Trusting Jesus

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled, “The One Who Returned Home” by Naomi Zacharias on page 14 of the recent http://www.rzim.org quarterly newsletter (Spring 2017, I believe).  She quotes a letter that recounts a story from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, about a friend who was a Navy SEAL.  The closing remarks are from Naomi.  I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did!  JJ

(The Navy SEAL) was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a dark part of the world.  When they entered the room, it was filthy and dark.  The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified.  The SEALs initially stood at the door and called to the prisoners.  They identified themselves and asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t move.  Alienated and frightened, they instead hid their eyes in fear.

This particular SEAL put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages.  He was trying to show them he was one of them.  After meeting their eyes, the Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them.  “Will you follow us?” he said.  The man stood to his feet.  First one prisoner did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go.

(The person sharing this story) reminded me that Miller concluded this:  “I never liked it when the preacher said we had to follow Jesus.  Sometimes they would make him sound angry.  But I liked (this story instead).  I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust him, and I liked that he healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.”

(The storyteller) shared that it reminded her of what Jesus has been for her.  But it struck me how she has embodied this message in her ministry.  (The storyteller’s name is Analise.)

When Analise hit rock bottom, the reason she found safety in (a program called) the Word Made Flesh is because they were willing to sit in that place with her; they remember their own lostness and the mutual need for a Savior who rescues us.  He did not choose to do this in grandiose fashion.  No, he chose the utter loneliness and pain of the cross.  And so it is he who beckons us by sitting down beside us, showing us he became one of us.  He tells us he is our Savior, and he leads us home — so that we may all be the one who returned home.

Into the clearing

When a calming washes over me with which I am unfamiliar

I wonder if it could be here to stay?  Oh my merciful Lord, please!

The headache barely whimpers anymore and her pain cousin screams less

Making me wonder if something real is happening:  “is it live or Memorex?”

Napping fills my afternoons, pill counting still dominates my days, overnights

With fewer medical appointments I can listen to my own body better

And experiment with all that I have learned, all my Great Physician has taught.

Some little sewing projects have kept me going through this stage of recovery

I’ll share it with you if I ever get them done with scraps of stuff from here and there,

Just like life isn’t it when putting pieces together then ripping out the crooked ones?

Maybe someday it will look pretty or be useful somehow . . . until then my Maker “sows.”

What will I reap when the seizures finally stop?  Will life become filled with color and smiles?

Alas until then, Gentle One, watch this space with me for I am hopeful again, not as bad,

Yes at last, I am hopeful again.  JJ

The Boomerang Effect

The wooden angle sitting on the mantle was a souvenir/gift from the Land Down Under.

To toss it into the air and have it return in-flight to you is a skill few master.  We didn’t!

Instead we dust if off because it looks nice:  forming a paradox in design and practice with which I can relate tonight.

Here’s why.

boomerang, wooden, life, metaphor, like, things come back, return to you

A trip to our local hospital began after much preparation and somewhat tense spirit too.

Would the appointments go alright such that I could return home and rest before a party this evening?

I brought with me several “rescue remedies,” food, water, favorite medical supplies, etc.

Having my port flushed last month went reasonably well so this one today should too.

Not.

I’d been battling Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth when some labs indicated liver stuff too.  My Doc was willing to order a test over the phone and both would be today.

The liver/gall bladder/pancreas ultrasound could irritate a tender tummy for awhile.

Worse came a “tic attack” with the realization that there are several tender spots.

Gratefully, recovery came quickly and I was off to the outpatient clinic for the flush.

The nurse completed everything slowly as I’d requested; my preparation was flawless too.

Can you ice your chest wall while having an ultrasound, apply numbing cream before leaving home, and finish your breakfast/morning supplements in the waiting room between appointments running only 8 minutes late too?  Sure you can!

But 8 minutes past the hour was too late.  With everything that went wrong, the process would take OVER SIX HOURS!

The nurses there are saints as they let me sit in that treatment chair forever if needed.

Something about that 1 1/2 inch needle plunging into my port never has bode well with me.  Or was it a slight change in tissue gradient from fluids and a blood thinner going in?

The procedure was completed and I thought I was going to be o.k.  Then I started shaking.

The shaking continued for over THREE HOURS!  Several convulsive spikes joined the mess.

Gratefully my beloved Stevers was able to leave work early, go home, and bring me an emergency dose of steroid medication at the hospital.  He was my hero once again.

Within 15 minutes, the episode stopped.  I lain in that recliner chair in shock for a long while.  I wept some too.

We moved to the lobby where I devoured my last bit o’ snack and began to revive.

Once home, I rallied to help Steve get out the door to the party with gifts, dish-to-pass, yada, yada, yada hoping to join him later.  Another FIVE HOURS LATER, I did.

