One week has past since Dwayne was admitted into the hospital. A week of pain and unanswered questions, yet at times peace and hope despite circumstances. Each day has brought a bit of improvement in Dwayne's energy levels and ability to eat, although he still is very limited in what he can do and how much he can ingest. His limbs and abdomen are quite swollen, and that seems to be getting worse each day.
I am facing Wednesday's surgery with apprehension and yet hope. From all accounts it seems it is a very difficult procedure which is tough to recover from. At the same time we believe that this may be one of the things God uses to heal Dwayne. Hopefully some of his worst symptoms will be alleviated by this surgery.
Dwayne and I are so thankful for all of the prayers to God on our behalf. We know that God is hearing and answering them. Please continue to petition God for Dwayne's healing. Please pray also that we will glorify Him in everything we do.
Life is an adventure, a journey we travel. And God walks it with us - hand in hand if we let Him. Guiding, shaping, and molding us through the circumstances. I seek to journey more intentionally here.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
What Multiplies Awe - The Unfathomable Love of God
Here I am in the hospital. I guess somehow I knew that it could get to this, but it sure has been a painful path to get here. Over the past couple of days I have experienced more pain than I have known was possible. The kind of journey you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Yet through it all, God has done something in my mind and heart that simply must come out here. The story has shaped my very core thoughts on God and must be told.
C.S. Lewis says something about pain being God's megaphone. I'd have to "amen" that. God has certainly been speaking to me. Sometimes in silence. Sometimes in a still small voice. Sometimes in that megaphone. This week I've heard them all.
And what did He say? What one thing could God say in 3 different voices - so different, so opposite?
He said, "I LOVE YOU!" And it blew me away!
Let me explain. I've been reading the book of Ruth - over and over and over again. I can't seem to get over it!
It's the story of the most beautiful woman you may ever meet in the Bible. She radiates beauty in so many actions and words and attitudes that it makes your jaw fall open. Beauty that goes so deep it stirs deeply. God put that there and He shows it through as you read the text. Hardship after hardship makes her beauty shine deeper and deeper, til you think she's some kind of unnatural superhero character. She has the capacity to love unselfishly and wonderfully
so that you realize that God shaped and formed this love in her. How? Through the same 3 voices. Silence, still small and through the megaphone.
When God shows you how desperately He loves you throught the darkness, He blows you away. It gives you such a sense of awe that you can't but fall at His feet in adoration.
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.
Today is my birthday. 38 years old. Not a special number or anything. But to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends makes my life so blessed.
Today I am facing the most difficult physical challenge in my life. The odds of my survival are so small - medically and physically. But my faith in a God who speaks to my life in such powerful and wonderful ways.... Well... It fills me with awe!
On a prayer note:
I am calling out urgently for anyone and everyone who will pray for me.On Wednesday, August 3, I am scheduled to have my left kidney taken out and the large tumor
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Ups and Downs, and Lots of Prayer
Well, this might be DH Journey, but it's JH you're getting once again. I did want to give an update to the blog to let you know the latest. Dwayne is still in hospital and likely will be for quite a while. Last night we asked our care group and friends to pray that Dwayne's doctors would agree to doing surgery to remove his diseased kidney. We have felt all along that that is what should be done, but have had no success is convincing doctors of that. (And for those of you that know me, you know that I can be fairly persuasive!) Yesterday we had a glimmer of hope as a new oncologist finally said that he thought surgery was a good choice. We were praising God, but had our bubble burst when the surgeon, who we understood was the man who would make the final decision, talked to Dwayne and simply refused to consider surgery. I went to bed rather discouraged and battled paralizing fear all night long as I prayed and prayed and listened to my heart pounding in my ears. In the morning I checked my email and read a verse sent by a friend. It's part of Psalm 142 taken from the Message. "I cry out, God, call out: 'You're my last chance, my only hope for life!' Oh listen, please listen; I've never been this low." That verse voiced my thoughts and emotions. I decided to phone the hospital to check on Dwayne and to my delight found out that he had had an amazing night. Slept well, ate breakfast, the whole bit! So off to the hospital to rejoice with him, but when I got there I heard bad news. A setback. Another terrible attack of pain, so bad by the time he was found that he couldn't even tell people what was wrong, and so help was further delayed for him. Finally some strong meds were dispensed and now he was hallucinating and restless, but the pain had subsided. And my fear was back. I sat with Dwayne and held his hand and thought of the Dr. Seuss story of the king who feels that he needs someone to hold his tail for him, who then in turn needs another person to hold his tail for him, and so on down the line. I wanted someone to be there to hold my hand too. Thankfully Dwayne's sister arrived and that helped me cope. And then a new but dear friend arrived and prayed with us and suddenly the fear began to fade and God's peace was again felt in my heart.
About mid afternoon the urologist showed up. I was armed and ready with all my arguments as to why we wanted the surgery, but they weren't needed. "We're prepared to go ahead with the operation," he said. Dwayne, his sister, and I waited until he was just out of the room before we whooped and hollered (using our indoor voices, of course!), and threw our hands into the air in praise to God. A prayer answered! It's a major surgery and difficult to recover from, but it offers a bit of hope.
The rest of the afternoon showed steady progress. Dwayne was able to eat supper, slowly but surely, and didn't have another pain episode. The evening was spent with friends and family drifting in and out of the room. So much care. So much love. So much prayer.
And so tomorrow is another day. Each day now I'm learning to wake up and, before I even get up out of bed, thank God for the day and say to Him, "I surrender my day to You, God. What are we going to do together today?" Today that was a hard prayer to pray. I suspect tomorrow that might be a bit easier.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
A Very Frightening Day
Before I begin, I need to tell you that this is not a posting from Dwayne. I am the person previously referred to as "my wife". My name is Janet. Dwayne is in the hospital as I type this. On our way back from family camp we stopped to enjoy the afternoon with some church friends when Dwayne suddenly experienced very severe abdominal pain. We drove him to Big River where the decision was made to send him by ambulance to P.A., and then on to Saskatoon. The doctors think that the tumor is causing some fluid build-up in his abdomen. They are going to reevaluate on Monday.
During our trip we had several "God appointments", as I was given the priveledge of sharing my faith with the ambulance attendant. The nurse in Big River was a Christian as was the nurse in P.A. They both encouraged us to trust in God. God has been faithful to us during this time, but this is not to say that we are without fear and sadness. I have had some very precious verses flowing through my mind, and I remind myself again that although this event took us by surprise, God was not taken unawares. We are so thankful for all the prayers on our behalf.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Creating Awe in my Life: God is a Wild Man
There are some people "in there" that scare me. When I get in that place, I'm freaked. Ever been there? A place you don't want to be. Not home. Not a safe place. In fact, a dangerous place.
