By Rev. Teri McClanahan
About the Author: Rev. Teri McClanahan is an Ordained Deacon, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary.
Sometimes in life, we are confronted with significant challenges that bring us to an abrupt halt. We face a wall that seems to stretch from horizon to horizon and reaches heights unscalable. There appear to be no doors and windows. We are stuck, waiting for a way beyond the current situation. Try as we may, there is nothing we can do to alter the situation, so we pray and plead to God for an immediate fix. But nothing happens, and time presses on. I experienced such a challenge eight years ago.
There was a waiting period between being told I had cancer and the onset of treatment. There was nothing I could do but wait on the doctor’s report. So much crossed my mind. The obvious questions were what type of cancer? Has it spread throughout my body? Where were my major organs impacted? Was there a cure? Could I survive the treatment? How do I tell my family? The big question – was I going to die?
That was one of the most challenging times in my life. And there was nothing I could do! I had to wait.
I’m a task-oriented type of person. I like to control as many variables as possible. When faced with challenges and obstacles, I charge in and seek solutions. I fix it; I make it better. Not only do I fix my problems, but I also fix others’ problems. People come to me seeking solutions. That was my life before cancer. As Jerry Bridges (2008) says in his book, Transforming Grace, I was not living by the grace of God; instead, I was living by the “sweat of my brow.” I worked hard in life. Somehow, I thought that if I worked harder, I would have success. I was driven, committed, and didn’t bother God with the details of my life. But then I had my “road to Damascus” experience. Like Saul, I was transformed through the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
It took two weeks before I had all my questions answered by the doctor and was placed into treatment. I experienced the most miraculous changes in my life during those two weeks. I prayed that God would change my circumstances, that the doctors had made a mistake, and that God would remove this thorn from my side. As opposed to changing my situation, God transformed me. I went from being a person of little faith to one of great faith and devotion. I stepped out of my mundane existence into the grace and wonder of God. I gave up control of my life and let God guide and direct me. I was free!
Ephesians 2:8-9 says God’s grace saves us through our faith. My transformation extended beyond being saved by grace; I learned to live each day of my life by God’s grace. Psalm 25:5 says, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” As I humbled myself before God, I relinquished all control of my life to Him. God led me to his throne of grace and mercy. God taught me the art of patient rest and the knowledge of His divine plan for my life. I let the Spirit guide my thoughts, and I had peace for the first time in my life. This wasn’t just a one-time experience. I had peace daily. Even when it seemed I could go no; further, I let the Spirit guide me back to that place of peace with my Father.
When confronted with life’s challenges, I no longer contemplate the solution. I seek God in prayer, and I let the Spirit guide me in the path I should take. Sometimes, the answer does not come instantaneously. But as I wait, I do so with the assurance that it is God’s divine plan for my life. I maintain a posture of joyful hope, patience, and faithful prayer (Romans 12:12).
Bibliography: Bridges, Jerry, Transforming Grace, Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love, 2008. NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.