Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the third day of Advent, 2020, Janet McKinney recounts the despair she felt as she experienced lockdown in hospital and the surprising ways God showed up in the midst of darkness.
Met in the wilderness
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
About 20 years ago I came face to face with a part of my nature that was ugly. It didn’t reflect the nature of God through me. I was controlling and manipulative, though I did not know it. But there it stood to my attention and it was ugly. I was ashamed. A broken spirit as a child when I was sexually abused meant that I had grown a hard shell around my inner being so I could not be hurt again.
Our gracious Father had ensured that this revelation happened in a safe place during a time of prayer ministry. I knew immediately I needed to repent: to turn from this part of my nature and receive the gift of forgiveness. The Lord gave me this text from Ezekial as a promise that he had indeed sprinkled me clean and cleansed my impurities. He gave me a new heart, a new spirit and removed my heart of stone. In its place he has given me a heart of flesh.
This healing experience taught me that I no longer needed to control my environment and circumstances. Instead, by resting in the eternal love of God for me, I will be surprised how He turns negative circumstances into ones of great joy and deepening of faith. I no longer had to prove to myself, God and others that I could do things for God. Instead, I could allow God to do his plan through me. In living out this lesson, 2020 has been both a hard year and a year of great blessings for me.
I have a disability due to defective genes that cause connective tissue to break down. In July 2019 I had another fall, dislocating my left patella, but worse still dislocating the bones and damaging all the ligaments in my right knee. Surgery is not an option because I do not heal well. I am now either in bed or wheelchair and require a hoist and sling for any transfers for the rest of my life. To date, I have spent 15 months in hospital because I need specialised housing and nothing has been available. By the time you read this, I hope to be sharing a house with another lady with a disability and receiving 24-hour care and support.
I have been surprised by the presence and love of God through an exceedingly difficult time. Lockdown in hospital is just that: exceedingly difficult. We could have only one visitor per day, who were thoroughly screened and we were unable to leave the premises. In a time of depression, I was deeply lonely for spiritual connection and communion. When I felt a desire to die I called for help and God came in the form of a Muslim doctor. We had the most wonderful, respectful discussion on faith and it met the deep need within my spirit. I found on YouTube some music used in Catholic Mass. It spoke to my deep need for the love and word of the Lord.
No matter what circumstances you are in, ask yourself, “where is God in this time?” What is God doing right now where you are? Who is bringing the Spirit of God to minister to your spirit in your dark time? How can technology provide you with spiritual food and nourishment when you are isolated from your usual sources? God has not deserted you in your time in the wilderness – indeed he is waiting there to meet with you.
Janet McKinney’s life changed profoundly six years ago when the gradual deterioration of her body due to the genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos, stole the last of her capacity for pain free mobility. After a fall in July 2019, she has been hospitalised and accepted she will never stand on her own feet again. Janet is learning the joy of being ministered to by others and relying on the generosity of taxpayers (NDIS) to perform even life’s most basic functions. She worships with the Anglican community in Canberra.