Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Refreshing Seasons"

Two dear friends, of the "English Rose" variety, sent me a packet with a lovely note, a couple of encouraging Christian pamphlets and the following quote, taken from the Spurstowe book " The Wells of Salvation Opened" (available for purchase from Reformation Heritage Books http://www.heritagebooks.org/item.asp?bookId=2024 )

"Refreshing Seasons"
"The summer and winter, by an inviolable ordinance He has made to succeed each other , the one to be as a key to open the womb of the earth that it might discharge itself of its many births; The other as a key to shut it, that so it might not languish and grow barren by a perpetual travail. Now if the wisdom of God has has these common mercies wherein His enemies have a share (as well do others) set such appointed times, as may make them more useful and beneficial to his creatures, certainly He will not fail to perform to His people the promises of His free grace in that season and fullness of time, which may best suit their welfare and his glory. " - William Spurstowe (1605-1666)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rejoicing over God's provisions...

Note: The ramble below was written a week ago and does not reflect that I am much improved in health since.
I have absolutely no tie in between this picture and what I expect to post. I have always had a major thing for river rocks. I suppose I could try and wax lyrical and making a connection between what I planned to blog and this picture but it would be contrived.

Over the years of visiting New Hampshire the oft repeated phrase "ooohhh look at this one, we have to take THIS one, it's really different, see how sparkly, grey and pink..(fill in blank___)...it is?", and the semi-nagging concern "what if we are depleting the river bed to its ultimate ruin..Is there a conservation law about river rocks?" competed in my thoughts with enough success that our car's muffler was not touching the highway but likewise the garden did not lack a proper rock pile. NOTE: No matter how stunning they are fresh from the river bed, they look like nearly identical smooth black rocks once they leave their "natural" environment for yours.

Now living in Idaho, where people actually pay garden centers to bring in large rocks and set them decoratively about the yard, ("yes sir, just hoist that one over there atop the imported sod, which is atop the obligatory sprinkler system, which is atop desert sand , just right of the tumble weed" ) I am sorry that I don't have a couple of those New Hampshire rocks in my back yard.(We do have a vinyl garden Gnome named Mr. McTavish, who came all the way from Ft. William, Scotland in his own train seat, but that is a another story including how we don't "believe in Gnomes")

I wonder if I can go back to the current owners of my former Maryland Cottage and say "see that black rock there, I brought that from New Hampshire back in the 80's, could I have it back now if you aren't using it?"...Of course I'd have to carry it on a plane to get it back here but nae bother...it'd be worth it. I wonder if there are nice rocks in the Idaho rivers? Even if there are, it's not the same, they are not New Hampshire rocks. Ah ha...I have a plan, a cunning plan....My daughter and her husband are planning a trip to NH this summer, they could bring me a rock, at least one...they could MAIL me rocks...what a thought! There is hope yet.

Monday night( April 10th), I had a particularly fearful bleeding event, which left me feeling weak knee-d and dizzy. I found myself crying out to the Lord for help more fervently than usual (hand to flame usually does seem to result in at least temporary fervency.) I re-iterated in prayer, confession like, how utterly unable I am to cause ultimate healing in this situation. I repeated how glad I would be to obtain some Cyklokapron but that I also had exhausted my strength for continuing to try and chase some down. I also realized and acknowledged that God could, if he willed, stop the bleeding without any outside intervention but that whatever he chooses to do, I hope with his enabling, to accept gratefully.

You may be thinking, sounds like she is giving up, but she can DO something surely, has not God ordained means ? Of course I can and am doing whatever means seems right. I can aim myself at another doctor's office visit, I can pick the doctor I think is best, I can sign up for whatever procedure seems prudent, but I cannot make those things be effective, even if they are effective, I cannot make them do no harm. The best intentioned and skilled doctor in the world, cannot guarantee a perfect surgery and outcome. No one can promise me that surgery won't be going from the frying pan into the fire. No one can promise that not doing surgery isn't already the fire. Only God knows if just one more month of enduring will or won't see the end of this woe regardless of doing anything. He knows what is just around the corner because he ordains the corner.

To the naked eye, it's all about presumed "risks vs. benefits." I have an uncle whom I've never met, who apparently does "risks vs. benefit" determinations for a living. I think he's called something like a "risk management assessor." I wonder if one has to be an atheist to do the job? Just as it bothers me to hear parents say to their children " I promise I won't let anything bad happen to you" the idea of making decisions based on presumed risk vs benefit boggles my mind. I'm not saying it isn't part of wisdom to weigh up such things, but I expect that one should do such analysis on one's knees, with fearful trembling.

All that said, once it is established in one's mind that God will do as he will, for his glory and our good, my good, then the trembling part can subside somewhat and with the boldness that comes only from the applied blood of Christ, and the help of the Holy spirit, one can have a good long Abba talk, letting the peace that comes from knowing that I'm not called to "know" what will happen, nor to secure outcomes, bring rest to my soul. Knowing the one who can,will, and do to his good pleasure is and should always be enough. If only the brain fog of fatigue, the depletion of health and sleep, and the lingering stench of sin didn't get me off track at times.

I can pray and think and DO....whatever I "DO" be it watchful waiting, the taking of pills, accepting surgical intervention, knowing that God is going to guide, protect, lead, provide, heal, not heal as he sees fit and that he will do good. (four measly lower case letters doesn't seem to do justice to describing what "GOOD" God does.)

I do get afraid, will it hurt ? Will I ever have a full quality life again ?, am I doing the "right" thing ? As I go on in this experience, I have a greater awareness of God's merciful enabling and grace, that will see all of his own, through all that is yet to come.

