“You get used to it,” Jesus said.
I’d settled into a folding chair inside the barn across from one of my horse friends, Loki. She’s a giant Clydsdale paint that I’ve become acquainted with at the small farm I frequent on a weekly basis. I’ve become pretty good friends with the three horses who live there, and because it was so stinking hot out that day, I’d asked Loki if she was as hot as I was.
And that’s when I heard Jesus say, “You get used to it.”
Now I’ve grown pretty accustomed to hearing from the Lord when I’m there at the ranch. It’s just one of those places that’s so filled with the Presence of God that it’s palpable. So, when He spoke, I knew there was a lot more to it than a simple comfort.
Loki stood in her open box stall, her giant head stretched beyond the stall door, looking at me, quite content with the temperature over 100 degrees. I’m not used to that kind of heat at all. Sweat dripped across my forehead faster than I could wipe it away with my shirt sleeve.
“You get used to it.”
The Lord was speaking to my heart and I was all ears. I’m certainly not used to the heat! Air conditioning is my friend and to me the heat seems like a terrible, terrible thing. To Loki, though, it was just another hot day in a series of hot days that would come and go in time.
I’ve gotten used to a lot of things in my lifetime. Air conditioning for one, and vacations, and food on the table. I love church services and coffee dates with friends and wifi and smart phones and cable tv. I’m definitely used to all of that.
But I’ve also gotten used to depression that lasted for months at a time, knees so bad I can barely walk, and constant chronic illness. I spent three years bleeding to death because surgery was even more life threatening. I got used to anemic fatigue and low oxygen concentration and blood transfusions and doctor’s visits. I got used to slowly dying a little more day by day by day.
Sitting in the heat that day with Jesus made me uncomfortable, but I noticed something else, something beyond the discomfort. I felt joy. I really liked sitting there with my friend, Loki. It’s like my therapist is always saying to me, it can be both. I can be uncomfortable AND happy. I can be in physical pain AND be at peace. I can be brave AND be afraid. I can hate the heat and love being with that horse. God made us complicated and that’s a good thing!
Two years ago I decided to stop bleeding to death and get the surgery that would likely kill me. Like I said, I’d suffered for three years bleeding to death and getting transfusion after transfusion just to stay alive. Tests showed a lot of problems going on internally. Logic told my specialist surgeon that I likely wouldn’t survive the surgery. He only finally agreed to do it because I’d had so many blood transfusions that my body was going to start rejecting the blood I was getting and that would kill me.
So, in the summer of 2019 I had the life saving surgery that would likely kill me and I survived. I spent a month in the hospital, weeks in the ICU on a ventilator, and months in rehabilitation afterwards, but I lived.
I now like to think of the Summer of 2019 as the time when I decided I no longer wanted to just get used to being sick and dying. I wanted to live. My scripture verse in that season was Psalm 118:17 “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
For so long I thought I had to suffer to experience God’s full power and love. After all, He’d gotten me through so much and Jesus did say no servant is greater than his Master. But it truly is a work of God to live abundantly all the time. To live in trouble and peace. There is a time and purpose and a season for both.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
I got used to being in a season of suffering. It was all I knew how to do. It’s how I survived, and I’m so thankful for that. I know the Lord was with me in it, for better or worse. I was used to trauma and torture and ruin, and God was with me in it. Always, always with me. But now I’m getting used to something new.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
So how hot does it have to get to move beyond the discomfort and into the joy? Do you have to like the heat? No, but you can learn from it. And you can be thankful for air conditioning and thankful for a Savior who’s with you in both.
For me, sitting in the heat for a while with a big, beautiful Clydsdale is totally worth it. But now I know I don’t have to live there. I can be thankful for the air conditioning.