5.19.2007

Stress Test

I have a confession to make: butterflies freak me out. When people
hear this somewhat embarrassing fact, they often amusedly ask me if I
had a traumatic incident in my past involving butterflies. I shake my
head no and explain that there's no logical explanation, I just find
butterflies creepy, suspicious, and downright scary.

There may be no explanation for my disdain for butterflies, but there
is an explanation for why my heart skips a beat when I hear a fire
engine. Several years ago, I did have a traumatic incident that
involved a fire engine, the details of which I won't go into here.
And so to this day, the sound of that siren fills me with a tiny pang
of panic, as I recount that dreadful incident.

Given that you hear sirens a lot in the city, you'd think that I'd die
a little almost every day. And you'd be somewhat correct, but not
totally. For that visceral seizing of fear is matched by an equally
strong remembrance of God's steady hand through those dark times. And
so I am left, not with a constant debilitating reminder, but a steady
rejuvenating one.

To use a medical analogy, doctors will often stress a patient's heart,
to see how that heart will respond. Healthy hearts recover from the
shock, enabling the doctor to get a sense of the patient's physical
resilience.

I believe God is acting as our Great Physician in this regard. He
will "shock" our system at times, to bring us to a greater place of
rootedness in Him, or to demonstrate to us that we are not as rooted
in Him as we ought to be.

And in fact, my stress test gave me a good prognosis of where I stood
in my reliance on and trust of God. It was laid bare for me to see
where I doubted, where I had conveniently and shallowly covered up
spiritual weakness, and where I truly trusted the goodness and power
of my God to the core.

And so I find myself strengthened by every fire truck reminder of my
stress test, because my faith passed - not because of the strength of
my faith, but because of the strength of the One in whom my faith is
placed. I still get that pang, but my heart is simultaneously
reminded of the reliance my God has refined in me through it all.

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