I did not expect at this point of my life to be dealing with a series of health concerns that have been, quite honestly, burdensome. I am extremely grateful for the wonderful care I have received. We are blessed to have a primary care physician, a family doctor who is both knowledgeable and compassionate, and a man of faith. I have received, by today's standards, timely appointments with specialists, and was most fortunate to receive a quick surgery date to relief the intense pain I was experiencing in my back. For all of this I am truly thankful. But, as I have quite often said to Janice of late, I don't want to live like this.
Though she has been kind and gracious, as she quietly reminds me, 'for better or for worse', it bothers me deeply that I have had to rely on her to help me get up, get dressed or drive me to yet another appointment. I feel helpless at times. I don't want to be that person whose calendar is filled with doctor's appointments, tests and scans. Yet this has been my journey for the past year-and-a-half, even longer. I cannot remember the last time I woke up or went to bed feeling no pain; I have a greater empathy for those who live with chronic pain.
In all of this I have sought to continue to do the work to which God has called me. I am most grateful for a loving and caring church family, for the support of our Elders and Leadership Team. As I have said to them, 'I'm trying, I'm doing my best to honor the call that God has placed on my life'. At this point, I don't belief God has or is releasing from that call, and my desire is still to serve in my role as the pastor at Valley. I believe God has given me, these past number of months a special grace to be 'in the pulpit', strength to literally stand and speak His truth. I am blessed and honored to serve my Lord and you, the people of Valley. But still, I wonder, 'Lord, what is that you are seeking to do in my life, through all of this'?
In part the answer has come as I have defaulted to my place of refuge and worship--the Psalms. Often of late, I lie awake at night, mostly because it's hard to get comfortable and sleep eludes me. In those times, I plug in my I-pod and listen to worship music, and in this I find strength and rest. During the day, I turn back to the Psalms, in which the writers often waver between anguish and trust; both are equally real in their lives. How do you trust, when pain is the preoccupation of your life?
The words of David in Psalm 23:4-5 have resonated within my heart: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
I am learning that navigating my way through the hard places of life does not mean passively trusting God but actively seeking His guidance; seeking His wisdom, to know how to apply the truth I find in His Word to the circumstances of my life. God's desire is to direct our paths. Sometimes that means redefining or refining or desires and wills. This is the place in which I find myself, and honestly friends, it is both scary, yet reassuring.
My 'bookmark' in a somewhat tattered version of 'The Psalms', written approximately 160 years ago, is a little card, titled 'My Covenant'. I vividly remember signing it almost 30 years ago. It reads: Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes and accept Your will for my life. I give myself, my life, and all, utterly to You to be Yours forever. Go on filling me with Your Spirit. Use me as You will: send me where You will; work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.
Okay, Lord, BECAUSE You are my God...I put my trust in You (Psalm 25:1 - The Voice).