Sometimes it takes shock and awe for us to be drawn into a closer perspective of what lies at the bottom of our hearts. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
When I was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago I lived in shock for a period of time. Like most people who receive an alarming diagnosis like cancer when they were expecting something far less unnerving, my thoughts turned quickly to prayer. That evening when I returned home from the hospital tests, I knew that I needed to take my plight to the Lord in prayer asking for his help and, frankly, his willingness to spare my life. Being only 60 at the time, I hadn’t thought much about cancer from the standpoint of an imminent threat. Naively, I felt cancer was something for people much older, as if cancer needed a decrepid body in which to work. Since I wasn’t overweight, much of a drinker and didn’t smoke at all, I felt somehow that cancer wasn’t in the cards for me. I was wrong. The surprises kept coming though. When I turned to the Lord in prayer I came up empty. I didn’t know the questions to ask of God to get my prayer started. Alone with God, in my sudden shock, I was prayerfully–speechless.
I guess that you could use the term, shock and awe, to describe my reaction to the cancer diagnosis. And, you know, it’s times like this that God pushes you to the limit of your ability to understand how awesome he is. He’s got your attention and you’re totally alone with him and your problems. That’s when he goes to work.
Here’s a story. In the operating room of a large hospital, a young nurse was completing her first full day of responsibilities. “You’ve only removed eleven sponges, doctor,” she said to the surgeon. “We used twelve.” “I removed them all,” the doctor declared. “We’ll close the incision now.” “No,” the nurse objected. “We used twelve sponges.” “I’ll take full responsibility,” the surgeon said grimly. “Suture!” “You can’t do that!” blazed the nurse. “Think of the patient.” The surgeon smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse the twelfth sponge. “You’ll do,” he said. (Today in the Word, May 9, 1992.)
In a way it’s like walking through the back acres here at Beech Springs. The woods are beautiful and soon they will be blossoming with early spring growth. There will be violets and trilliums everywhere, the blue and white amidst the popping green buds of the shrubbery and trees around them. From a distance it looks great. However, when you walk through it in person, closely scanning at ground level, there are weeds and thorns everywhere as well. It’s like our lives really. Sometimes it takes shock and awe for us to be drawn into a closer perspective of what lies at the bottom of our hearts. God often requires a closeness and aloneness with us to make this work, to draw us into an awareness of how feeble and strapped our faith is. Our lives are so full of thoughts and strivings that even though we stop to pray, our prayers scrape the surface of what really needs spiritual repair. I was dumbfounded when I heard the diagnosis of cancer in my life. “You can’t do this God?” “I’m only 60.” “Look at all the Kingdom work I haven’t finished?” That’s when I heard God say, “You’ll do.” “Let’s live out this chapter and move on.” . . . And, so we have.
We pray. Heavenly Father, life is busy and it’s difficult for us to find the aloneness that you so often require to make our relationship with you manifestly repairing. Help us Lord to find time to be alone in your Word, to study it and be able to find the questions you are asking us to bring before you. Thank you Lord for the shock and awe that you bring into our lives to sometimes end our busyness while pointing us to you. Life is full of many chapters, all of which are in need of addressing as well as moving one. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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