Sometimes all people see of me is online as my brain injury forces me into seclusion in order to ‘reset’. When I can’t drive, read and retain, I hole up at home and I wait out the pain and this familiar glitch where my mind and body refuse to work together. I sit and wait occasionally watching old movies I’ve seen a dozen times so I don’t have to turn up the volume. I sit in the dark needing the silence and physical healing it alone can bring.
Anyways, I’ll get to feeling better usually within a week or so. It takes longer since that 2nd hit last September however eventually my motor skills will kick in. Then I wait for the head to comply. Then it’s the ears and eyes that have me on hold but by then I’m getting stir crazy. So I throw on some expensive sunglasses and grab my keys. While I can’t do people or crowds yet I am tired of the lock-down and so off I go. Alone in the quiet still but out.
I head to the lake for the day. To the river with the camper. Or I head to the coast for the night. (And yes I’ll drive 8 hours and sleep 8 hours for 4 hours sitting and talking with the LORD where the salt water meets the sand.) I walk into the silence looking for water and my Comforter.
When I leave the house I’m pursuing God as I wait to return to the land of the living. While I’m gone, He is walking me back from the prison of ‘sit tight and wait for it’. Usually when I pull back in the drive I am refreshed AND reset and ready to go to ball games, youth group, visit the family, fix dinner for all our siblings and parents etc .,
This is me now but it isn’t who I was in September 2009 before the tree and brain trauma. This isn’t even who I had become prior to September 2018 when I fell backwards out of that swing onto my head and neck.
No. This is me now. Time changes. Flowers fade. Children grow up. People age. People die. And this is me… today.
I’ve spent the last 3 months going to way to many doctors AGAIN. We are done. The therapy sets me off. The cognitive exercises set me WAY back. Medicines jack me up and set off tremors and heart issues. So this is it. This is me.
I have have redefined my boundaries and sought God in fits of tears fearful I would not be able to fulfill my call with these issues. Fearful I would be forced by these physical constraints to do what some choose to do without any constraints… sit.
Desperate to make a kingdom difference I turned to praying for others who still could GO. I sought to lift others up to the Lord like Lenny, my husband, had. Praying for the saints to rise up and pierce the growing darkness of our world. I prayed. I waited.
Then I noticed God had gotten quiet.
Where did He go? You can ask because I did but I assumed it was a test and when the Teacher is giving a test He is silent. He is waiting.
So there I sat in Birmingham at the Southern Baptist Convention experiencing His silence… still.
I was listening to and praying for the pastors and their wives, the laymen, speakers and leaders who had assembled to bring a Word, share a journey, call us to prayer. It was Day 2 and that’s what I was doing when my head went out on me AGAIN. I had tried to sit out of line with the speakers and away from visual distractions. I thought I was playing it safe and would be good. I was wrong.
So now I am back at my hotel in my silence AND His.
It’s one thing to be miserable and holed up at home but another to be stuck someplace paying too much money for a room you can’t drive away from. I was beyond frustrated. I was sitting in the stillness… MAD.
I knew God had said to go there. And I knew I was the only one of the two of us surprised it all crashed. Each night there was costing me more than I make in a week, for Pete’s sake! This widowed, preacher’s wife was sure in need of her preacher man but with the only two men I could talk to were AWOL so there I sat.
Flipping on HGTV and shutting down the volume I flipped off the lights and went to bed – done.
The next morning I woke up. Sat up. And prayed.
I couldn’t leave because my balance and motor skills were shot and so I wouldn’t drive. I couldn’t return to convention because the noise levels would further compromise my struggle.
Penned by the physical stuff I have no control over I looked up flustered to the One who controls it all, “Lord, what is this? My head ain’t clicking so tell me straight up, please.”
In the wait and silence came a ‘knowing’ but still not a Word. You see this wasn’t a test, this was me in time-out.
In the silence that followed I realized suddenly why my journey was currently stunted. You see somewhere in the midst of the chaos that reigned while the doctors tried to fix me, ‘I’ had decided that in light of my declining boundaries, the way God could use me would also have change. I thought I was being brave by embracing this broken version of me but in reality I was assuming control. I looked around for other ways to serve. Sat the other files to the side. Flipped the page and began charting a new course.
In that moment I was presuming rather than listening or I would have heard Him say, ‘No, Sherry that is not it.’
You see He hadn’t changed the plan.
My new status didn’t alter His purposes for me.
They did not null and void my call.
But I had. And that wasn’t going to work with my Dad. You see He loves me and therefore won’t ever be content to let me, or you, settle especially when we have spent a lifetime of prayers asking to be spent for His glory.
He didn’t need me healed or restored. He needed me to be surrendered to Him and to reflect a life lived in Christ and led by His Spirit. The same power that had drawn me to Him in 1976, the same power that brought down mountains and called me out and had walked me across stormy seas these past few years was still all-powerful. He was still sovereign enough to reign in power. He just needed me to define my weakness so that I could embrace it and His will and continue to serve and be His witness.
Turning on the computer I went to a message I had sent out before I opted to go with ‘my plan’. I drove out and bought a calendar and grabbed something to eat then I went back to the room instead of going to convention. You see I still couldn’t have done the noise of convention but the last thing God had told me to do was something I could do as I was and where I was… in the silence.
I prayed… this time for me and then turned on the computer checking to see if I had any confirmations regarding the mornings message regarding a mission trip to Ireland. As they texted back I logged us in and began putting the wheels in motion trusting God to pull it together and equip me to ready us.
Leaving Birmingham the next morning I took a long-cut to our cousin’s wedding and checked into a cheap hotel on the coast. In the silence, peace settled over me as gently as the cool coastal breeze that was drifting across me and the Lord sung over me. My head was giving me fits but O what a mighty God we serve.
By the time I got home 2 days later I was in my sweet spot and ready to embrace whatever the Lord said was mine to do and there were 11 of us booked out for Ireland 2020. With my bags emptied and stowed I grabbed my Bible and journal and sat down at my desk. Raising my eyes I looked to the picture above my desk. In my heart that is me. A long, dark- haired woman walking on the beach at dusk looking to her right like she is conversing with a friend though she is very much alone.
The scripture above her reads, ‘God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.’
Oh but I had tried to move.
Dropping my eyes, my eyes fell to the sticky notes that I placed there in the winter of 2017 as God had begun walking me out of my mourning, toward something. I had initially stuck them there because I was having head issues and so I had had to keep revisiting the same things. So this time I wrote them out and stuck them where I would quickly remember instead of having to reconstruct it all.
There were options and questions like: Where should I live? What are my expenses? How will I provide for myself financially? How will I minister without Lenny? What is ideal vs reality? What else would I need to surrender?
Some of the questions had an X through them as God said, ‘No.’
Some had another sticky note over them with a date and one word: ANSWERED.
But as I sat there the notes that caught my eyes were the promises He had spoken to me in moments of stillness… in the silence of my quiet times:
Write the book and make disciples.
December 19, 2017 It is not about your plans or thoughts, Sherry. It’s My purposes and plans. I’ve got you in this.
WRITE. Write the book!
Mardi Gras Missions, Vieux Carre Baptist Church, Tom Builderback
Return to Ireland: 3 teams, Bible Study, discipleship and intentional evangelism
There it was, a beautiful reminder from God that He wasn’t calling me to a new thing but was continuing to forge me to walk into the original plans and purposes. The ones He had shared in the months following Lenny’s death.
Circumstances change. We change. But God is faithful. His words are eternal and true and that includes the ones in the Bible, as well as, the ones His Spirit speaks to our hearts… in the silence.