Like walking into a big full warehouse where you know there are some really big dogs somewhere in there. And they guard the place. But you can't see them right now. You might meet them. Might not. But you're scared. And you don't know what's around the next corner. Why are you here?
Like going on an African safari. It's a great adventure. You might meet some really exciting sights and so you bring your camera and have it around your neck. What a exciting place. You drive around in your vehicle and look for the monkeys and the giraffes. They would be great to see. But wait. Here come a pack of lions. And they look like they've just made a kill. There's blood around their mouths and they look much more dangerous than on the TV. From the safety of your vehicle you already feel much too close. And you realize that your window is open. They're looking at you. Blood-soaked hungry lions. Great view, but I think it's time to close the window.
You travel on and the vehicle begins to break down. Now that's bad. Really bad. Because now you have to exit the safety of the vehicle. If you ever felt scared... it' now. It's one thing to do the safari from the Jeep, it's another to walk it.
In the book of Judges there are some really wild men. They are so unbelievably dangerous they scare me. They kill people in the power of God and in His Spirit! Kill them! Called by God to wipe out entire villages and armies and anyone that comes across their path in the wrong way. These men are used by God! Jephthah and Samson! Wow, these guys blow their top and are filled with the Spirit of God to do massive damage!
All my life I thought of the sort of gentle and kind side of God and the people that He uses for His purposes. And I was right in doing so. But God also used wild men. In fact, He is a wild man! Dangerous! Deadly! He kills people.
I love the description of Aslan by the beavers to the children in the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "Is he safe? O, no!" "But he is good."
I've been thinking about how to create a healthy sense of awe of God in my life. There are several things that create awe. Fear of the Lord creates a sense of awe. Awe leads to worship.
We pay homage to the things that we fear. And I need a real "fear of God". Here in the book of Judges I find it. Here's the place I was talking about - the place of scary people. Here I find that God is dangerous. He is not safe! I should be scared in a sense. Yet, He is good!
Here at Family Camp we have a worship time every day. It's easy to get "used to" it. It can get "normal". And I'd absolutely hate it if that happened to me. Now I fall to my knees. Now my adrenaline pumps! Let the sweat form on my brow as I worship! Let me NEVER be bored in the presence of the Almighty! Let me fear the Lord!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Creating Awe and Wonder
I was reading about the Isrealites in my Bible in the book of Judges today. When a rag-tag group of desert dwellers is transformed into a Canaan-conquering army, you get a little surprised. These are not fighting people. These are just simple survivers. And not really that adept survivors either. It's not like they are hardened people. God's been providing food for them - manna and water. So don't go giving them that much credit. As far as fighting goes, they mostly do it amongst themselves in quarreling and grumbling. What do they know about warfare and swords and battling tactics? Nothing. Somehow God gets them through it and they conquer most of the land. Pretty impressive. But not for the people. For God.
Now they have the land and they get the cities and the vineyards and the farms and the good stuff handed to them. Pretty cushy again. So what do they do? They stop following God! They choose to worship some stupid idol worship. What's God to do? Here He's watched over them. Here He's taken them to this place of great blessing. Here He's done everything to set them up for great joy and great worship for Him. And they abandon Him and His laws! What a frustration!
So God hands them over to be attacked and overrun by the Midianites. And I mean attacked! Midianites everywhere! Mean ones. Brutal ones! In fact, the Israelites are driven from their homes and towns and forced to run to the hills and hide in caves. Their crops are ruined. Their livestock is stolen. They're starving in caves and hiding out for their lives. Is that what it takes to get their attention? Sometimes it is. Sad isn't it? That God has to take people to such extremes just to get them to examine their lives? What's going on here?
Then I think about my cancer and what God has had to put me through just to get my attention. Just to get me to wake up and think about my life. It's sad that I had to go through all of this just to get me to focus my life and wake up to the reality of Him.
I made a spiritual commitment today that released me from my fears. It took all of this just to get me there. But I finally made it. I gave up my life. I had been needing to say to God, "I'll give you my life" for a long time. But I couldn't do it. I was clinging to that last thing. I could face a number of challenges that might be put in front of me, as long as I didn't have to give up my life. As long as I would be healed. But now I sensed God calling me to trust Him with everything. My life. And now that I have, the fear has nothing to hang onto. What can you fear when you are ready to give up your life?
Well, that's just half the story, let me tell you the other half.
Gideon is a sneaky little guy. He the youngest in the family but even he can be of some use. He comes up with a way to mill flour in a old forgotten winepress. It's not perfect, but it works well enough to not get caught and to get some food for the family. You have to be sneaky with Midianites around ready to wipe you out. And they are everywhere. So you have be really quiet about the whole thing too.
All of a sudden a man appears and says, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!" What? Who's this? And would you please keep your voice down so that no one finds us here? But it's the Lord in disguise and He's calling Gideon to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. He's even got a "plan" for Gideon. "Go in the strength that you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
This is a "plan"? This is nothing! This is the sending of a sneaky unknown guy against an oppressive nation. Absurd to say the least! What is Gideon, hiding out in a winepress, just trying to survive supposed to do? He's no leader. He's a nobody. He's got no army. He's got nothing but a little flour on his hands. And a very surprised and scared look on his face.
But what do you know, amazing things can happen when people are obedient to God! Something happens that I never expected. Gideon sends the word out and Isrealite people start coming out of the woodwork. A gathering of fighting men begin to gather around Gideon. They are ready to beat back the Midianite oppression. They're willing to fight. And they come to fight. Lots of them. 22,000. Now that's an army! Let's go!
Unfortunately, the Midianites catch word of this and they start to form their army too. Not to be outmatched, they form an army under Zebah and Zalmunna of 120,000 swordsmen. I don't know if you can picture that. I can't really, but it sounds bad. These are trained and experienced fighting men. These are the kind you don't want to mess with. They know how to use their swords.
So what to do now. Do you attack with a much smaller army? Sounds pretty stupid to try.
God speaks to Gideon at this point. "We have a problem here. You have too many men." What? Too many? You mean too few. "No, too many." And God pares Gideon's army down from 22,000 to 300. "That's perfect," says God.
And with 300 men Gideon attacks the 120,000 men of the Midianite army. Supernaturally, they win and wipe out the entire army!
Now here's my question. Why would God take for a leader a nobody schmuck like Gideon? Why would God reduce the army of Gideon from 22,000 to 300? Why would God constantly increase the odds against Himself in such unbelievable ways?
