What does it mean to have an “All Things” faith?
For a period of about five years, I was in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time for complications with my Crohn’s Disease. Each time that I was in the hospital, I would find some colored markers and a blank sheet of paper so that I could hang this verse by my bed: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). It became my mantra. I’d fall asleep whispering it over and over again, inhaling the words relentlessly until they made an imprint on my heart.
One night, I was awoken by a surgeon in the middle of the night. He told me that he would have to remove my colon and I’d live the rest of my life with an ileostomy bag on my stomach. I could hardly breathe.
That night I tossed and turned for hours, feeling completely hopeless. As a 24 year old woman, I was so afraid of how I was going to look, how I was going to smell, and how I was ever going to explain this to anyone I was dating. The pain and despair was excruciating. At around 4 in the morning, I found myself exhausted, reciting my mantra over and over again, my version of counting sheep. I can do all things through Him…all things…I can do all things….He is my strength.
Moments later, I felt a warm presence enter my room. It was as if someone that I loved was sitting in the chair beside my bed. As crazy as it sounds, I knew Jesus was there, sitting beside me in the chair beside my bed. He was as relaxed and at peace as ever, glowing. When He saw me recognize Him, a warm smile came upon His face. I watched Him take a deep breath and slowly let it go. He looked at me with more love in His eyes than I have ever experienced. As if I were the only one that ever mattered to Him.
“What are you most afraid of, Dana?” He asked.
After all of the tossing and turning, I hadn’t asked myself that question. I wasn’t sure. Was it how I’d look with a bag? How I thought I might smell? If I’d ever be able to surf or snowboard again? And then it hit me. The bottom. The end of the line, the deepest of my fears: How could anyone ever love me? Let alone, how could I ever love me?
“I’m afraid to lose my ability to love and be loved.” I said, tears rolling down my cheeks.
And then His smile came back and His eyes lit up. He brushed the hair away from my sweaty forehead and said, “Well, that’s good. Because you’ll never lose Me.”
And then I fell asleep.
What Jesus reminded me of was the most simple and most profound thing, the only bit of truth that I will ever need. He unraveled everything that I believed gave me value. In that instant, I knew that God’s love is the only love that I will ever need – He doesn’t love me in pieces, He isn’t ashamed of me, He keeps His promises, His love is wild and strong, yet gentle and pure. It isn’t based at all in the way I look – but rather in who I am because of Him:
Loved. Cherished. Treasured. Enough. Chosen. His.
I knew from that moment on that the world could break my body, it could take away my dignity, my reputation, and the things that I think make me who I am…but the world can never take away my Lord. I have placed Him like a seal upon my heart (Song of Solomon 8:6). The joy that comes from being His is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
My mantra began to take life when I truly realized that I could do all things through Him who gives me strength. So many people think of this verse as a bit of biblical motivation — “you can train for that marathon because you can do all things through Him!” And that’s great… but I don’t really think that’s what the true meaning is…
To me, all things means that I can rejoice and have peace in all things – the sparkly and happy things and the tough and difficult things. We can rejoice knowing that we will never, ever lose Him. He has already plucked us out of iniquity and called us His. What more could we need?
How can you live out an all things faith?