Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Another Storm

An update on Fred: He came home on a Friday, just two days after surgery. We had a peaceful, relaxing weekend at home with Fred resting. (Unusual for him.) He even stayed home on Monday. But then Tuesday went back to work at 6am. At 4:30 when I came in to cook for Alpha, I tried to persuade him to go home and he finally did about 5:30.

In the middle of the night Fred woke up sick. I felt the heat radiating from him and took his temperature. He had a fever. It did not drop in the morning, and by noon it was 103 degrees. At my second call to the surgeon's office, the nurse said to come to the ER. As we drove there, I suddenly realized I hadn't told anyone and NO ONE was praying for us! Everyone thinks Fred is fine, I thought! We were on our own. But God knows our situation.

Fortunately, there was no infection in his incisions, internal or external. After several hours in the hospital and numerous tests for other issues, the doctors concluded he has a bacterial infection from the high doses of antibiotics he had prior to surgery that killed off the good bacteria that usually keeps this bad one in check. So another antibiotic targeting that particular one is prescribed. Fred is better now.

It is so easy to give in to fear. As my dear husband lay in the hospital bed appearing so weak and frail, all I could do was pray. What will happen? What should we do? Oh, I was scared, I admit. My faith is strong, but God never promised us a leisurely life without difficulty. I thought back to a sermon given by a guest speaker at our church just a couple of weeks before. I will write some of the basic points because it was a powerful message.

Paul Tripp is a dynamic speaker and prolific author. We are fortunate that he lives in the city near us and he occasionally comes to our church. This day he spoke on Mark 6:45-52.

In this passage Jesus had just fed the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fish and the people were all going home. Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake. Jesus wanted to go up to the mountain to pray.

"When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. And he saw they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought he was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid,' And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened."

Here are my notes from Paul Tripp: How does God build faith in us? Jesus crafted experiences, difficulties for his disciples, and then revealed his glory. In this passage, his disciples were in a difficult moment and not because of sin. They were in that particular situation because Jesus had told them to be there. They were there by the will of God. So why does God choose difficult moments for us? God knows we are very self-reliant. Jesus takes us beyond our strength and wisdom because he loves us. God takes us to the end of ourselves. Difficulties are not just for God to bail us out, but part of his plan. God doesn't want just circumstantial rescue for his followers. He doesn't want just to make life more "doable" for us. Our difficulty + His glory = God's Grace. In a moment of difficulty, do we see ghosts and become more terrorized and fearful?

Jesus got into the boat and declared his sovereignty. "It is I." The scripture says the disciples were utterly amazed. That's not complimentary because it wasn't faith. Why didn't they understand? They had not been learning their lessons. Why were they unprepared? Why do we panic in difficulty? Do we have a life of expectancy, hope and courage? Or do we give in to fear? It says the disciples' hearts were hardened, resistant to change, just like a stone.

Jesus has invaded our lives. Are we too satisfied? Do we not long for greater spiritual growth because we want calm seas and no wind? Then we don't want grace. Paul Tripp ended his message with this thought: Hold on to the gift of Jesus until he radically transforms you into his image.

I have been thinking there must be a balance between contentment with what you have and a selfish grip on what you have so that you resist any change in circumstances. Okay, that describes me. Keep it all the same and I'm happy with that. But then I do want desperately to know him more deeply and see his glory and grace. In that case, I am inviting difficulty. But also inviting Jesus to join me on that journey. He is always there and I am always delighted in how he reveals himself to me and lets me know he is there. Why do we so quickly forget all the miracles he's done in our lives in the past? I need to keep my heart from being hard.

We got home from the hospital last Wednesday night and I had an e-mail from Liana's Sunday School teacher. She said she and her husband had been praying for Fred that day and was everything okay? This, after I had sent out e-mails days before to everyone saying Fred was fine and recovering. But God put it on her heart to pray and she sensed something was up. So when I thought we were all alone at the hospital, we were not. God is gracious to us.

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