit of my labour. All the grace and favor I have received from the Father’s love has gone to nothing but the waste. My heart is unchanged. I am unrepentant. I continue to live in a reality of fear not conquered by love, His love, our Father’s love. I continue to inhale air filled with lies and refuse to come out of the darkness to see things in the light, His light, our Father’s light.
His anger is but for a moment, His favor… a lifetime.
In the midst of confusion, I am reminded of Psalms 30:4-5 “Sing praises to the Lord , O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
God so arranged, a dinner date for me and my father, the father Father gave me on earth. My first ever experience, just me and father, as far as I can remember, not even once when I was a kid. We had dinner and we talked. There was no agenda, no angst. I looked at him as he spoke, his receding hairline, the wrinkles and spots due to aging, the slightly blue-tinted eyes that we thought only my grandfather, his father, had. There was a similar calmness I had with Father, when it was just me and Him. We spent two hours together and it felt like there can be more. This feeling is strangely warm and familiar. I cannot remember when was the last time I hated my father. I cannot remember when was it that I felt betrayed and rejected by him.
A week of restedness in calmness before a week of storm, wrapped up with a similar feeling of warmth and familiarity where the calmness started. Hebrews 12:11 says “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
This saga has not ended. The reality of fear not conquered by His love still exist and I am still responding in anguish and disgust as much as I do not want to. The victories are short-lived because I am short-sighted. I cannot see beyond my hurts and pains. I struggle to be in the light because I have gotten used to the darkness. The more I try on my own, the more I fail. This journey is not about me and how whiny it is. My story is worth nothing if there is no response to live life as God calls-a life of continuous repentance, restoration and healing in the light of hope, in our Father’s love.
Father, here I am, as You have called me. Let me be still and rest in Your love, not just in the isolated space but out here in this reality of life You have given. Conquer my fears with Your love. I have tasted Your goodness out of Your grace and mercy and with You, all things are possible.
Hide me now
Under Your wings
Within Your mighty hand
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God
(Still, words and music by Reuben Morgan)
His beautiful & relentless love makes a soul relentlessly beautiful.