So that everyone knows it was a supernatural God-thing! How completely unbelievable! Who's going to get the glory here? Gideon? The 300? No way! You have to know that it was completely a God thing! You have to! There's absolutely no other way to explain it! And that creates such a sense of awe and wonder that it blows you away! You're awe-struck.
Awestruck is where God wants us! Awestruck is where we need to be if we want to worship. You can't worship without some sense of awe. You can't be a follower of God without some sense of awe.
But we lose it in the ordinaryness of life. The day to day dulldrums. The ho-hum of our existance. And then how do we worship in an extraordinary fashion? How do we give the glory to God in our lives? We want to live in awe and wonder, but we find it slips through our fingers like sand. So we need to go back to the stories of God! We need to go back to the wonders He has done. And once again remember them and once again relive them and once again be reminded that God does amazing things through ordinary people for His glory.
O God, let me worship you with awe and wonder for the mighty things you do! Let me glory in Your strength! Let me brag about Your greatness! Let me boast in the greatness of You! Let my mouth hang open and my hands fall to my side. This is where worship begins!
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Places of Retreat and Rest
I am a world-class daydreamer! At least that's what my former school teachers always thought about me when I was a boy in school. It came on some of my report cards. It came as comments from the teacher. It was at any moment in the day that I could let my mind wander off into a far far away land. Maybe it was what made me a reader of great novels. But it's so easy in the middle of math class to be off in the jungles with Tarzan. Or journeying to the center of the earth with Jules Verne. Or to be caught up with some dragon and princess in the middle of a classic fairy tale when you should be cleaning your room.
When the pressure and the stress of everyday life starts to get to you. You look for a place of retreat. I have done this all my life. Personally, I think that everyone does it. I just think that I do it more. It's a weakness, I know. And as an adult I still do it. Escape.
Now I do it daily. But I'm more disciplined about including God with me in my mind. It used to be my dialy run. A time of conversation with God. Usually right after a time of Bible reading and prayer, I would run the Meewasin and allow my mind to wander and meander and chat with my Creator about all the things that ran through it. What a phenomenal time of stress relief! But now things are different. Now it's more like a walk or a simple bike ride (or one of my many naps).
This week is an incredible gift to my family! We're away at a family camp! A place of retreat and rest. A place to get away. A place to recharge and rebuild. And as we do so, we are ready to face challenges that lie ahead. God, thank you for the gift! What great compassion He has shown to me. Dear God, walk with me. Talk with me. May may retreat be a retreat with You.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
We're all Dying of Cancer
The cells that make up our bodies are generally healthy cells. Good hearty cells. The kind of cells that make a body proud. Robust and strong. They all have a job to do. The red blood cells deliver the oxygen to the muscle cells and the muscle cells retract and contract to give us the strength and mobility that we need. Strong cells make up bones and organs and each do their job wonderfully. Indeed, the inside workings of our bodies should set us with such a sense of awe and wonder that when we stop to think about it, we burst into an awe-struck praise to our Maker and Creator for the wonderful job that He did in assembling such a complex system to work so well for us.
But there's a dark side to this as well. Abnormal cells. That's right. Not every cell in our body is cooperating right now. Some cells start to grow right and then they deform and develop unhealthy. They form an ugly cancer-growth and begin to multiply themselves in an agressive and dangerous way. In fact, I understand that there is some abnormally cancer-type cells in every single person's body. Right now. In everyone. Our body will send out cells to fight this cancer and a battle rages on inside us.
This is happening in every human body in the world. Cancer. It's in every single one of us. Most of us didn't even know it. At least we certainly didn't think of it. We're all dying of cancer. Our bodies are breaking down and some of us will succumb to this dreaded disease. The rest of us will fight it our whole lives. Eventually the body breaks down and we all die.
Today I read the beginning of Judges. What a discouraging beginning. This frustrating Israelite nation were supposed to drive out the Canaanite people in the land and take the land for themselves. Over and over they were warned to completely destroy the Canaanite people. Don't let any of them live. Because if you do, they will become a "thorns in your sides" and "a snare to you". Well, guess what? The Israelites didn't get rid of all the sinful influence. They let some live. And what happened? It was horrible. Like a little mold on the bread, it ruined so much and made so many people "sick".
I read it in God's Word. Cancer is just like sin. We all have a propensity to sin. Every day. All the time. I fall short of the perfect and ideal way that I am to live. Do I live up to the holiness of God. No way. I have a selfish thought every day. It pollutes my mind. It clogs up my purity. And if I don't deal with those accumulation of those thoughts. They begin to form a "growth". An unhealthy way of living.
So each day I have to begin with a cleansing. Each night I have to complete my day with cleansing. Total and complete cleansing. I need to get rid of the bad "cells" and wipe them out. And confession is how I do it. Every day.
I've not lived today perfectly. I've not kept my mind on You and on what is holy. I've allowed pride to slip in. I've allowed selfishness to slip in. If I try to clean myself up, I'll never get myself cleaned up. I need Your cleansing. Total and complete. Please forgive me with the power of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness and give me His righteousness.
Then the amazing power of God comes though to clean. It misses nothing. It wipes out bad "cells" completely. We are made so completely clean and whole that we are (for the moment) absolutely perfect! ABSOLUTELY! Imagine that. Nothing impure. Nothing "cancerous". Nothing against us. We're perfect! O what a feeling! There is nothing in the world like complete healing and perfect holiness that comes through confession of sin and the cleansing that comes through Jesus Christ!
Rejoice Dwayne. Your spiritual healing is complete! You are made perfect in the sight of God. Your "cancerous" and self-destructive "growths" are gone. You are perfectly set to function again in the perfect and wonderful design you were made for. You are back to "right". You are set for the day. Breathe deeply. Smile and grin. Start fresh.
P.S. - My family and I are going to a family camp this week. A huge blessing! I don't know if I will be able to post my blog daily - not sure about internet access there. But I will continue to write it and post it whenever I get the chance.
Friday, July 15, 2005
I miss Rocky. He was my first dog. Every kid misses his first dog. He remembers the good times that they had together. Running and talking and petting and walking together. So do I. Except I was the 35 year old kid with his first dog. We would go for long walks together and I would talk to him about all kinds of things in my life. Just like a kid. Ha.
Then another dog came into our family. We had to name it. She was a rescue and she didn't have anything. No collar. No identity. Nothing. We said she could stay just until the owners were found. Just as long as she got along. Just as long as she wasn't any bother. Just as long... And wouldn't you know it, over the course of several months, we fell in love with her. And adopted her.
