"I think you have M.S."

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"Bread, Not Serpents"
Kate's personal account of being diagnosed with MS

My mind raced to process everything. My first house -- a dream come true! A New job! Talks of marriage! A slight but consistent numbness in my left side... The year 2000 changed my life.


In June I started a new job. Within the first month, I had one shift that unexpectedly lasted 24 hours. They told me to "expect some overtime"...
In July I turned 27, and went under contract to buy my first house! By the first of August I couldn’t eat. It was taking me three to four hours to get to sleep at night, as opposed to the usual five minutes. My mind raced to process everything.

In late August I attended a conference. It actually brought some peace to my storm. I came away with a longing to know more about the holiness of God, and the cross of Christ. I think God was just getting started.

In late September I moved into my little "fixer upper" and started working on it with a fevered determination. I had a lot of work ahead of me. (It occupied every spare minute outside of work for 9 months)

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:: Stress And Numbness ::

I was losing some control of my left hand. Before moving, I had noticed a slight but consistent numbness in my left side. I figured it was stress and would go away after I got moved in. But it didn't, and I was losing some control of my left hand. I was not able to do some everyday activities like type or play guitar. Being a songwriter, this scared me the most.
I would not have insurance until November.
In early October, my curent dating relationship ended. We agreed that he needed time alone with God. I needed to stop playing Psychologist!

In November I had two MRIs and three rounds of blood tests. I was becoming very fearful and struggled with waiting and not knowing. By now, it had been seven weeks. Did I have a tumor? Or brain cancer? Would I be paralyzed by a strange disease, and not be able to work and lose the house I just bought? I was only 27!
I talked to a friend one Sunday at church. She shared from Matthew chapter 7, "If a child of God should ask Him for bread, will He give them a stone or a serpent?"
I was immediately convicted that I had been bracing myself to receive a serpent from God. What a negative view I had of Him! She said that no matter what the news may be, God would use that as "bread" in my life to bless me. That following Wednesday I met with a neurologist. I thank the Lord that by then, He had been teaching me to look for bread and not serpents. He was already using this situation to bring about some much-needed changes in my life. And God was just getting started.

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:: You Have MS ::

The doctor told me that he thinks I have Multiple Sclerosis. He thinks I’ve had it for 6 years and that it’s a mild case if I’m not any worse off than I am now. He said I’m very healthy. This was my first portion of bread. Don’t get me wrong: I was still afraid. I didn’t know anything about MS.
The next portion of bread was the realization of what brings on an MS attack: among other things, stress and malnutrition. I found myself re-evaluating my priorities. For 10 years I’ve struggled with this. Even after learning to examine the heart issues involved, I would still find myself regularly over-extended. But now, if I didn’t prioritize, I would be risking permanent nerve damage. I would be risking never being able to play my guitar again! Suddenly, my priorities were becoming much clearer. This was just the help I’ve always needed! The third portion of bread was discovering the freedom in being weak. All I ever have to be is what God made me to be. I would soon discover that this is easier said than done.

One night I started writing in my journal. I needed to get my head clear. 2 & 1/2 hours and ten pages later, God showed me what I was really "suffering" from. I started to see what a "social savior" I’ve always tried to be; striving to say the right thing, respond well to every trial, be what I thought "whomever" wants me to be. I had to develop MS to see that I just can’t stand up to the image I’d created. I brought this on myself!

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:: A Bigger Picture ::

It was all coming together. All of my struggles actually stemmed from only one problem, one issue. It's common; nothing mysterious. It's why I drew a blank when I thought about the gospel. It's why I can't "see" the holiness of God. It's why I am not so concerned about my sin. It's why I get over extended. It's why I am so often overwhelmed and stressed out whether I’m really busy or not. It's why I over estimate my abilities and underestimate my limits. I believe it's why I developed MS and would be the cause of any permanent nerve damage. It's why I am forever missing the time to do the things that I really want to do.

It has left my spirit bankrupt and joyless on many occasions, even when surrounded by people I love. It has kept me from relating to my friends like I need and want to. My biggest threat right now is not MS. It's self-righteousness.

If I think I am a good person, the social savior I've tried to be, I don't need a Savior myself. Can I really afford to think that way? If I don't acknowledge my sins, and lay them on Jesus' precious back to be punished, than I will have to stand before God and take the due punishment for my sins, myself! Do I really believe that I can bear the weight of my sin? It's no wonder we try to minimize our sin. But who are we fooling? "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galations 6:7)
Oh, I DO need a Savior! There is so much more to learn about our holy, loving Father who would send his only precious Son to take our well deserved punishment. For every time my actions made the statement that God could not be trusted to move, to rescue, or or provide soon enough... there was an act of treason against The Most High God.

So what is REALLY my greatest need? For my recent MS symptoms to be healed or for my life-long distrust and blasphemous portrayal of my Creator to be addressed? ...For my hands to be free of numbness or my heart to be free of the due punishment of my sin?

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:: My Greatest Need ::

Studying the cross of Christ is very good medicine! C.J. Mehaney said that in studying the cross, we come to better understand God's holiness and our sin. My precious Father was leading my every step towards Himself! He had me right where He wanted me all along... ordering every step, including those I feared. Coming to this understanding in a season of "weakness" was providential.

It's only after finding the freedom from trying to keep up appearances, that I could discover the freedom in being weak. If my life is so cluttered that I can't enjoy my Creator, the beauty He's created around me, and the amazing grace that He has extended towards me... than my life does not please Him. No matter how "noble" my clutter appears.

Today, I thank God for the very slight numbness that remains in my hands. I praise God that He gave me full use of them again. But there remains for me a reminder of the Father who gave me bread and not serpents. "The Lord is near to the broken hearted." "He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Zephaniah 3:14-17 jumps off the page at me now...

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD , the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Psalm 16 has become a comfort to me.

Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge. I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing". As for the saints who are in the land, (the Body of Christ-my local church and my family) they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods (self sufficiency)... Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup (and my limitations). You have made my lot secure, the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places... (weather I always see it that way or not) Because He's at my right hand I'll never be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and I rejoice for my body will also rest secure, for You'll not abandon me to the grave... You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence and eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

And then, I'll play music for Him with no numbness! And He'll have me right where He wants me.

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:: Mud pies ::

The following is the song that came from all of this.
Every difficult situation carries the potential for a great song!

Mud Pies
by Kate Rockey
Copyright 2001

A voice in me would say "I've earned all I have"
So my hands are calloused and my heart longs for rest
Making these mud pies isn't much but it's mine
I don't understand this voice calling
I hear a voice calling, saying

Come with Me to the ocean
You've never seen all that I AM
Put away your striving and come with Me

Work's good for something in the grand scheme of things
But what have I really, that I did not receive
Surely my efforts are not all in vain
Just those that drove my heart far away
But then I heard You say
You said...

Come with Me to the ocean
You've never seen all that I AM
Put away your striving and come with Me

Give me wider eyes; that I could take in this view of holiness
A greater mind I'll need to ponder Your wisdom
Renew this wayward spirit in the light of Your glory reveal everything
A stronger heart is already mine as this moment changes me

Also inspired by: "The Weight of Glory" by CS Lewis


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