Everything was going great in her life. She was at the top of her field. Money and awards were rolling in on a regular basis. Life was pretty much perfect. And then it happened. That one pesky health problem that just wouldn’t go away led to doctors doing bloodwork. After several tests, the answer was clear. She had Sjrogen’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which attacks the glands in the body. Common story, right? It’s not when you’re Venus Williams, who’s considered one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.
When Venus was diagnosed with Sjrogen’s, she was rated first in the world of tennis. Within a couple of years of her diagnosis, she fell to 135. Because of her illness, she had to withdraw from a number of competitions. So last week when Venus won the semifinal of the Australian Open, her response was enthusiastic, to say the least. Venus went on to play against her sister Serena Williams in the finals, and even though Serena is the one who walked away with the trophy, I can’t help but think the true winner was Venus, someone who literally had to fight her way back to the top.
Venus’ story resonates with me. Although I’m not a world-famous anything, I do understand being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and having life crumble around me. I know what it’s like to have plans for my life, and then have those plans come to a screeching halt. Sickness has a way of doing that.
Like most people who have plans and dreams for their lives, I’ve worked hard to get where I am today. The problem is, I’m not where I want to be. What I’ve envisioned for my life is seemingly out of reach. No matter how hard I try, the dream seems so far away. And like a child on a road trip, I can’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. We need to dream and make goals. Yet far too often, we become so focused on where we’re going that we miss where we are. We start to wonder if God really did give us that dream and goal to work towards. As thoughts like this fill our minds, we slowly lose the drive and determination to carry on in the pursuit of our dreams. Even worse than becoming too focused on our plans for the future is forgetting that God deems today just as important as our tomorrows. The future is made up of todays. If we want to see the fulfillment of our dreams, we have to be willing to be in the moment today. That's why this week's name of God is so important. YHWH, or Yahweh, means "I Am."
It's so easy to praise God when good things happen in our lives, when He shows up in a big way. Yet God is so much more than that. Not only is He Lord of the mountaintop, but He's Lord of the valley. He is Lord of the mundane. He's there in the daily grind when we need to wash a pile of laundry and clean the kitchen but just want to go to bed. He's working in our lives when we are paying the bills, going to the grocery store, and wondering what we’ll eat for dinner. He's Lord over the big things in our lives, as well as the small. He is I Am.
Today is important. If we want to reach the future we hope for, we have to believe God for today, even if it means going through difficulties. We see this truth in Exodus 3:14, which is the first time we see the name YHWH, when God gives the name to Moses. In case you don’t remember, Exodus 3 is when Moses encountered the burning bush and had his first conversation with God. When God finally convinces Moses to go to Egypt to help the children of Israel, Moses asked God what he was supposed to say when he was asked who had sent him. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
I love this passage of Scripture because we see Moses being told he was going to have to do something he didn’t want to do. He had a victory coming, but in order to get there, he had some things he had to do first. But, it was going to be okay because I AM was there.
Do you know YHWH? He’s the God who never changes. His promises never fail. He’s got a wonderful future in store for each of us, and He’s walking with us through each step of the journey. He is Lord of today. Do you see Him? Are you looking?
“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” ~ Malachi 3:6
© February 2, 2017