2 dogs? We never planned that. Twice as much cleanup. Twice as much food. But they played together and they interacted with each other to keep each other company. And that was good. (They weren't indoor dogs.) One of the games I miss about Rocky is "Stalking". He was a great stalker. And I could watch him do it so often and so well. He'd make himself as insignificant as possible. Crouch down in the grass (or the snow.) Paws would go down. Body would flatten itself against the ground. And even his head would go right down. He'd practically disappear. But not his eyes. The eyes were as alive and as bright as you've ever seen. They would follow the "prey". (Usually the other dog.) And as they followed the prey, Rocky's body would tense up. Like a spring it would tighten and tense up ready for an explosion. I could watch it from a vantage point of being behind the dog as the back legs would slightly move for grip in the soil.
Suddenly, "BOOM", the spring would release and in an explosion of momentum, the predator would spring and begin a chase that seemed to start from almost immediate high speed. Incredible to watch!
Anyway, I've been thinking about false humility and true humility. And was reminded of my first dog Rocky. None of my dogs can do it like Rocky could. False humility is like a crouching "predator". It pretends to be nothing of significance. Makes itself small and unseen. Tries to look like nothing, but it's really all worked up and focussed on achieving something for itself.
False humility is what I struggle with all the time. True humility is what I need to learn.
Am I willing to take my eyes off my own needs and desires? See the small ways I can serve those around me? See the small things that need doing? See the "small" people around me? Instead of being a servant, being a slave to God?
When you go on medical leave and are diagnosed with cancer people tell you to concentrate on yourself and get better. It's good advice. But too much of that can leave you thinking about yourself and your symptoms and your health. My goal is to give my life away!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I went to the Cancer Center today. For myself. I've been to the Cancer Center before for someone else. It was completely different. I was a helper. A friend. And I rather enjoyed being able to walk with someone else. Talking with the receptionist and waiting in the waiting rooms. Helping with whatever I could help. But today was different. I was there for me. I was the "cancer patient". And someone walked with me. Held my hand and smiled. My wife :-)
I've been thinking about how we all have chances to be "helpers". Each one of us takes our life expereinces and applies them to how we can walk along with others we relate to. Those of us who have been through the rigors of grade 6 can put an arm across a grade 6er and talk about teasing and bullying. If you've never experienced it, how can you relate? But you can. And you do. And when you do, you feel good about being able to comfort or care for or walk with a friend.
"Praise be to the... Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
Waddle on Dwayne. And put a hand around those you can.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Why I Believe I'm Being Healed Even When I Don't Feel Like It
Today is a treatise. Maybe it's an arguement. It's been rolling around in my head for a while now and needs to come out.
#1. If you want to see God - look at Jesus. I mean, that's God. Jesus said that He and the Father were one. The same. Cut from the same cloth. Same Spirit. What would God do? Exactly what Jesus did.
So when Jesus came to earth - and walked among us - He did exactly what God would do.
#2. And when it came to disease and illness and sickness... What did Jesus do? Rebuked it. Healed it. Every time.... Was there ever a time when He didn't? When Jesus said, "No?" Never! He always healed. Sometimes he asked for a sign of faith or a request. Sometimes he let the person articulate their desire for healing. Sometimes he dealt with the sins in a person's life first. But he never let a disease go unhealed. He ALWAYS healed the disease. EVERY time.
Don't you think that's significant? Must have been many many times he was asked to heal. Maybe hundreds. Maybe thousands. And never a recorded case of refusal. That is significant!
So when I present my case before Jesus asking for my healing. What do you think He'll say?
I just can't imagine the same God saying, "No." I just can't. I see Him saying, "Yes, Dwayne, I have a purpose for this disease. I have a plan for it in your life and for the lives of those around you. But I do plan to bring you out of it."
#3. On the other hand, there are the testimony of the martyrs. These are the people that God has chosen to allow to die for His good purpose. They are chosen for this special plan to bring great honor and glory to God by their death. It is a priviledge only for a few. Hebrews 11 speaks of them as people of great faith. Many of them chose this death over life. Actually chose it.
So does God allow people to die for Him and His cause? Yes.
#4. Along the same vein, there are such things as natural consequences. Sometimes people just die. They die of car accidents. Drunk drivers. Heart attack. And Cancer. It's just a part of the crazy world we live in. Unfortunately, we've messed up a lot of our world. We've gotten it into a unhealthy state. Environmental damage. Unhealthy eating. Cancinogens in our food supply. Stuff like that. God allows the results of our actions. He doesn't always interfere with the natural outplaying of our free will. And that means that some folks die of cancer. Will that be me?
So what is to become of me? I play these arguements around in my head every day. My fears assault me. Can I guarantee my healing? No. Do I know the mind of God on this? No. But I do have the faith to believe that God can and would heal me.
And if I have that faith to ask for it....
And if I have the faith to believe that He would do it....
Then I must have the faith to live like it!
Even when some of the symptoms persist!
However, my ultimate hope and trust is in the character of God.
And my ultimate desire is to honor Him in my life (however long that is)
And my ultimate reward will be the trust that I afford Him in doing His best in my body....
And I will trust Him! And I will make this day count for eternity! And I will put my fears into His hands. And I will say, "My life is in your hands!" Do as you see best!
I went to our care group last night and was I ever blessed! I think everyone should have a small group that learns to eat, play, laugh, cry and pray together! Why don't they? We decided to read a book entitled, Where is God when It Hurts? I'm really looking forward to that. A small community of friends. We band of brothers (and sisters)! I'm sure glad that the life of being a follower of Jesus Christ is a life of community!
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Where's my Energy?
The story goes like this. There's this great land. It's got good fields and good crops. It's got already prepared wells and sisterns. It's got fruit trees and vineyards that are beautiful. A land "flowing with milk and honey". And God has given it to the people. Free and clear. "I will hand it over to you." "I have given them into your hand." "None of them will be able to withstand you."
It all sounds too good to be true! Just walk up and take it? Nope. You gotta fight for it.
I knew there was a catch! Nothing's that easy. Everything worthwhile has to be struggled for.
So here's the story that keeps rolling around in my head all day...
After a full day, the Israelites get a message from Joshua. We have to pack up the army and march. At the beginning of the day? No. At the end of the day. "Why pack up the army and begin a march at the end of the day?" Good question. Not the best strategic move.
"The Gibeonites are being attacked."
"Who cares about the Gibeonites. Why are we their protectors?"
"We made a covenant with them to protect them."
