the now and the not yet of kingdom with all the struggles in between

What??? I know I look like a cyborg. 

It’s a pH manometry test

It’s a small probe that is inserted through your nostril down the back of the throat and positioned near the lower esophagus, above the opening of the stomach. The probe is plugged into a small monitor worn on your belt or over your shoulder for 24 hours. So I’ll get it out tomorrow morning.

This is my 3rd time doing this. The last two times were several years ago. It was one of the tests I had to take to help discover the esophagus spasms and ultimately led to other tests that helped discover my diagnosis of Achalasia in 2013, which is a rare disease that causes the lower part of the esophagus to stop working. I had to have a surgery in 2014 to correct it. 

Fast forward July 15th, 2020. I got Covid-19 and ever since I have been battling GI and esophagus issues. I guess I’m what you call one of those long-haulers, so to speak. I have post-covid inflammation / IBS as one diagnosis. I’m still suffering under flare ups, and I had one really bad one yesterday.  

My GI doctor has done a number of tests, and this is just another to collect more data to help figure out what all else is going on. Not fun. 

Please be praying for me that I would find full and complete healing – via the gift of healing prayer or the healing gift of the medical community. I really have struggled since July. Some days are much better and some days are much worse, and at times I have had moments with little to no issues, both through prayer and medicine. 

I’ve used the hard times for what I call the gift of pause. I don’t think sickness is a gift, and I do believe it’s God’s will to heal. I have personally seen his gifts of healing manifest into the thousands of people over the years. I have seen healings happen instantly, some progressively, and for others, their healing has come as they have passed from this life into a new body that Jesus has for them. 

I also believe to whatever degree the enemy’s hand is at work and means for our harm and destruction and distraction, and ultimately through God’s grace he turns it around for our good. The good is what I’ve called the gift of the pause. I have had to slow down, and in that the Lord has used these times to find a deep place in him. I’m not saying you have to suffer to grow in a deer place with God, but I am saying God meets us in our suffering.

The ideas that Christians should never suffer or go through sickness, or it’s all a lack of faith – that’s simply not true, and a lot of these kinds of thoughts are just charismatic folklore. Nor am I saying that there’s not healing breakthrough. 

I have seen the blind see, the deaf hear, and those crippled restored, and all in between get healed, while I myself, one of my kids, or family members was dealing with sickness. When we were helping plant Crestwood, my mom got stage 4 melanoma cancer, my son came down to rare disease called PANDAS when he was nine years old, and that is when I was first diagnosed with Achalasia. I had been struggling with stomach issues for a few years. 

During all this time I was still praying for the sick, and when all this happened I clearly heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. “Brian, I want you to go pray for the sick like you have never prayed for the sick before. I don’t want you to get caught up in the chaos but in the commissioning.” Even while I was going through my own agonizing, debilitating pain.

That word empowered me with grace to go and do! I saw the kingdom breakthrough on the behalf of many. I have continued to push through during many personal struggles, and I still do and have even seen several powerful kingdom breakthroughs for others, even since this new physical struggle with covid. 

The struggle has looked like pain, tears, and the frustration of not being able to do a lot of things. I haven’t stopped praying for people or receiving prayer, getting healing from God’s gifts of grace through doctors and medications while struggling through and lamenting over the pain, through tears, sometimes loud cries. That also too is faith. Faith is more than what we oftentimes distort it into being. Hebrews 5:7-8 says, “In the days of his flesh, he (Jesus) cried out with loud petitions and cries to the one who could save him.” Jesus had perfect faith.

Being a believer does’t mean you’re not going to battle through things. We are called overcomers for a reason, because that means we have something to overcome. In this season, since July, I didn’t hear a clear word from the Lord like I did before when I first got sick years ago when planning Crestwood. This time I’ve only come to realize the Lord was speaking to me differently in this season, through the gift of pause to slow down. 

That doesn’t mean I’m still not praying for people or sharing my faith. It just hasn’t been at the same intensity and pace as before due to everything going on with covid and my body. And the challenge will be for me, when healing does come and life picks back up, that I find intentional moments of pause so I can grow in deeper ways with Jesus.

I have been discovering Jesus in very deep ways, and discovering things that I probably would not have been able to without the gift of the pause – not the sickness, but the pause. I will share more in future posts. In the meantime please pray for me to be fully healed from this post-covid inflammation. 

I’ll always keep pressing in for the now of the kingdom, knowing that at some level we will all be struggling, that we are simply wounded healers. We work out our faith in struggle, looking to His faithfulness, who then strengthens us in faith. It is the now and the not yet of kingdom with all the struggles in between.

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