I know this awareness of God's care, is not profound (the care itself is beyond profound, unimaginably so and is illustrated not only in this life but most particularly in the pages of scripture), any more than prying a whining toddlers hand off the swing set and dragging said child home, only to have them forget all about it and be at peace five minutes later, is profound. It's a duh moment surely, but it feels good when the "safe to rest in Jesus" bit sinks in. I know my sinful self to be enough of an amnesiac, or idiot as the case may be, to need God to "lather rinse repeat" this awareness often. Anymore, I find myself praying as I go to sleep that God will, in mercy, hold on to me, a sinner, not because I doubt his faithfulness but rather because I'm certain of my own unfaithfulness.

One of my favorite books which illustrates the mercy of God on those of us who are forgetful and dense, is called "The Memoir of Mrs. Marion Veitch." She was the wife of one of of the covenanting ministers in Scotland. He was hunted from pillar to post by the King's men and she had to keep herself and her brood of children moving hither and yon without being able to consult her husband as to what he might think best. She was seemingly "on her own" for months at a time, though I do note that he must have managed to return every so often as a new baby would be reported as having arrived.

In her brief memoir, which I hope to print out bits of here in future, she reports regularly arguing with her heart and mind over the promises of God. First she would apply one in faith by aid of the Holy spirit, as made out to her, by a merciful God , much as a check would be. Shortly afterwards she would find herself fretting and forgetting and having to repent of this sin she referred to interchangeably as "unbelief" or "misbelief." I had never heard the term unbelief applied to something a believer might do. In my cultural/church experience, the term unbelief was associated with not believing in God, NOT in failing to trust in the promises of the word. This notion was most fascinating to me, though even now I may prefer the term "misbelief" though I am not certain which word is the more theologically precise.

The idea, that if God promises us something as believers, and we are believing, living, fretting, praying as if these promises are not secure, could be, should rightly be considered a form of unbelief, is I think, very convicting. We apparently (you probably know this through and through, hence proving my point about my own denseness) are not only to believe IN God, but to believe everything he declares in his word regarding...well everything. Himself, his nature, ourselves. This one is worth pondering, but I'm not bright enough to do it justice. I'll put some good quotes relating to this as I find them. Feel free to do the same in the comments section.

So long story longer, after the night of weeping prayer, end of myself (no surely there is more, ugh...wish it were the end of sinful self) knowing all is in God's care, my husband woke me with a parcel from Fiji. It contained the much desired Cyklokapron, the medicine I lived on in the UK to help reduce bleeding and thereby help reduce iron loss. It is enough for 16 days if needed constantly, more days if used occasionally. It cost a small fortune. I had no reason to expect that the parcel would ever arrive , and zero expectation of it coming quickly, but it did, in about 10 days from ordering it. That said, I've not had a "Cyklokapron worthy" episode since it got here, and haven't taken a single pill of it. I don't want to say "God brought me the medicine" but it surely did feel like a wonderful way to start the day and I felt very cared for, in it's provision. Which takes me to my next meander...

Having this medicine, the efforts to obtain which had given me no end of effort and grief, all seemingly to no avail, a medicine I may not be able to stay in supply of for all sorts of reasons, makes it very "rare" and not to be wasted, which gives the said pills a "quality" to them far beyond the "value" one would place on, say a 1000 pill bottle of aspirin from Costco, reminds me of the bigger reality. I could have those pills to hand, and take them, and they may fail to work. They are not my savior. Years ago, I read something in Scudders "The Christian's Daily Walk" (at least I think he said it, now I'm starting to wonder if this is in Baxter's Christian Directory instead...if anyone has this quote, do pass it on) about taking medicine. It was to the effect of "If we say grace, asking God's blessing upon ordinary physick (that being our daily bread) how much more so might we ask God to bless extra-ordinary physick?"....

I was floored by this suggestion when I read it. I was particularly convicted a couple years ago, by the Holy spirit's application of a sermon by David Silversides (link for Loughbrickland in links section) and one by Jonathan Edwards (also sermon audio), that to fail to pray before eating,is to live as practical heathens. I still forget at times, in my haste,to my shame and surely to my souls poverty, to ask God's blessing on every morsel of food I ingest. I agree with Scudder(Baxter?) that it is crucial to thank God for the medicines we take and ask his blessing upon them. Not only have I taken pills without grace, but I know run a sick child to the pediatrician without praying as I went. How merciful and forgiving God is.

Creatures of habit and sinfulness as we are, as I am, I think it can help us to be purposeful in our acknowledgement of God's merciful provisions. It is all too easy to auto-pilot our prayers (which may or may not be prayers in the truest sense of the word but again, another topic) Simply that we might pause with purpose, glass on table, pill in hand,to think of God's providence, purpose, plan, provision in our food, water and medicine. (The asthmatic in me wants to add air, but you get the idea.) All of the above reminds me of the words "Lord I believe, now help my unbelief."....Lather rinse repeat...Comments? Talk amongst yourselves...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Update coming ASAP

Hey ya'll, thanks for the notes and for asking after me. Will do a proper post soon as I can. I am feeling improved, though the situation hasn't really changed that much, in that I am still losing iron, but praise God have been able to take the big iron pills almost every day despite unpleasant side effects. Feeling systemically that I have returned to about 30% of my "old self." The improvement was dramatic after the first week or so of iron, now it is not as dramatic, but I feel much much better than I did at my lowest point. I am also have less heart palpitations as I go on.
I had a good talk with the nurse at my doctor's office which has helped me to feel reassured that I am not alone in this experience. She also helped me to have a better sense of what to expect if things get worse, just so I'll know what to look for. Thanks for the prayers, will write on other matters as soon as I'm able.