So the armies of Israel marched all through the night to race over to Gibeon to protect a Canaanite city they had foolishly made a covenant with. And when they arrived they found that the 5 kings of the Amorites had all joined forces together. Now they're not just facing an army. They're facing the combined forces of 5 armies! The odds are stacked very strongly! Not in Israel's favor.
Here is where God steps in with the promise. But a promise from God sounds different when you've marched all night. It's good and all. It's great to have. It's important. But, you still have 5 armies and dead beat limbs. And an aching back. And sleepy eyes....
So now the real battle begins. And God is true to his word. Faithful. The armies of the Amorites are thrown into confusion and begin to flee. The Israelites attack and begin to chase them. That's right - chase them. The running begins. All the way back to their cities. A marathon of chasing a fleeing army. But time is running out. And Joshua sees a chance to wipe out this army and the city. So he prays to God.
And what does he pray for? For the sun to stop and the day to be extended. What? If you're an exhausted Israelite army private who's marched all night. Who's fought all day. Who's ran and ran and ran after a fleeing army. Do you want the day extended? NO WAY! But guess what... The one time in all of history that a day was extended... is today. The tiredest day of your life and the day is longer. Unbelievable!
I don't know where my energy went today. Gone! Poof! Zap! But today I read that story and man did I feel for the Israelite army. I know that God made a great promise. I know that He did a great miracle. But I also know that those Israelites army men ran their butts off and fought their hearts out too. I have a new-found respect for that army. For the followers of God.
True followers of God are not lazy people. They are not sit-on-your-butt kind of people. They are go-getters. They are fighters. They are the ones who really do a lot of stuff. Yeah, God helps them. Yeah, they are enabled by Him. But they also work.
God give me the gumption, the energy, the initiative, the get-up-and-go. To serve You! Even when I feel like lying on my duff. I don't want to waste my day!
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Confession is Good for the Soil
My great-grandfather was a pioneer. My grandfather was a farmer. My father grew up working the land. I did none of that. I think I missed out. I remember the stories my dad tells. Raw land. Full of trees and sloughs and rocks. Had to become fields. So how do you do it? You cut each tree down. You pull up each stump. Gather all the brush and make a big pile to burn. You pick each rock. It takes hours and hours of back breaking labor. You break up the ground one bit at a time. It's incredibly hard work. You only get a piece at a time.
"Confession does for the soul what working the land does for the soil. Before the farmer he works the land removing the rocks and pulling up the stumps. Why? Seed grows better in prepared soil." (Max Lucado)
I have a confession to make. Yesterday I wanted to invest my day on one really important person in my life. My father-in-law. He's a man of great faith. I have so much respect for him and for his walk with God. So we spent a good bit of the day together. At lunch what looked like a homeless guy came by where we were sitting and asked so sit with us. Maybe he was eager for the same thing I was - great conversation. Maybe he was hungry for my leftovers. Maybe he just wanted to bug us. I didn't wait to find out. I brushed him of with a comment. Just like that.
Later on I second guessed myself. That guy could have been anyone. Could have been Jesus. Could have been someone in need. Could have been someone I could have ministered to - even if just for a moment. We could have. I could have taken the lessons my father-in-law was passing on to me and used them. Here we were talking about ministry and God and how He works... But no. I just brushed him off. O God, please forgive me. I'm feeling pretty ashamed of myself. That's not an example of You. Give me your eyes to see the world around me as You see it. Give me eyes to see people as you see them - with great compassion and love. Break up my hardened ground and create a field to plant your seeds of fruitfulness in.
I still have so much unbroken ground. Where will God's seed of fruitfulness go if the ground is still hard and unyeilding? It has to be broken up. My soil needs to be much more prepared to recieve it. I can see there's still a lot of work to do.
Friday, July 08, 2005
When God Speaks
Sometimes when God speaks, He's really subtle. He doesn't yell. He doesn't shout. He'll quietly speak to a quieted mind. But first you have to listen. Really listen.
It's the early morning and no one is up yet. I've been awakened early. The house is quiet. The traffic is quiet. Even the dogs are quiet. But the sun is up and the day has started warming up already. It promises to be a beauty. Where will my mind go first? What will be the first thoughts to start my mind up and running on?
I open my Bible. It's the best place to begin the day. Find the place that I left off yesterday. Here it is. Then I close my eyes. My head rests in my hands. And I stop. Completely. Just stop everything. Deep breaths. And I listen. Quietness. Stillness. With my eyes closed there's darkness.
Now I reach out. Not literally. Reach out with my ears. "God?" "Are you there? Will you speak to me? I need to hear You. I'm listening." And I pause.
Now I read. Not like I used to read. I used to read the Bible in a completely different way. I used to read for information. Trying to get the principles out of the word. Trying to get the applications out of the word. What does the text say? What does the text mean? What is the author saying to his audience? That's all right and good. It demonstrates that I've learned good hermeneutics and all. But it doesn't meet my deepest hunger.
I have a hunger for God. For His voice. For Him to speak to me. I need Him more than I need to understand the principles of that passage. So in the morning, I'm not studying, I'm listening!
And I heard it! Loud and clear. Wow! Did I ever!
If you've ever read the beginning of Joshua, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. "Be strong and courageous!" Like I didn't get it the first time. He went over and over with it. And followed with some amazing and powerful examples. It was like I didn't just see it on the page. It was like it jumped off the page. Like it rang through my mind. Like it sprang up over and over to bite me on the nose. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!"
I'm about to enter into a battle here. A real war! With renal carcenoma. The pathology reports are completed and the diagnosis is finally and fully confirmed by the medical field. They came in yesterday. We even got the call from the Cancer Center. I'm in to see an oncologist on July 28th. 3 weeks to wait. I'm about to face the battle lines. They're talking about chemo right away. It's a word that has scared me before. It's something I've not wanted to face. Will I be lining up with that? I don't know. But here's what I do know.
So how do I face this? "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Sometimes God is subtle. Sometimes He shouts. Thanks for shouting it out today for me God!
Thursday, July 07, 2005
The Consequences of Sin
Been reading the last part of Deuteronomy and it's rolling around in my head. I can't seem to get it out. The end of Moses. His death. 120 years old this guy. Been leading the Israelites since they were a rag-tag group of nomadic slaves trapped in Egypt. Spent his whole life on them. Invested everything. They were the ones he argued with God for. They were the ones he listened to the grumbling. They were the ones who took up all his time helping gain justice and listening to their petty arguements. They were the ones he spent hours and hours intercedeing for. What a pastor!
Now the point of all this was to get them from Egypt and a life of slavery to Canaan - the "promised land". Here they would clear the place out and be blessed by God forever. That's the plan.
