Who's Driving This Bus?

by Joanie Butman

I know I said I wasn’t going to be writing, but I couldn’t resist getting in one more story. Yesterday I was thrown a curveball in the form of a sore throat and threatening cold, which I thought might mandate a postponement. I had finally caught my husband’s ‘man cold,’ which females know all too well is a life threatening illness. I was upset and could only respond honestly, “Really God? Are you kidding me?” Actually, what I said was more off color than that, but this is a Christian blog so I will keep that between God and me. Anyone who is shocked that you can express your anger to God can be comforted by the fact that He is bigger than anything you can throw at Him – and I was slinging some mud!

Following my temper tantrum and a good cry, I opened Jesus Calling to these words, “Learn to trust Me when things go ‘wrong.’ Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me.” After sharing my woes with a friend, she directed me to an earlier Jesus Calling we had just been discussing. It reads,

“To live in My Presence consistently, you must expose and expel your rebellious tendencies. When something interferes with your plans or desires, you tend to resent the interference. Try to become aware of each resentment, however petty it may seem. Bring them boldly into the Light of My presence, so that I can free you from them. The ultimate solution is submission to My authority over you. Intellectually you rejoice in My sovereignty, without which the world would be a terrifying place. But when My sovereign will encroaches on your little domain of control, you often react with telltale resentment.” 

BUSTED on all fronts.

It became clearer to me as the day wore on that God was sending an important reminder that “You are in control of NOTHING.” I thought I had surrendered this situation over to Him years ago, but in some ways I was still trying to drive the bus. This cold definitely did not fit into MY plans. Just to add a divine exclamation point to His message, the salon called at 7 a.m. to notify me that my hairdresser called in sick. Every woman knows you don’t go with a sub before an important event. I know that seems silly but who doesn’t want to look glam while being sliced and diced? My nails were done, the brows and lip threaded – a color and cut was the last step in my prep before the Miralax.

To add fuel to this ridiculous fire, I was reading a book dropped of by a friend this week called Preparing for Surgery.  The author claims that patients hear the chatter in the operating room despite being unconscious. One patient recalled the surgeon describing her body as resembling a ‘beached whale,’ which adversely affected her healing. Too late to do anything about that. Just last night I had polished off my last meal: Ring Dings with a side of Yodels. So the least I could do for the surgical staff is look well groomed.

Aside from the physical primping, my friend had already arrived from Texas to care for me post op. But most importantly, I felt mentally and spiritually prepared – like an athlete for a playoff game. At least I thought I was. God knew better. I should have known something was up when I received an email the night before with a message my friend received in response to prayer for me:

"’It's not about her anyway!’  Wow -- what do you mean God?  Of course it's about her and what she's going through!  Clearly, the answer came back, ‘No, it's not about her. It's about what I can do through this situation.’ So girlfriend, none of this is a surprise to Him. And I know that He plans to use this for HIS glory. What an honor that He trusts you to deliver those messages and testimonies to others. In all truth, that is the purpose of each of our lives. To bring Him glory.” 

I couldn’t agree more. This is the mission field He's given me. An unusual assignment for sure but always an honor to witness for Him.  I thank my friend for having the courage to pass along a message she initially considered harsh. She‘s an exceptionally wise, faithful woman I respect for lots of reasons, and her comment below is just one of them: “When you know (or think) you've heard from God, you have to say it...even if it makes you uncomfortable.” 

So what’s the lesson? Surrender isn’t a one-time thing. Plus, you can’t surrender and try to dictate the terms at the same time. While I thought I was spiritually prepared, God wanted the last word. My response remains the same as after my first diagnosis, “Let it be to me according to your will.” This time, however, I added, “without any caveats.” I resigned myself to His timing. I called the surgeon, explained the circumstances and he gave me the go ahead unless I developed a fever.

As a supplement to the lesson above, God passed along another reminder through someone else, which in and of itself illustrates the beauty and value of being in Christian fellowship. He often speaks to us through others. It’s a video entitled, Man Trains His Horses For A Beautifully Rare Show. The caption explains that,

“Hours of careful training lead a man and his horses to be able to do anything together. So, they put on a show to prove it. The love the man had for his horses allowed his time spent with them to be beneficial, as the horses learned to willingly cohere with all of the man's wild ideas for them. He began training them with high aspirations, and soon they were able to do rare tricks. They learned the patience to sit, bend, and move at the man's every command. When the man motioned for them, they willingly moved about however they were suppose to.”

I’m not a horse person, nor do you have to be a Christian to see the analogy. God has spent years training me to walk this journey with Him transforming a rare cancer into a Beautifully Rare Show. Prepare to be amazed.