I am pleased to tease you today with an excerpt from my first nonfiction book, Unpacking God. Here is some of Chapter 11: Resting in Testing … (copyright Kathryne Leach, M.A.).
The refinement of our heart that occurs during the dark, wilderness time of adversity truly originates from the goodness of God’s heart. He refines us so we can have greater impact. I like every wood project of mine to reflect a spirit of excellence. Smooth wood, gleaming finishes, careful painting detail all draw the eye to the beauty of the craftsmanship. When we allow the Master Artist to brush off our sin caked grime (ouch), then sand down our rough edges, we are being primed to accept the paint of His glorious anointing that will adhere properly to us. No peeling. No bubbles in our finish.
Since 1996, severe migraines have beset me with excruciating pain. Like many migraine sufferers, I lost an entire workday each month from incapacitation. Prescription triptan medication relieves the pain after two hours, but I am left groggy with brain fog such that clear headed thinking is impossible. I prayed for healing and the Lord answered my prayer this way: He led me to begin researching my diet. I realized that I am allergic to monosodium glutamate. MSG hides under about thirty different names on food labels so consumers will buy products they would otherwise not had they seen the MSG on the label. Once I eradicated MSG from my diet (yes, I was a junk food junkie at that time of the month), I noticed a remarkable reduction in migraine attacks.
Twenty years later, I am pleased to report that migraines occur now only two to three times per year, down from about twenty four annually. I suspect they are stress induced. It was during these painful hours waiting for my medication to kick in to change the blood flow in my brain that I learned the secret of waiting on God in the secret place. For some of us, pain is the vehicle we drive to the throne room. Year after year lying in a darkened room listening to James Goll speak from his CD titled “Invitation to Intimacy,” recorded live at the World Prayer Center transformed me.
James was caught up into another realm during prayer, creating a recording that is still as impacting as the day it was recorded. This interactive experience contains over 60 minutes of prophetic, spontaneous worship and teaching with keyboard and instrumentation by John Belt. Time after time I soaked in the anointing on this cassette disc, drawing me closer to the heart of God and growing our divine intimacy. This CD became my favorite “go to” sound, so much so that I never tire of hearing James’ soothing voice describe the outer courts, laver, mercy seat and altar of incense. Check it out on his website Encounters Network.
Physical pain forced me to lie still with the lover of my soul, Jesus, teaching me to value rest and the indescribable joy of the secret place. Would I rather not have endured hours and hours of agonizing, head splitting throbbing? What do you think, beloved? But if this was the road to my destination, it was worth every hour in bed to possess the treasure that produced this book, a new depth of adoration in my heart that no one can ever remove. Jesus’s love for me is permanently etched in my spirit.
It is His extreme goodness that prepares us in this way so that when He promotes us to a position of great visibility we do not crack under pressure. I once dreamt about granite, reminding me of the majestic Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Whether small in stature (just a few thousand feet high) to looming giants exceeding 10,000 feet, mountains have a way of putting life into perspective. In that dream, I was given a new office with a grey granite surface desk. In researching granite, I discovered that deep within a mountain, the granite layer is called gneiss, which was formed thousands of years ago as a result of earthquakes or fault shifting.
To welcome and even embrace adversity versus merely tolerating it until it ends requires courage. The flesh likes to complain during challenges (at least mine does) as a release. The Word tells us to do all things without murmuring and disputing (without grumbling or arguing in NIV) so that you may become blameless and pure people holding forth the word of life, (Philippians 2:14 NKJV). My experience is that grumbling and complaining leads down the path to negativity, followed closely by doubt. I cannot win the race against unbelief and discouragement if I am negative. So although complaining may feel good at the time, it will work against us in keeping our faith high and thoughts pure (Philippians 4:8).
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to the end, requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I surprised myself as I heard myself pray these words: “Lord, send adversity, send whatever it takes to help people purify their hearts before You. Remove all things and people from their lives that hinder love. I know You love intensely and desire us to be holy people, so do it, Lord. I would endure all the adversity in my life again to have the heart of tenderness, compassion and understanding that I now possess” (this sentence surprised me). It is true and I sincerely meant every word of that prayer.
“So we conclude that there is still a full and complete “rest” waiting for believers to experience. As we enter into God’s faith-rest life we cease from our own works, just as God celebrates his finished works and rests in them. So then we must give our all and be eager to experience this faith-rest life, so that no one falls short by following the same pattern of doubt and unbelief.” Hebrews 4:9-11 (The Passion Translation)