“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (and not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and the glory of Jesus Christ.”
I don’t think this quote could be more true of my life and how I have seen God’s plans and His watch over me in spite of my circumstances.
The First Switchback. In order for you to understand, I suppose I should start at day one. May 12th, 1995- the day I was born. I was born in Rome, GA to two loving parents. On that day, my birthday, the doctors could tell that something wasn’t quite right; I had a seizure. While my mom remained at the hospital in Rome, my dad and I rode in an ambulance to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. The doctors diagnosed me with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Basically, it means that my body doesn’t respond to stress the way that most do because my body doesn’t produce Cortisol; which is essential to the stress response system. From that day on, I would be taking medicine and seeing Doctor’s of various kinds for the rest of my life.
Though this may seem like something scary and overwhelming, I have seen the Lord’s goodness through it. He brought me to some of the greatest doctors, one of whom basically raised me and ensured that I would have a childhood free of any major issues. A verse that encourages me when I think about this circumstance is Isaiah 43:1-2 which says, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
The Second Switchback. Flash forward to the summer of my junior year of high school. I had to be hospitalized for eight days while doctors concluded that I had Chrohn’s Disease. That was very difficult for me because of all the plans I had for the summer- basketball training, vacationing and such. I lost 20 pounds before being hospitalized, therefore making recovery from this summer even more difficult. My performance in sports was always where I placed my identity and now it didn’t seem as though I would regain the strength I had lost while being sick.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
It’s kind of funny because in the past I had all these plans for what I was going to do and accomplish and where I was going to go to college and as it turns out, the Lord had far different plan. A better plan.
The Third Switchback. This switchback is probably the most challenging time to look back on and remember. This happened halfway through spring semester of my freshman year in college. I had been attending Samford University and absolutely loved it. I had made wonderful friends and had been getting more involved in my sorority. It seemed like life couldn’t get any better. But, then things began to change. I received a call from my parents, one Tuesday afternoon, and they told me my doctor would be calling and they were driving all the way to Birmingham to be here for the call. Immediately, I knew this meant I would be coming home from school; my parents wouldn’t be driving to Birmingham if I was staying.
I ended up having to take medical leave from school because my endocrinologist (doctor for CAH) recommended I do so. I was devastated. Everything I had been putting my identity in at Samford was now being taken away and I didn’t know what to do.
Psalm 61: 1-3 “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; form the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge; a strong tower against the enemy.”
The Silver Lining. The Lord was doing something greater, amid these switchbacks I experienced, over the past several years. The Lord used my time at home to bring me closer to my family and come to the decision that I would be transferring to Kennesaw State University in the following year. This ended up being the best thing for me. I got involved with Campus Outreach at KSU and have met some of my closest friends. I am so very thankful for the friends that God has brought me in each phase of my life (through the switchbacks and the silver linings). Though KSU was not in my plan, the Lord has used it to bring me to His community and has fostered in me a sense of love for his people that I didn’t have previously.
My encouragement to you is that, through life’s twists and turns, know that you have a creator who is there through all of it and who is for you. Although, in the midst of trials, it can be discouraging and challenging, you have a God who is looking out for you. He’s there even when it seems like He’s not. His plans are so much sweeter and greater than we could even imagine. Romans 8:31 which says,
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him us for us all, how will he not also with Him, graciously give us all things?”