Sunday, September 21, 2008

When All is Stripped Away

The following blog entry was first written last April for my Inner Beauty Girlz blog. If you are struggling with things you wish you could accomplish but running up against limitations, I pray that it will be a blessing to you today. I thought to repost it because I have been feeling much of the same discouragement lately and after reading The Crippled Lamb to my daughter as I tucked her in for bed tonight, I was once again encouraged. That story never fails to uplift me!


Sitting in church a couple of weeks ago I was simply too tired to stand for the singing time. This isn't at all uncommon - I sit through music time more often than I'm able to stand. (There were years when I rarely could leave the house to attend church at all, so just being able to be there is HUGE!) But as I am sitting I am usually singing and Signing (Sign Language) and stiving to give my whole heart over to worship.

Unfortunately, I started having asthma attacks about 3 years ago and I've found singing to be a frequent trigger. So on weeks when I can't sing either, I grab my inhailer, stop the asthma attack in its tracks, and consentrate on joining in musical worship through Sign. Recently I've found my arms to "heavy" and the pain too instense even to Sign consistantly. So a couple of weeks ago I sat there in church feeling very dejected and asking the Lord what I had left to give. How I could participate in corporate worship when I had nothing left to offer, no strenght to stand, no breath to sing, no ability to even lift my hands in praise?

Though not the song being sung that morning, He immediately reminded me of the words of Matt Redman's song, "The Heart of Worship" (view on uTube link below). A few of the lines are:

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart...
I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus...

What a great reminder that everything else is external (physical strength, the gifts of voice and hands, every breath I draw) but true worship, like true beauty, is internal. When everything else is stripped away, I am still of worth, I can still be whole, because of who Jesus Christ is. He is worthy of all I am, all I have to offer, even when my offerings are meager.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

If you or someone you love is struggling with health issues, check out Rest Ministries, a wonderful organization providing support and encourgement in the face of any and every kind of chronic health challenge. This group was started by a friend of mine and has grown into an international ministry offering local support group chapters, a print magazine and many forms of online support including daily email devotionals, message bords and much more.

(If you are reading this via email and can't view the video, be sure to drop by the Hope Harvesters™ Blog to see this beautiful video for yourself.)

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."

- Psalm 73:26 (New International Version)


Georgetta Nextdoor said...

Thanks, Jenni. That was encouraging.

Kerry said...

Jenni, Thank you for posting about your experience and the peace you came to, even "When All is Stripped Away". It is a comfort to know we are not alone in what we experience with CFS...even in doing our best to participate (in a struggling body) during a church service.

I haven't been able to physically attend church in many years. With the help of my new walker, pillows for my arms and the help of my hubby, I'm getting there sometimes. I also often have to sit when others stand and can't participate in parts of the service.

I used to sing (loudly in church, was even a part of the music group in my younger days.) Now my singing is a whisper (due to weak muscles). I have a form of Myasthenia Gravis that has accompanied CFS. Last year before MG medication I couldn't sing at all. Now, being able to "whisper sing" is a joy. I have learned that singing from the heart is what matters (whether or not anyone else can hear).

Sandie said...

Very nice blog and post.


Maureen Hayes said...

Jenni, I am going through my own rough patch and I so appreciated your post. Of course I know it to be true, but sometimes I need to be reminded. Thank you for giving me that reminder in a loving and supportive way and for spreading God's love to so many.


Maureen Hayes said...


I nominated you yesterday on my blog for a Kreativ Blogger Award. When you get a chance, pop by blog and claim your award, and then pass it on as you see fit.

Thank you for always posting with honesty. I feel your writing speaking to me in a special way and I always enjoy your posts. Keep up the great work. Keep inspiring others.

Love and gentle hugs,

mylifesnhshands said...

Hi Jenni,

What a comfort to read your story (Aug.) Been struggling through life's trials/challenges and to know God's leading in my life. It's refreshing to know that amidst challenges in life, God is too good to be unkind.. God is with you. Never give up! Blessings in many ways.
In Christ,