The prophet Haggai in the Old Testament had to remind the nation of Israel that the current day was as good as any to rebuild the temple of the Lord. They were preoccupied with the day-to-day events of their lives, much like we have with some variations. These days we have Twitter updates flashing or beeping us the latest trivial matters we used to not care about to the stress of keeping up with the accelerating pace of life. It takes more effort than ever to SLOOOOOW DOWN and smell the roses.
Ooops! Did I fertilize them with Rose tone when I cut them down on Saturday? Shoot. I better fertilize the William Battin climbers now because they are growing and wait to feed the Knock Out rose bushes since they are still dormant . . . And off I go again . . .
When Pastor Paul Mowery preached on the book of Haggai recently he asked the congregation a question about the things we once promised the Lord. What did I feel led to do as a young Christian or during a time of spiritual growth that I am not doing today? What happened? Was the inspiration transformed into another purpose or forgotten altogether? Hmmmm. Even when facing times of crisis this is a question that benefits from our reflection. If all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) then it is possible to further our ministry purpose even in fast-paced or challenging times. And for most of us, these are challenging, fast-paced times!
Some of you know that my brother (Michael) had a stoke 9 days ago. Today Mike will be transferred from an acute cardiac/telemetry floor in a hospital to the rehabilitation unit. We are encouraged by this news! This means that he is stable enough to tolerate up to 3 hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapy per day in addition to having his funding issues largely resolved. (He does not have health insurance and is applying for the Medicaid Extension Program.) Mike continues on a “pureed diet” and “thickened liquids” (aka Pepsi!) with one-to-one feeding for swallowing safety. He has not moved his left arm or leg yet since the onset of the stroke one week ago. While his speech slowly improves, I understand that his mental status varies in the finer points of reality orientation testing. This has delayed the filing of his Power of Attorney for Healthcare status needed in case of an adverse event. And lastly, there’s a decision pending of whether or not he will have surgery to place stents in his carotid arteries: with high blood pressure, the occlusions were the cause of the right CVA. All-in-all, Mike is embarking on the next leg of a long journey of recovery; we are grateful that that next step is beginning today.
One of the most significant events from my visit to see him last Tuesday was his statement through garbled speech, “I need Jesus.” When he said that I was speechless myself. I was still responding to the horror of seeing my brother so severely disabled as he lain in bed with his waxy bed rest complexion, sunken left side of his face, catheter-and-wires attached to his skinny frame, and lifeless look in his eyes. I had to dash into the hallway as my eyes flooded with tears! The night before we travelled out of State to see him had been a nightmare anticipating that moment as it triggered residual grieving from the loss of my last grandparent, parents, and youngest brother over the previous 11 years. So the the next day in the midst of my own emotions, my dear brother reminded me of what was most important. Yes, “I need Jesus too.”
What Jesus has for Mike will of course be different from what He has for me. Our health challenges are different yet both bring significant physical weaknesses. The seizure attack episodes have increased to over 4 hours per day now with the worst ones occurring after waking up in the morning and after dark in the evening. I can do nothing but lie in bed and ride them out. I no longer can tolerate the high CBD hemp oil that gave me relief last month. It doesn’t work anymore anyways. Another medical doctor has set me adrift after only 2 months of working with him! Gratefully there is a Dr. in his practice (a biotoxin expert) with whom I am scheduled to follow-up with next week. Gratefully I have already completed the preliminary lab work she requires. In the meantime I have about 6 hours each day where I can function at a reduced level. And now in the face of my brother’s devastating stroke, I see how very fortunate I am. I am optimistic for a full recovery from the biotoxin illness that I once thought was Lyme disease. Sometimes it takes 2 1/2 years to find the answers for which we seek, and for which the Lord may bring. It takes what it takes as I wait on the Lord. And in the meantime I have built a firm foundation in trusting Him through what ever may come. I didn’t say it was a perfect one! It is solid in Jesus Christ and His Word.
Mike is yet at the beginning of building his foundation. Indeed he will need Jesus to do the tasks ahead of him both for his own recovery and to be a wise steward of the love relationships in his life: that with his fiancé (Lisa) and Lisa’s son (Alex). Gilbert the dog should be fine. 🙂 I am sad that his journey looks insurmountable in the beginning. The obstacles appear tremendous in the humble opinion of an occupational therapist on a medical leave. All of my training is rushing forth wondering about the potential for new complications and very real permanent disability. I am going to need help lying all of that before the Great Physician for His wondrous omnipotence and care. With Jesus, all things are possible and Mike’s illness will not be wasted. Mike has professed faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. The Lord will meet him on his bed of sickness and redeem it for His glory. In that we can be sure. (Psalm 41:3)
The call to build can be a frightful one in our own strength. I submit to you that we cannot build anything of lasting value in our own strength. The outward man and the trappings of the stuff of his life will fade away in due time. Only things rendered unto the Lord and completed with His leading will last. Yes, Mike’s call to rebuild his body begins today with a transfer to the rehabilitation floor of the hospital. My own call to rebuild comes with revisiting the biotoxin protocol I discovered over 2 years ago. He and I are like every one of us who faces the question of what will consume our time, energy, and talents in the next 18 waking hours let alone the rest of our lives. So what will we do with our discretionary resources? How much discretionary resource does each one of us really have? And are we spending it for what will last or for what is, in the end, meaningless dust in the wind?
As for me, I know that I am called to write about my experiences within the context of the will of the Father in my life. Writing poetry was my outlet ten years ago when I could hardly write a complete sentence due to my emotional pain. Today I leave you with the words of the second wisest man (King Solomon) to ever live after Jesus Christ. I left these words in Mike’s room in scripted on a tiny plaque that encouraged me so long ago when faced with the task of rebuilding my life. May they encourage you too, Gentle Reader. Let us both begin to gather ourselves that which is needed to build something of lasting significance, beginning today.