Friday, March 27, 2015
For that reason alone my pain becomes more bearable. But there is more. This Jesus did not stay dead. Against all scientific reason and historic precedence he rose again on the third day. Now by his death and bodily resurrection Jesus becomes the means of my own redemption from sin and death. My pain is temporary. It may be extreme at times, and I long for it to be over, but even if I am not healed this side of eternity, and I pray ever day that I will be, I know where I am going when I do die. Not for me the 'hope so' uncertainties of balancing scales or trying to climb a crumbling pile of good works to see over my skip loads of mistakes and regrets, no! Because he lives then we who trust him will also live! His empty grave is our visa and his book of life our passport.
So in this momentous week for every Christian I set off to face the uncertainties of a delicate and dangerous surgical procedure knowing that all will be well. Easter changes everything. 'Calvary covers it all'.
Friday, March 20, 2015
In the last few months I have been back and forth to London with monthly interventions at University College London Hospital. Each time we have been there Diane and I have looked at each other and said 'this must surely be the last time!' but we have been wrong. Despite the dangerous and difficult nature of these surgical procedures, and the fact that I seem to be becoming immune to the anesthetics being used so that the last couple of occasions are clear in my memory, it seems that I must have yet another one. So we will leave for London on March 30th for admission on the morning of Tuesday 31st and spend a few more days away while we seek an answer to my desperate situation.
But this step by step approach to medicine and treatment is no stranger to the Christian pilgrim. Our journey of faith is one of daily increments in our walk with God. Any attempt to hurry the divine will or rush ahead seems doomed to failure as we discover that this Christian life is a walk and not a mad dash to heaven! 'Step by step as you go the way shall open before you' is God's promise to us all and we need daily grace to be able to accept that.
So despite the natural fear and disappointment of facing it all again, I guess I need to stretch out and take one more step on this journey, praying that the outcome will turn out to have been a giant leap in securing victory and getting well again. Please Lord!
Saturday, March 07, 2015
The Bible tells us about a leader like that. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to one Diotrephes asking him to engage in debate, and the church leader refused. According to the text Diotrephes 'loved the pre-eminence' or 'loved being first' and felt he was above entering into debate with anyone, least of all Paul. Truth be told, he was probably afraid that he might lose that theological contest and so refused to budge, but the real reason was arrogance. In the case of a previous UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a very similar haughtiness preceded her political downfall. "Pride" as the saying goes "precedes a fall".
I don't expect either my consultant or the Prime Minister will suffer any great consequences from not being willing to answer questions and debate their position, but after a lifetime of leadership roles within the church, I hope for better things from Christian leaders. Diotrephes is a very poor role model for Christian leaders, who should always be ready to give an answer for the faith that is within them, for their conduct, and for the sacred charge that is given to them by the Lord. Any leader who finds him or herself loving 'being first' should note the example of Jesus who washed his disciples feet and declared that they who desire to be first among us should be servants of all. That is a long way from the kind of leadership we see in the worlds of politics and medicine, but we are entitled to expect better of those who lead the church.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The same is true of course, in other areas of our lives. When there is a blocked duct or tube then communication is hindered and the whole of life gets out of kilter. Whether in our minds or in our marriages, we need to keep using the old plunger if we want to stay healthy. In the Bible book of Genesis 26:17 the Old Testament character Isaac went to the wells that his father Abraham had used and which had been filled up and blocked with stones and soil and he cleared them out. This determination to clear out the ducts and draw water from the same source as his godly father brought Isaac mixed blessings. His enemies hated him all the more for it but God saw his actions and commended him by repeating the promises to Isaac that He had first made to his dad. A cleared duct was all it took for Isaac to be completely renewed in his faith.
I wonder what might be blocking your ducts? I know what's blocking mine and it will mean yet another trip back to hospital in London eventually to get it sorted out. But there are plungers we can use for some of the other channels that get stopped in our lives. Forgiveness, re-commitment, surrender, prayer, all can assist us in getting the life-giving ducts of our hearts clear. Whatever it takes it must be easier than what I am facing, so why wait? Get plunging today!
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Well, I suppose the old adage holds some truth, that time does heal. I have forgotten the feelings of frozen fingers and toes, the soaking wet freezing mess that goes down your neck when snow falls off the roof onto your shoulders. And mostly, I have allowed the pain of that experience to fade and am ready for another go! What? Am I crazy? Or maybe I am not alone in this child-like delight in a blanket of snow on a winter's morning.
The truth is that it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and even in the most adverse of circumstances there is something we can marvel at if we have a mind to try. The old story is told of two men who looked out of the same prison bars, one saw the mud and the other the stars. It is all a matter of perspective and, awful as it was, those terrible days of March 2013 did pass, and dear Maggie, our grand-daughter, is doing well now and we love her very much. My wound did eventually heal and I did get to Southampton to be alongside Diane.
And I wouldn't mind if it snowed tonight! Do you think it will? Oooooh - how exciting is that?
Friday, January 16, 2015
Our God is a healing God. One of his names is 'the God that heals you' and even before Jesus began his amazing miracle ministry God has revealed his desire to heal and restore those whose lives have been blighted by disease. My long experience of illness has not dimmed my understanding of this great truth nor my hope that he will heal me. I submit to his sovereignty and great wisdom, and acknowledge that he has plans for my life that I cannot understand this side of eternity, but my hope is in God - not in the medics. That does not make me anti-medicine. No, I am pro-recovery and that puts me on the same side as the medics!
I was deeply moved by the kindness expressed in the voice of a young registrar from University College London hospital who telephoned me today to say they are expecting me next week. I felt sorry for his obvious frustration and sympathy for me in my extremely painful condition, and was touched by his desire to help me. I am grateful, but I wanted to reassure him that I am not expecting him to heal me. To treat me yes - but not to heal me - because that job belongs to God. And into his loving, healing hands I commend myself once again.
Friday, January 09, 2015
Recalling my long habit of getting very frustrated by diversions and sudden changes of plan I remember one wag suggesting that such things are sent to enable our souls to catch up with our bodies. I doubt very much that my soul is far behind my body these days as I have slowed down considerably, but there is a lesson in this for me anyhow. These changes of my plan are not unplanned - it's just a different plan! There is a higher power who knows what he is about even if I don't! I was supposed to be having surgery this January at the Princess Elizabeth hospital in Guernsey but the anesthetist decided I was too unfit to proceed. Apparently I need to get back to London and face another of these difficult and dangerous pancreatic procedures to replace yet another prematurely blocked stent. I can feel my soul trying to tell me to calm down and keep trusting.
So it is more of the same in this New Year. All I pray is that I may know him more clearly and follow him more nearly so that my diversions will be guided by His all seeing eye. Happy New Year!