I am back! I have returned home after foot surgery on August 19th and a couple of weeks in the Transitional Care Unit. I will continue to be non-weight-bearing for awhile, but I will heal closer to family and friends, my books, my computer, and of course, Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog (BSD). Jack was not evidently excited to see me after several weeks. But I was told that the BSD was restless and hard to handle while I was gone, and that, upon my reappearance, became suddenly his sweet self again. He was probably missing Bible study.
If you have been following this blog, you have witnessed my struggle to come to terms with another time of confinement. I must acknowledge that all that I foresaw of the humiliations, confusions and random acts of limitation washed over me, swirled around me and within me. Even as I tried to be light and salt to my tormentors and tried to live out the various positive responses that I have written about in the last several posts, I was sometimes overcome with a sense of being devalued. I know I have a screw loose (see “This Is The Way Life Is”) and I do come to a truer and more faithful view of my world eventually. These words from C.S. Lewis are so true: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
Nonetheless, God met me in the hospital, and sometimes, I would awake overflowing with gratitude to God for the machines I was using, the skill of the surgeons, good air-conditioning, whatever devotional readings I had read that day and the creativity of RNs, LVNs, CNAs and physical therapists. One morning in particular, I found mentioned in one of my devotional readings a text from Proverbs that spoke to my condition and offered attitudes that I could hang my life on. I looked it up quickly on my Kindle English Standard Version Bible (ESV) between a multitude of mundane tasks. God somehow enabled me to memorize Proverbs 3:5-7 in less than five minutes and I still repeat it to myself from time to time.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, turn from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7, ESV)
Every word of this passage deserves to be understood and expounded. However, I will make just three points.
1) “Trust…with all your heart” is a way of loving God, as we are commanded to love the LORD “…with all your heart, soul and strength” (Jesus added “mind”!) We are not to trust our loving and faithful God as though we are hanging on by our fingernails, as if trust is a small, desperate hope. We are to be filled from head to toe with trust. Trust should fill our hearts so that fear, worry and secular (that is without God) attitudes are driven from our hearts.
2) “…do not lean on your own understanding” does not mean that we should not use our God-given minds, that we should be passive or mindless (something that God does not approve, see Romans 12:2) before reality. It means that we should not put our weight on, depend on, place our trust in what we understand but in God himself. Currently, I am non-weight-bearing on my right leg. However, I may bear weight on my left leg, lean on it, stand on it, hop on it, depend upon it.
3) “In all your ways acknowledge him…” We are not just organisms seeking survival and comfort. We are daughters and sons of God who will live forever. We ‘have bigger fish to fry’ than our own comfort and happiness. We are living for eternity. All the time and in every way we should reflect God’s agenda, and in my case, God’s agenda for my caregivers. Our paths become crooked, convoluted and confusing when we fail to live for God in every area of our lives.
Let me say a bit about ‘overwhelming’. Though I mentioned being overwhelmed by the love and presence of God in my last post, “Trust In Spite of Everything”, I am surprised that I have not written more about this theme, since it makes an appearance often in my teaching and no one else that I know of brings all the parts together. I still will not be able to give the full teaching because I must limit time with my computer because of the heat (105 F is just wrong) and my need to keep my leg elevated. There are good overwhelmings and bad overwhelmings. Bad overwhelmings might include all the unresolved issues of your life, a schedule that is too packed, broken relationships, diagnosis of disease, like cancer or AIDS, the pace of technological change, political or cultural change, threatening world events, etc. Bad overwhelmings are only overcome by greater good overwhelmings. I am struck by Jesus’ story of the man who had seven demons cast out of him. The demons wandered around looking for a new host, and not finding one, came back to the man and found a house swept and in order. So they went and got their friends and moved in. Jesus comment is: “The last state of the man was worse than the first.” I take away from this that it is not enough to say no to evil and sin. Repentance and commitment to change are not enough! One must be filled with something positive and good.
Considering how overwhelming the world and the realities of our lives are, the good overwhelming better be huge! I submit that only God is enough to overwhelm us with himself and drive out or make bearable the bad overwhelmings. He wants to baptize us in the realities of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We need a God who is awesome, holy and amazingly loving and generous! Our tame pictures of God or our idols are not big enough and will disappoint us and let us down. St. Paul instructs us, “Do not be conformed [from the outside – in, like a cookie cutter] to this world…” We are instead to “…be transformed [from the inside – out] by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2, ESV) I picture the Holy Spirit, the abundant life, the living water, the overwhelming love of God rising up within us to meet and then push back the external overwhelmings.
This was my experience in the hospital. Sometimes, in the early morning I would see that all was right and that God had placed before me amazing opportunities to plant seeds of the good news of God’s kingdom, to be light [to bring out the God colors of the world – The Message], to be salt [to bring out the God flavors in the world – The Message].
Well the nurse will be here soon to change my bandages and Jack has been giving his social misery howl. The BSD needs my attention (what an amazing creature; God’s design of all that I see of God’s creation is so precise, intricate and wise).
This post was powered, of course, by the new free U2 album, “Songs of Innocence” (2014) which has already been downloaded to your iPod or iTunes account if you have one. Excellent and evocative.