Orignially posted at irvingbible.org.
With our vision of A Transformed People, A Transformed City, I’ve found myself wondering exactly what does a person who has been transformed by Christ look like? Would I recognize them? How would they transform a city?
As I’ve pondered those questions and started looking around at our people, I’ve started seeing some beautiful examples of lives transformed by the hope of the Gospel. People whose lives are changed simply because they have come in contact with Jesus and everything is different now. They are walking through all sorts of different circumstances, and transformation looks different in each of their lives, but it’s there. It’s happening.
Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with one such example of a transformed person, Nora. As we sat down to talk at IBC, she greeted me with her bright and warm smile. She’s always welcoming, always cheerful, always ready to ask how I’m doing when I see her around IBC. I’ve known Nora for a while now, have seen her working hard in KidZone each week. I’ve seen her at church on a Sunday trying to keep up with her adorable son, Daniel, but, what I didn’t know is that Nora has been battling constant pain:
“For the last eight years, I’ve been on this journey of constant back pain and leg numbness. We thought it was anything from diabetic nerve pain, then we thought it was something to do with my actual back then we thought it was sciatica. It is pinched right now, but that’s not the total answer. I’ve seen surgeon after doctor after neurosurgeon This year has been an experiencing of learning to walk when your legs are numb.”
Yet, you would never, ever guess that this joy-filled woman in front of you was in constant pain. She shares with a transparency about her pain without any self-pity and when I expressed sorrow at what has happened to her, she is quick to point out the ways that God is at work.
“The coolest things have happened because of this. I have phone numbers to family members I didn’t know because there is a huge rift in our family that my mom happened to cause. So, I have the physical phone numbers of family members, family members who happen to have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (which is what the doctors now think I have), who happen to know what I’m going through. I have so many members in my family who have passed away from MS, who are currently living with MS, I have so many more connections now because of this.
You want know how your circle at church works? Give them a hard diagnosis. You will see people come out of the woodwork and be like: ‘I don’t mind sitting with your son while you have a nerve test.’ ‘I can give you a ride.’ Another IBCer who has MS, ‘I can help you with your questions, I have a neurosurgeon, here is a specialty center than can help you once you get insurance.’ They all have been so quick to jump in and help whenever I’ve needed it.”
In addition to the medical side of things, other parts of this journey have had their challenges as well, such as having to pay cash since they don’t have insurance. Again, Nora is quick to say how she has seen God show up again and again.
“It’s been amazing to see how the Lord has provided throughout this journey. I don’t ever want to take that lightly. The Lord has provided each step. How would you get an MRI half-off? How would you get an open MRI without an additional charge without the Lord working? Even though this year has been hard, it’s been fun to see the places where the Lord has shown up.”
And when God started nudging her to be more involved, she didn’t waver. She just jumped in with both feet.
“IBC is my church home, it is my worship. I do women’s Bible Study, I go to church here, I volunteer here, and I work here. Yet, there has been this upheaval where I feel led to do more. So I’m starting as a Bible study leader, not just attending. I’ve been with the same group of women since I started here in 2010, and they’ve been together since 2008-2009. And I’ve started thinking, ‘what do I do with all that I’ve learned from them?’ And I thought, ‘well, I could lead a Bible study table.’
So that’s my first step in getting out of the boat like Peter and moving forward and seeing where this journey leads me. Even though I’m dealing with all these others things in my life.”
This right here is an example of a life being transformed by the Spirit of God. I hope you get the chance to meet Nora face-to-face. You will see the love of Jesus coming from her smile, her warm greeting, her honesty, and her hope.
As we were wrapping up our conversation, she shared with me something her dad tells her whenever she is in need of a pep-talk. He also has an autoimmune disease and recently survived cancer. He tells her to just, “keep walking, even if it hurts. Just do it step by step. Keep walking.” I think that’s good advice for each one of us as we walk this path into transformation. It’s not always easy, but it’s what we do. We listen to Jesus, we get out of the boat, and we take each step, hour by hour, day by day.