But the end of the story is such a sad one. Moses isn't allowed to enter the promised land nor to lead the people in. What?! All this way and you don't get to enter it? That's crazy! How could God do that to a leader. Bring him and the people all that way. Then not let them enter? It would break a man's heart. Especially Pastor Moses who's given his whole life for this.
So why can't he enter? One lousy mistake.
Made it back in Meribah Kadesh. The people were grumbling about water (what's new?). And God tells Moses to speak to the rock and water would gush out and the people would be saved (again). So what does an overtired grumpy Pastor Moses do? He walks over to the rock and beats it with his staff instead. He didn't deliver the sermon that Sunday. He just delivered the water. And that's it. Big deal? Not to me. But it was to God. God was expecting Moses to bring glory to him through the message that day and Moses didn't.
So because of that, Moses isn't allowed to enter the land, just see it from a distance.
And with that rolling around in my head, as a pastor. I'm thinking. Thinking about how often have I really delivered the goods? Really pointed people to God. Really took the opportunities in front of me to have people see God. Or did I allow my grumpiness or self-centeredness to not point fully to God.
O that I may be a reflection of Him in every circumstance! O that people would see Christ in me! O that the new Jesus-filled Dwayne would shine through! This is my passionate prayer today!
I confess that all too often my lack of sleep and grumpiness gets the best of me. I can get pretty selfish sometimes. Please forgive me Lord. Let me complete the mission you've given me. Please don't cut me short of that. I desperately want to be the leader who finishes well. Who completes the mission. Who leads the people to the place where you want them. But I will pass on the baton graciously if you ask me to. Though it rips the heart out of my chest. I do want the people to get to the place of blessing.
I'm crying now. Can't stop the tears. Begging God for my church family. We're not there yet. But He's bringing us and I can see it. I just want this awesome community of people get there. I've seen them come so far. I've loved them pastorally with all my heart. I long for them. Ache for them. Pray for them. Intercede constantly for them. I've given everything I know how to for them.
But I don't know if I can finish the journey with them. Medical leave. It's killing me inside and yet...
I know that great leaders are taking the reigns. How can I bless them? How can I tell them, "Be strong and of great courage!"
"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
O, God, I long for your people to find that place of blessing and to honor You. Including myself.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Younger boys and Older Men
There's a story in the Mark that I love to preach on. It has captivated my imagination completely. And yesterday I lived it out in a way.
The story is of four buddies (I always imagine 4) who grab their disabled friend one day. They have a plan. They've never tried the plan out or done it before. But they're willing to give it a go today. In fact, they've set some time aside and gathered together and went to their disabled friend's place to pick him up. "We're going to get you to Jesus". That's the plan. "We've heard good things about Jesus and we think that if we can just get you to Him, He'll fix you up."
Maybe the disabled guy liked it, maybe he didn't. Doesn't say. Just says they picked him up and away they went.
But the traffic was so bad and the crowd so big that they couldn't get through. So these guys go up on the roof and pull the roof apart getting their friend to Jesus. Who, of course, heals him.
Yesterday, I had some friends who came to pick me up to get me to Jesus. They were on a mission. Purposeful. Intentional. Jesus was in North Battleford at a revival-camp type meeting and there were people there with the power of God to pray for healing. Jesus was there. So whether I wanted to or not or was ready or not - they were going to get me there. (I was)
At the very beginning of the meeting they had some prayer requests from people for healing and they prayed fervently for them. I nearly bolted from my seat to run up and ask for prayer. I didn't though. I sat through the service wondering if I should have. Maybe a little desperation is called for at times. A sign of faith. But at the end of the service they called for people to come forward for prayer. I was the first one up.
A great thing happened. A number of older men surrounded me. I noticed that. Because at our church we don't have men of this age. 70's and up. Elders in a age sense. Men who've walked with God for a long long time. These men surrounded me and prayed. Fervently. Passionately. Out loud. With their microphones on. Leading the congregation in prayer. Many hundred people. For me. Then they implored the congregation to pray on my behalf. Explained who I was and why I needed prayer. Wow! Blew me away! I felt my pain subside. I felt my energy renew. I felt the power of faith to believe God for great things!
After their prayers I stood up (I had been kneeling). I thanked God! I praised God! I worshipped God! And went back to my seat. After the service, we visited with a number of people and headed for home all praising God for our time there and the blessing that it was to us. What amazing friends!
Was I instantly healed? Am I free from cancer? Right now? I'd like to say "Yes!" But I still have some of the symptoms. So I can't really say that it was a completed healing. Maybe the first part. Maybe a beginning. Maybe a blessing to my faith and the faith of my friends.
But one of the stories that we talked about was from a younger boy. He was reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac - the sacrifice. Remember that one. Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his one and only son. His highest treasure. Absolutely crazy! But he does. Goes all the way to making the alter, binding the son, raising the knife, ready to plunge it deep. Before God stops him and provides the sacrifice in his son's place.
This younger boy realizes a profound truth in the story and asks the question. "Why did Abraham have to go all the way?" Great question. I've been thinking about that question. Maybe God has more for me to go through first. Maybe I have to be willing to go further before my healing is completed? If you have more for me God, I'm willing. I'll go all the way ready at any moment for you to provide a way out. But I'm willing to walk this painful road with You.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Seeing Beyond Myself
Big dogs are not for city dwellers. I've heard that a lot of times. I still hear it. And I've always believed it myself. Big dogs need exercise. Not just a walk around the block. They need to run. Really run. Like get out an run till your tired and thirsty and your tongue's hanging out.
I have 2 big dogs. German Shepherds. And do they ever like to run. Every day we would go for 4-8 miles of running. Summer or winter. Good weather and often in bad weather. They were often my motivation to keep running through the last two winters. They were my constant companions to keep me going when the weather got tough. They needed the run. They were always ready for it. Early morning or late afternoon. Even a late night run was great for them. It's easier to get out the door when you have a faithful friend who's counting on you every day.
Each day I fed them breakfast. Petted them and talked to them about the day and the weather. Looked into their faces and saw them. These are dogs that adore me. Every day they look to me like I'm God. They wag their tails and their whole bodies wag in anticipation of my smile. They come running up and walk around me looking for ways to please me. If I ask them to sit. They plop down and stare at me - just hoping that I'll give them another command. Anything to please me. Anything at all. If I go through a string of commands (just to keep them in practice), they enjoy each one - like showing off their quick obedience. Because they know it pleases me.
Then I put on the leashes and head out for a run. They gently extend to the end of their leashes. They know the exact distance from me. One on each side. But they don't pull. Just to the end of the leash and match speed with me perfectly. If I adjust the speed, they adjust theirs. And we head down the Meewasin Trails. Happy as clams. Running together down the trails.