Last year I was too sick to attend a gathering with these friends from out of town.  My beloved sent me a video back then of the kids opening their gifts.  Bittersweet.

This year I got to see most of the kids for a few minutes and all of the adults.  Twas sweet.

Another victory was being able to visit in a home with a history of mold damage.  Huge!

The First Defense Nasal Screens (See Julie’s Favorites), open windows on a cool Spring evening, and progress in reduced reactivity all appeared to help.  Thank you Lord.

My plan was to stay in the moment, just enjoying the light banter and updates from all.

No matter that no one asked me much about things.  I love them in Christ just the same.

So I live a Boomerang life, moving from wretchedness to sweetness often within hours.

I could brood the day long or keep my pretty tops sitting in a closet like that dusted toy.

Instead if my Lord grants the where-with-all to get back into life, moving ahead, slightly forward,

I will trust in His strength.  I will do it.  I will get there.  And like the boomerang thing, the trip back will cancel the trip out that maybe wasn’t so good.

For we will face trials in this life, those of us who believe in Christ Jesus. The real question remains:

Will we stay on the shelf when the flippin’ craziness is done?  Nope.  Not me.

I will get out and try to have some fun!

What is most important

What is most important?

This is a question that marks my days no matter what my state of mind or health.  Every day for as long as I can remember, I got up and set goals for my waking hours.  Even if I have to modify them over and over again before the day is done, I have a mental list of what I hope to do.  It’s just how I am wired.  Some things get written down and some do not.  Before long I meet with the Lord and we go over things.  Usually some changes follow!

Proverbs 16:9 New International Version (NIV)

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

If I’m not sure what to do (when overwhelmed or facing a barrier of some sort) then I stop and ask the Lord about it.  He knows my situation in addition to the desires of my heart and usually answers in a way that draws me closer to Him.  Sometimes I am challenged in obeying His leading.  That is always a mistake.  Things always go better if I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, usually to read my Bible or listen to Bible teaching.  The day that follows always goes better that way.

When we are battling an illness or caring for a loved one our personal resources are limited.  Additionally, we may never know when that reservoir of energy or cognitive capacity will run out so we must make our best guess and proceed accordingly.  Will new demands change everything?  It is really hard to be flexible when our hopes are dashed over and over again, less gets done, and we become overwhelmed. So we strive to keep our spirits high and go with the flow, right?  “Let go, let God” as the 12-Steppers teach? There is always tomorrow, right?

Plans changing repeatedly over the course of the day or night has dominated my past 5 years so much that I practically numb out when it happens again.  I am not sure if this is a good idea or not?  What follows for me is pursuing smaller and smaller tasks after answering the question:  what is most important?  Often what has happened next fits the category more of survival than enjoyable:  get that rescue remedy from the frig . . . I will help you walk to the kitchen . . . trust me and push yourself up to get your legs working again.  Don’t worry, you won’t fall.  I tell you, this principle of setting priorities gets REAL really fast when in a time of crisis!

That may be an extreme example for you, Gentle Reader, so I will just say this a different way.  We both will be o.k. if we set our plans before the throne of grace and let the Lord guide is in all things big and small.  He cares for the details of our lives.  As He orders our steps He also gives us the power to take those steps too.  What is most important always gets done this side of heaven.  We didn’t die because the bathrooms didn’t get cleaned or we had to eat canned meat for dinner!  Dwelling in the presence of my Savior is the best food, fitting for my soul anyways.  And that dwelling happens best when completely in the arms of our Heavenly Father who loves us so!

As my brother, Mike, has often said:  just keep moving forward.  Yup.  When I can I do.  And sometimes that means staying right where I am for a while.  Rest is important too ya know . . .  JJ

scripture, Bible, Christian, to do list, list, priorities, important, Proverbs 19:9

 

Bumbling Along

The days are meaningless yet pass anyways

Wanton for a focus, a point, a reason why

So I wander through the rooms, this one and that

Waiting for my moment to arrive:  today or the next?

Ever seeking for answers over here, over there

That email tells me, “watch this!” for new keys

I don’t think anyone really knows how to help me

Sans my Heavenly Father who ordained this journey.

I trust my Lord who sustains me no matter

The segways that come again, again, again

Each one a little different so mindful I must be

Lest I miss the point of this seemingly wretched tragedy.

Pray tell the suffering goes on and on for years

Yet somehow I am not the same for having hung on

My needs provided for with a few wants in there too

Just gotta find some things to hold onto while I dwell in limbo.

For wherever we are going, my Lord Jesus and me

Will be worth it when I am with him always with no more weeping,

Maybe a blessing will come for being faithful or who really knows?

Only in His strength will goodness come as I bumble along til one day I am finally free.

sigh.

Until then, hang in there Gentle Reader.  And do take care, k?  JJ