Thursday, September 28, 2017

Surgery for the Soul

Since my pancreas was removed, together with my spleen, and the 'Islets of Langerhan' previously housed in the pancreas were transplanted into my liver, my life has changed. Gone is the dreadful pancreatic pain of the last 20+ years, and gone is the fear of yet another admission to hospital with an attack of acute pancreatitis. I think over 100 such admissions in the last 20 years is enough for anyone! One of the things that has changed for me, apart from the obvious joy of hoping to travel and maybe preach again from early next year, is the need to regularly check my blood glucose levels. At the moment I need to do this 8 times daily. I also have to inject Insulin for possibly up to 6 months until the Islets develop their own blood supply in the liver where they have been placed.

This constant checking before meals and 2 hours after and even during the night, is to prevent glucose rising to levels (9+ mol) that could damage the transplant. I really don't want to do anything that would undo the wonderful work that was done in me by Professor White and his team. Yet checking is an annoying practice causing my poor fingers to protest at all this blood-letting! I can tell by this though that all is well with my amazing surgical outcome.

I don't believe that God wants his children to be constantly looking inward or navel-gazing but I do recognise the need for occasional checking in my spiritual life too.  This is just to see that we are not doing any harm to the wonderful work that God has done in us when he saved us.  I recall that few lines from the hymnbook of ancient Israel, the book of Psalms, that says "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Ps 139:23-24). Jesus also initiated what we know as the communion service or Eucharist, and in it we are told to examine our hearts and see if all is well with God's work within us.

I am glad that the Professor's work in me has been so successful this far, but I am more glad that God has also begun a work in me that offers me new life and a new start each day. After saying farewell to a dear friend at her funeral service last week, I am also glad that this work in us leads on into everlasting life.  Surgery for the soul if you like!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Let Some Things be Sacred

Another terrorist attack has just happened in London and many hundreds of people who were on the train that was bombed will be grateful today that they are still alive. According to the news media, the bomb did not fully detonate and so mass fatalities were narrowly avoided. We can thank God for this small mercy in what would otherwise be a significant disaster. What compounds this dreadful act is that those who perpetrate such things do so in the name of their god. Well, he isn't my God and if you want to know what he is like, you only have to look at the person and deeds of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace!

But I was really concerned that the national newspaper I bought the following day contained page after page of intense analysis, pointing out how such a device could be made from information online. There was even a detailed account of what it presumed the police and MI5 would be doing in order to catch the culprit.  Wouldn't it be much better and safer to keep some things under wraps until a later stage when their investigations are more advanced?  And should certain subjects be off-limits completely? Of course, we have grown accustomed to this level of media speculation but we should not forget that it is being done to sell papers and make a profit.

I felt the same when the news media reported the fact that a stalker had got access to the school where Prince George is studying. They included close details of when and where the school is, what security it has in place, the positions of security cameras etc and even how and where the police might be setting up their presence there. What a giveaway to any terrorist group wanting to do the royal family and the nation harm.

Some years prior to the Good Friday agreement that brought the Irish 'troubles' to an end, the government told the media to cease giving terrorists the oxygen of publicity. Now I am not suggesting that such draconian methods would be right today, but surely there is a place for certain aspects of news to be played down, or even kept to the relevant authporities at least for the time being? What do you think?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Destruction in Paradise!

 We have had the joy of living and working in what many would describe as an island paradise. I am referring to Seychelles, a wonderful chain of fabulous islands in the Indian Ocean. We found the humidity and heat to be quite challenging but there were so many positive things to enjoy and even to marvel at. Thankfully there were no hurricanes in that part of the world, but there were occasional heavy storms of torrential rain.  My heart goes out, therefore, to the folk living in the chain of islands in the Caribbean which have been so badly hit this week by Atlantic storm Irma. Their glorious paradise has been turned into chaos and disaster by this huge storm and even lives have been lost in its destructive track.
It must be so hard to find a lovely homestead or other property being trashed by the powers of nature. The fear and dread among children and adults alike must be great, especially when evacuation is not as easy as it might appear on the US mainland. I am praying for those affected by Irma and all involved in rescue, recovery and repair, as there is another storm expected soon in that part of the world.

It seems to me that we need to realise that sometimes our dreams of paradise and a fabulous lifestyle on Earth surrounded by the warm waters of the Caribbean, may be just a pipe-dream. There will also probably be cruise liners taking shelter at this time, robbing the hopeful passengers of visits ashore in this blighted archipelago. But this is a much more normal understanding of life. In the most sublime of situations, dreadful storms can come and cause us so much pain. Whether through family upheaval or divorce, sickness and pain, redundancy or loss of meaningful work through retirement, our image of a great life can be spoiled in short order. This is one of the reasons why I have published at least 2 books on the subject of storms - Braving the Storm and Storm Force and am currently working on at least one more (After the Storm!)

Jesus led his first-century followers through many storms - quite literally on the changeable waters of the Sea of Galilee - teaching them that in the most awful storms threatening our lives and dreams, he wants to be with us and see us through. After 20 years of being struck repeatedly by one of the most painful illnesses it is possible to endure, Diane and I have proved again and again that life can be rebuilt, and even if not down here, there is a Paradise that awaits Christ followers that no storm can destroy.