If no one's around, I talk. Talking to yourself is pretty dangerous. I know. People stare at you. I've seen them when I didn't think anyone was around and then I realise that someone is. I get embarrassed then and I try to think back to what I just said and might have been overheard. (Sigh) But I'm never really talking to myself. I'm often praying. To the Father. My dogs don't know. They think I'm chatting with them. And they listen for any words that might pertain to them. I can tell because their eyes often come back to me to watch me. Their ears are pricked up to hear anything that might be a command. They're pretty attentive all run.
Truth be known, I always wanted to be a winter runner, but never had the motivation until we had the dogs. They were the difference in my running. They have kept me faithful to daily exercise probably much better than any internal motivation. I appreciate them for that.
In fact, one day when we were running and a dog lagged a little I had a long conversation with her about her purpose in life and how important she was to me to keep me running. Dogs don't understand much of English - just their commands. But I still think they do. Or at least I sometimes act like they do, because my conversations with them go well beyond what they get.
I can't run much now. My doctor said "No more". What am I to do? It's been part of how I identified myself and understood myself. Among other things, I'm a "runner". I ran last week against medical advise. It was a sad thing to watch. I ran like an old man with a sack of potatoes on his back. Nothing like I used to run. It's amazing how fast a guy can lose his running shape. Funny thing was, I was grinning the whole time. Like a fool. Just to be back with the dogs and running. Just to feel the wind in my hair and the pounding of my feet and be back on the trails. Just to see the dogs run with me and feel their excitement and enjoyment. It was great!
I want to be like a dog! Looking to my master at every opportunity! Ready when He is - to do whatever He commands. Eager in anticipation. Showing my quick obedience. Listening to His voice trying to understand things that are often over my head. Knowing that He speaks to the Father and that I am just to be ready to listen to anything that pertains to me.
I'm going to take them for a walk today. Maybe a short run too. They need it. I'm going to look to my Master like my dogs do. In my devotions I read this great chapter!
My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
Monday, July 04, 2005
The Dark Night of the Soul
In the 16th century, St. John of the Cross wrote this incredible book. I was captivated by the concepts that he wrote about as I read some of it. I need to write out some of the things I’ve learned. Get them out of my head.
The dark night is a place that every mature follower of Christ can tell you about. It is a place of great darkness and the absence of anything. An empty void that you walk into. Everyone’s journey leads them to this place in every life at some point. Those who have travelled this road never forget it. Those who are yet to, well, I wouldn’t tell them much about it beforehand.
Before I can live my life for God completely, there must be a death to myself. Dwayne must die. The old Dwayne. The one who lived for himself and thought about himself and was consumed by his own desires. My ego. My “old me”. He had to go. Baptism was my symbol for this. When I was baptised, my old Dwayne died. A new Dwayne began. But I was young when I was baptised and I only understood this so much. I had to relearn that lesson several times since then. The dark night.
I asked God to make me more prayerful. To make me more humble. To make me more mature in my walk with Him. Never did I dream the process He would need to use to answer those prayers in my life! Had I understood them, would I have prayed them? Probably not.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
God brings us to places in our lives where He “deserts” us. A place of suffering and pain. A place of humiliation and shame. A place of sorrow and sadness. There we are alone. And what do I do? I call out. I pray like I’ve never prayed before. I cry out! “God, where are you?” Exactly like the psalmist.
Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
But God doesn’t. He doesn’t answer at all. He watches. He yearns for us. But I feel absolutely nothing of His presence or His watchfulness. I feel completely abandoned. Why would God do that? Why would He abandon me in such a state? Why would I be left feeling absolutely alone?
“Sometimes I get this feeling
My prayers bounce back off the ceiling
And they spin around the room with me
And they never get to You....
My one wish is to break through,
When I try to get to You
My one fear is a deaf ear,
Please tell me it ain’t true”
(“Bouncing off the Ceiling” by A Ragamuffin Band in Prayers of a Ragamuffin)
Well, nothing inspires prayer like adversity, sorrow, and humiliation. In broken times we pray at our best. Humility is learned not from books and theology, but from humiliations. When I’m stripped away of my self-sufficiency. I don’t learn trust in God without God stripping away all my supports. So that I’m totally dependent on Him. That’s trust. You can’t learn it any other way.
Do I worship God, or do I worship my experience of God? Have I come to rely on His comforts or His character? I must move past a worshipping of His comforts to a faith in His promises. Mature faith can’t grow when surrounded by the comforts of God.
The experience of the dark night of the soul is a painful one. God seems absent. Words spoken to Him ring hollow. Oppressive feelings of guilt sharpen the pain of loss. “I have failed.” The worst fears surround me and they attack me. Jesus experienced this. In the garden of Gethsemane. For hours he called out to God. Begged his disciples to pray for him. “If it’s possible, take this cup from me.” Then on the cross. Crying out to God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
And does my faith grow through this painful experience? Not necessarily. In fact, I think it can have a terrible effect. I could grow cynical and hardened by the absence of God’s presence and comforts. I could allow bitterness to nestle in and turn away from Him. Rebellion. Pride. Apathy.
Or I could turn to distractions. Back to myself and my needs. Seek to meet them or find them met somewhere else. Self-indulgence. Self-centeredness. Selfishness. Eating humble pie till the bakery is bare doesn’t guarantee humility. Ego-slaying remains. Old Dwayne must die. Faith must be refined.
What I needed is to press in further. Pray in a deeper way. Allow the hindrances of false humility to be stripped away. Allow brokenness to happen. And it does. Out the other side of the dark night is a newfound much deeper faith. A worship experience not grounded on the comforts but the character of God to sustain me. A hunger not just for the gifts of the Giver, but the Giver of gifts. A peace in knowing the face of God, not just His hand of blessings. I have walked through the desert and I’m ready for the Promised Land. I have prepared myself for revival. I have matured in my faith. I have deepened my prayer life. I have learned a lesson in trust. Real trust.
I’m waiting for the biopsy results to tell me what kind of renal cancer I have been diagnosed with. Are there treatment options? Waiting is the hardest part. I want to do something. But there’s nothing to do. I’m trusting. I’m believing that God has something for me in this. What is His purpose? Why won’t He tell me? I’m calling out to Him. Crying out. Silence. Stillness. Some mornings my prayers echo back to me.
“Yet will I trust Him.”
