View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What I have Learned

When I made the decision to write for this blog, I wanted it to have a purpose rather than just one man’s rambling. I believe that the experiences each of us are involved in have a purpose in either teaching us something about God or his principles, or something about ourselves.

(2Co 6:4) Our work as God's servants gets validated--or not--in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times;

Or it just might not have anything to do with us but be for the benefit of those who are watching us – family, friends and neighbors – and how we react and respond to trials and hardship. With that in mind, I spent an afternoon reading Job again to refresh my memory of Job’s reaction to his excruciating pain and his “friend’s” attempt to minister and consol him. I had just come out of my daily radiation treatment and was not having a good day. Misery seeks company; hence I went to the book of Job.

If you have kept up with my blogs you are aware of what all I have been through. And, yes, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you.

(1st Peter 4:1) Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.

I have learned not to expect to get my own way. I am still pampered and watched over by wife and family, but I am also told in no uncertain terms that some things are going to be done a certain way, whether I like it or not. I have accepted that.

(Job 3:23) What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?

I have learned that when stuff happens in our lives, it does not have to make sense. I have leaned this over my lifetime of watching others have trials and hardships overwhelm them with no explainable reason. Jeri and I have had some of this and we no longer question God and what he allows to happen in our lives, because we have no idea what he has also protected us from. I cannot count the number of times that I should have been killed or severely injured by accidents. I have now battled two different cancers; one very common in men and very treatable with high percentage of survivability; the other is clear on the other end of the spectrum, almost as rare as hen’s teeth and with questionable survivability. Like Job, I am tempted to ask what I did to deserve this journey and then I have to remember that I am human and have sinned and probably deserve a lot worse. I truly believe that I have been blessed.

(Job 33:19-20) "Or, God might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, So they can't stand the sight of food, have no appetite for their favorite treats.

I have learned to eat something even when the thought of food turns my stomach. It is part of not having my own way. The doctors told me that I would lose my taste and lose weight and I laughed at them. I went through 8 weeks of radiation on my prostate and never missed a meal and worked like crazy to not GAIN weight. The first three weeks of this treatment series, I proved I was right! Unfortunately, they were also right. The last two weeks I have lost 10 lbs. From the second week on, food has tasted like metal or chalk, sometimes metallic chalk. No appetite. I pick at food and then leave it. Be careful what you pray for. Prior to January I had been praying for discipline to lose weight. I thought that going through surgery in February would have done it, but nooo, my body thumbed its nose at me and gained weight. I was appalled at the picture taken in Hawaii in March. So much for Pride!

(2Co 1:4) He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

I have learned the truth of this scripture by the number of people God has brought along side of us these last few months. I am encouraged by all the people who have passed through Portland and visited, invited us over to their rigs to visit and enjoy a meal, even played golf with me. I have especially enjoyed the mostly weekly lunches and discussions Bob Brown and I have shared.

(1Th 3:2) and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn't be discouraged by these hard times. He's a brother and companion in the faith, God's man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ.
(1Th 3:7) In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you're doing keeps us going.

I have learned the value of phone calls, cards and e-mail and how much those small gestures lift up and encourage someone when they are not feeling well. I have been one of those that wanted to call but didn’t know what to say. Well, I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you say, just hearing your friendly voice will usually start the conversation. It is always good to hear what is going on in your life, because right now I am tired of mine. Who knows, maybe sharing your troubles will cheer me up!

(Rom 12:10-12) Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
(2Th 1:4) We're so proud of you; you're so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you.

I have learned just how many friends I have, and they are many! I am again blessed beyond measure. I am astounded by the number of friends, friends of friends, churches, care groups, Sunday school classes, you name it, all across this country from coast to coast that are praying for good results from this treatment. I have no idea how God will answer, but I know He hears, and He will answer, and I will accept with thanks what ever that answer is. I expect y’all to hold me to that and remind me if the answer is not what we want.

I have also learned that I do NOT have any friends like Job’s and for that I am extremely grateful. Thank you for all the encouraging notes and e-mails.

(1Pe 5:9) Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.

I have – AGAIN – been taught that no matter how bad things are there is always someone else who is worse off. I see that every day in the waiting room as young, old and in-between shuffle off into one of the machines waiting to have their various and sundry cancers hopefully radiated into oblivion. Some go in wheelchairs; some come with IV’s attached because they are also undergoing chemo therapy. I can not imagine what that must be like. Today I am truly thankful for the cancer I have because it could be so much uglier. I may not be as thankful down the road, but today I am.

(2Th 1:11-12) Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time--pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

I have learned that my goal had better be the above scripture. I have tried to live honorably with integrity before God and man. How successful I’ve been will be however I am judged by you and God. Rick Warren was interviewed by Paul Bradshaw and discussed this very subject. He said:

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

(Luke 16:9) I want you to be smart in the same way--but for what is right--using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

And finally;

(Ecc 3:3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

It has been six weeks and 30 treatments in an effort to kill any possible cancer cells that might be lurking somewhere up my nose. They have cooked it, inside and out, and now the waiting period begins, to see if any dare come back to complicate my life once again. They have taken away my energy but have not broken my spirit. It is now time to build my body back up in strength and energy, and to await my new instructions from God as to what my purpose will be for my remaining days. It is now time to let the healing begin.