It’s probably one of the best things about the long-ish drive up to the mountains, the headspace and uninterrupted time with which to listen through an entire album. This morning I revisited an old favourite that I haven’t listened to for years: Third Day’s ‘Wherever You Are’.

It was released in 2005, which also happened to be the year that I got sick. Listening to the album on my drive up to Springwood this morning, I began to recall the season of life to which this album was a bit of a soundtrack.

I found myself returning to the way I first responded to the realisation that this wasn’t going to be a quick fix sickness, but a long-term disability…

And I am astounded by God’s kindness. About a month into the diagnosis process (which was leaning towards Juvenile Parkinsons), I took up 2 Corinthians 12:9 as my mantra: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. As a fifteen-year-old, I realised that my identity had been anchored in my abilities – sport, music, art, drama – and that this disability was actually a grace from God to ‘keep me from basing who I was in what I could do’ (verbatim from my journal). In hindsight, it’s absurd that I was at peace with God about this. What kind of fifteen-year-old thinks that? I am so sure that God was abundantly generous in giving me wisdom and insight into His character and purposes, such that I was very calm during what could have been a hugely tumultuous time emotionally. Don’t mistake me, it sucked, and I was upset – I had a huge pillar of my identity being ripped up from under me! But I was no where near as distressed as I could have, and should have, been.

This song is sown into my memory in a way that is associated with that time. It’s now eight years down the track that began in 2005, and looking back, whilst this song meant a huge amount to me, I couldn’t have known just how true it would be of the journey ahead.

The thing with disability, is that it gets harder the longer you have it. It might seem obvious, but it needs to be said that although humans are resilient and you adjust to a new way of life, some things do get harder. The pain is more chronic, the fight against self-doubt is tougher as your capacity slowly shrinks, and the hope of healing fades. Things that you’d always thought would be a part of your future become uncertain and insecurities have a stronger pull in your heart: maybe employers won’t want to hire you because of the risk, maybe you won’t be able to take that vocational path because you’re not confident shaking people’s hands anymore, maybe you won’t get married because no one will want the associated financial and physical and emotional baggage, and, even if you do, maybe you won’t be able to be a good mother because you’re physically incapacitated. I really am not being melodramatic; these are genuinely held fears, and I’m sure they’re felt by many of those with disabilities or chronic illness.

But, in returning to this song, I was encouraged by the faith of my fifteen-year-old self, and I was moved with thankfulness to the God who gave her the faith to trust that He was doing something good through an otherwise awful situation.

And so, today, I decided to actively trust again that His purposes in this trial are for good, and not for evil. And as you listen to this song, I invite you to do the same – wherever you are.

Mountain of God

Thought that I was all alone
Broken and afraid
But You were there with me
Yes, You were there with me
And I didn’t even know
That I had lost my way
But You were there with me
Yes, You were there with me

‘Til You opened up my eyes
I never knew
That I couldn’t ever make it
Without You

Even though the journey’s long
And I know the road is hard
You’re the One who’s gone before me
You will help me carry on
After all that I’ve been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

As I travel on the road
That You have lead me down
You are here with me
Yes, You are here with me
I have need for nothing more
Oh, now that I have found
That You are here with me
Yes, You are here with me

I confess from time to time
I lose my way
But You are always there
To bring me back again

Sometimes I think of where it is I’ve come from
And the things I’ve left behind
But of all I’ve had, what I possessed
Nothing can quite compare
With what’s in front of me
With what’s in front of me