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Worship on a Sunday
I've been waiting for today. It's Sunday and the highlight of our day on Sunday is always church! We look forward to it all day. We plan our day around that and our evening around it. It used to be because I was pastoring and my whole week had been built towards this climax. Today, I'm not pastoring and I'm still finding myself drawn toward going to church as the climax of my week. I get to see the people again. I get to greet them and visit with them and find out about their weeks. Catch up and laugh together. I get to greet our guests and visitors. Make them feel welcome. Introduce them to my friends and show them a good time of worship.
And yes, I get to worship!
Since I found out about my cancer diagnosis, I've worshipped differently. More intensely. I often can't stop crying when I think about being in the presence of God. When I think about the words to some of the songs. When I lift my hands up before Him and just surrender. When I rejoice in thankfulness for all the blessings He gives.... I think I'm much closer to God now than ever before in my life. In fact, I know that I am. What a blessing! (I can't believe I said that.)
I can hardly wait!
I was reading in Deuteronomy today again. And God just "struck" me with this passage in there.
About how the Israelite people were not to worship Him like the pagans worship their gods. God was to be worshipped as God! With great joy! Seriously. Joy is commanded!
"There in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat (Mmmm) and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you."
It can get pretty morbid just waiting for the prognosis on my diagnosis. I can let fears attack me and worst case scenarios run through my mind. I think the enemy would love that. I think he tries for that. But today, no way! I'm not! I'm going to eat with my family "before the Lord". I'm going to worship with my family "before the Lord". I'm going to encourage my family in the Lord. I'm going to greet the family of God and our guests in the Lord. And I'm going to worship with great rejoicing "before the Lord"!
Too bad so many of my friends are at "the lake". I'm going to miss them.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I hear the word more often from my wife than anyone else. She is the fridge patrol person in our home. Not me. I'm the "Refrigerator Raider". You see I have this incredible weakness for leftovers.
Leftovers are a gift from God. They exist in the back of your fridge to tantalize and seduce the "Raiders" like me. Early in the morning or late at night the raiders are drawn to the fridge by some unheard calling. They come like they're being pulled by an unseen string. Straight up. The fridge is opened. The light comes on. And the gift from God begins to call.
It used to be baking and goodies that I so desperately craved. I also have a huge weakness for old meatloaf and potatoe salad, but I better not get into that. With my health the way it is now. I'm craving water and fruit just about as much as anything. Weird huh? Today I found an old Ice Cappacino that I couldn't finish the other day. Add a little old banana. Reblend and serve. Mmmm.
Anyways, where was I? I yeah "spoiled". My wife. The fridge policewoman.
Every so often she catches me. (I've never been able to get much past her.) And she inspects my latest "catch" from the back of the fridge. If it doesn't pass her approval she calls out "spoiled" and I can't have it. Or maybe I just have to promise not to offer it to anyone else. "This is the last day for that Dwayne". I smile. Yup. Last day for that (grin)! Mmmm. Just wish I had the appetite to eat more.
Today I was reading in my Bible about spoiled people. Been sitting in the back of the fridge with the rich foods and eating too much. When people get too much of the blessings of God without the disciplines of God - they spoil. Turn rotten and ugly and begin to stink. It's really gross. Turns your stomach and ruins your appetite for people altogether.
I know that God wants to bless people. But if He just blesses and never stops it's not really that good for people. It's better that they go hungry and learn self-discipline than that they get all their ways all the time.
When God wanted to bring His beloved Israelites into a land "flowing with milk and honey" (leftovers), he had to first discipline the people with hunger and manna diets to prepare them for such a great blessing. It was necessary for them to learn self-discipline first. Otherwise they would have gorged themselves on the blessings and forgotten about God and serving Him and honoring Him and glorifying Him. They would have been consumed by their own appetites and forgotten the host to this great feast.
"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with His manna.... to teach you that a man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the word of God."
I pondered that this morning as I read it this morning, just before I began my rummaging through the fridge. I'm convinced that God has a great blessing for me. A really big one. I'm asking and praying for it. But maybe there's some refining to do yet. Some self-discipline and humbling that needs to be done first. Preparation for the blessing so that I'm not spoiled. Okay. Teach me Lord. Humble me. Prepare me. Let me hunger for it. Then I will praise You! Then I will not forget!
What else are you supposed to do when you're waiting? I'm waiting for test results. Man, is that hard! I want to do something. But we're here waiting. A time of humbling and testing and self-discipline. Must be for something really good way deep in the back of the fridge. :-)
Friday, July 01, 2005
The Health and Prosperity Teaching
There are people who believe and teach that God wants everyone to be healthy and wealthy all the time. Universally. I mean - they believe it for everyone of God's followers.
I'm one of them.
If that sounds crazy and completely contrary to everything I've ever said and taught before, that's because it is. But to my defense I must clarify. I didn't say that God always does it. I just said that He wants it.
Wants it in the sense that He desperately loves each one of His children. Wants it in the sense that He wants what every doting father wants when He looks deep into their eyes. Wants it in the sense that this loving Creator has beautifully shaped each of His creations. Took His time thinking about their attributes, their talents, their gifts, their uniquenesses. And smiled and grinned as He formed them together. Thinking the whole time what a great combination this was going to make. Calling over the rest of the Trinity to smile and grin with Him as He put the finishing touches together so that they could all join in the celebration of new life as each one of His creations was shaped and formed. Can you see them all grinning and slapping each other on the back and laughing and saying how great that little touch adds just the right thing? I can.
How could God not want each of His creations to be fully all that they could be?! Healthy and wealthy. Full of vigor and displaying all the beautiful range of talents and gifts and beauty that He had designed for them.
He certainly did for the Israelites. I keep reading about them in Deuteronomy and seeing a God who's fallen head over heels for this crazy group of people. He keeps trying to get them to follow after Him and His ways so that He can bless them. Bless their sandals off! Keeps trying to bless them and their give them long lives. Literally.
"Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time."
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you...."
"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear Me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!"
"Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days...."
And on and on it goes....
I can't guarantee my healing to be healthy forever. Eventually the plan is for my body to die. It's really for the best. This body was only designed to last for a while and then I've been promised a much nicer model. Much improved and longer lasting. Wait till you see it. You'll really like it.
In the meantime, I'm praying for healing. Miraculous healing. Cancer-be-gone kind of healing. I believe that God wants me to be healthy and happy too. But I also know that He has higher plans and bigger plans than my mind or imagination can fathom. And I trust that no matter what those plans are (and they could include literally anything) I can trust Him with them. To do the very best. The thing that honors His name and glorifies Him the greatest.
And that's what I want my whole life to be about! God and God's glory!
(But I keep thinking about how He wants to bless those Israelites with long prosperous lives...)