Friday, March 27, 2015

As I prepare to leave for London again on Monday, the tenth such trip for medical help and hospital visits in the last 12 months, I can't help reflecting on the fact that it is the start of Holy Week. My particular battle is with physical pain so that for me, the cross of Calvary is very pertinent, and the sufferings of Jesus there for me seem stark and real like the sudden death of a close friend or loved one. It is amazing that my God should plan it that way so that the maker of the universe was made subject to the most appalling pain on my behalf. There was no accident about this.  Jesus did not stumble into taking my bullet - like the Indian clerk who takes the shot for the lead character in television's Indian Summers - no, he chose to go that way and experience that pain because he loves me and cares so deeply about my destiny.

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

One Step at a Time

After nearly two decades of battling serious ill health and severe pain I am learning to take each day one step at a time. It can be very difficult to do this, especially because I like to have my path well laid out before me and prefer to know where I am going and what is just around the next corner. But that is not how God has led me and life has definitely been, as the old song title has it 'One Day at a Time'.

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

Leaders who don't Listen!

Over a month ago I wrote a passionate letter to a senior medical consultant doctor asking for answers to several important questions. I have not yet received a reply, and from speaking to his assistant I know he received it but do not expect a response. At this time in the UK an election is looming and although it doesn't affect us in Guernsey I watch with interest the antics of the leaders involved. Now the sitting Prime Minister, one David Cameron, has refused to engage in debate with the leader of the main opposing party on television during the actual election campaign itself. Ed Milliband is urging him to do so, as is much of the general public, but the PM is above all that! He appears to be yet another leader who does not listen!

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.