View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Friday, March 8, 2013

So you think you have it tough!!

No matter how tough things are going, you can bet that there is someone who is going though tougher times.  Be it health, finances, marriage, job or no job, if you look around it won't take you long to find someone in a worse place than you.  But first, I need to lay some back ground.  

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Sue, a lady in our church that Jeri and I have become friends with,  wanting to know if I was interested in driving a young lady, Heidi, to her dialysis appointment once or twice a month.  I said sure, since I have been looking for opportunities to volunteer anyway.  So she gave my name to Mary Ann who coordinates all the various drivers for the three days a week that Heidi has dialysis. 

Heidi is in her mid-thirties, maybe 5' 1" or 5' 2", can't weigh 80 or 85 lbs., has been married to Dale for 12 years.  Shortly after their marriage both her kidneys failed.  Her first transplant lasted a year before her body rejected it.  Her mother then donated a kidney, only it was  rejected 6 months later.  During the second transplant operation she suffered a major stroke leaving her partially paralysed on her right side.  In the ensuing years she has had two open heart surgeries replacing heart valves, and two minor strokes.  She just returned from a weeks stay in a Honolulu hospital where they were treating her for a blood infection that could be damaging her heart valves again.  She may be facing a third heart operation.  

Jeri and I picked her up this Wednesday morning at 10:15 a.m. and drove the 30 minutes to Keauhou where the dialysis lab is.  She was obviously tired from the trip from Honolulu the previous day, and I'm sure from needing the dialysis, so there wasn't much conversation.  I found out later that is pretty common with her as she has a quiet personality.   I also know from personal experience that when you don't feel well, sometimes conversation is the last thing you want because it takes effort to think and talk.  Especially with a total stranger.  So we just enjoyed the ride in the Camaro, the breath- taking views of the ocean, the warm sunshine and air flowing through the open windows of the car.   

My thoughts turned to the irony of two people sitting side by side in the same car, neither of who by all rights should still be alive, yet here we were still pressing on with what ever God has planned in our lives.  

You have heard me in the past compare life to the poker game of "seven card no-peek"  where you are dealt seven cards face down, you don't get to look at them, and you turn them over one at a time.  You don't get to exchange them or discard them, you play the hand dealt to you.  

The difference is that God is the dealer, He knows what cards you are getting, and has planned for the good and the not-so-good cards.  Nothing comes as a surprise to him.  Therefore, no matter what your situation is, stop worrying, take each day and get through it, then do the same the next day, and every day thereafter, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.  Enough cliches in that sentence for you?  Glad I don't have to make a living at writing.  Or Golf.

I don't know what the future holds for Heidi, but it sure doesn't look promising from where I sit. But then I don't have God's view and He may have something very special in store for her.  God is already blessing her with people who love her and are ministering to her and her husband, a couple who are providing an ohana (sorta like a mother-in-law apartment) free of charge, and a large network of people who are willing to give up time to take her to the dialysis appointments so her husband can maintain his job.  

My thoughts then turn to Peggy and Teresa who are fighting the return of cancer, and Pam who is fighting it for the first time, the tough days that they are having with the effects of the chemotherapy, of daily dealing with the consequences if this doesn't work.  There is a huge elephant in the room of their lives and it is impossible to push out.  That is why prayer by all of us is so important, to sustain and uplift their spirits, to carry them through the difficult days that they have.  

I have known and experienced the prayers of many of you the past three years, and I pray that you all will pray for these and others who are suffering.  Send cards, letters, e-mails, call, visit, talk to them because there are days that the loneliness can be overwhelming.  Love them like no one else can. 

 Eph_6:18  Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people. 

Jas_5:13-16  Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises.  Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord.  This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven.  So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. 

One last thought, or confession, how ever you want to look at it.  There are days when I am sitting in the sun, absorbing the heat and the seemingly healing rays of the tropical sun, when the feelings of guilt flow over me that, for the time being, God has spared me what others have gone through.  Why were the prayers for my friends Freya, Bruce, Mel and John not answered.  Only God knows the answer, but it still perplexes me.  Then again, maybe I am spending to much time in the sun.  These thoughts only occasionally occur to me on the golf course.  Hmmmmm.  Really can't spend much more time playing golf. 


  1. A reader of my blog is a retired Baptist preacher who is suffering serious heart problems. He told me he doesn't know exactly what is in store for him but he has read the Book and he knows how it ends, and so do you. Insofar as God answering prayer, you and I both know that sometimes no is also an answer.

    Great blog.

    Ron & Linda

  2. I love this article for it makes you stop and think about things. A lot of times we feel sore for out selfs but if we open our eyes and hearts we find someone is hurting more. Last year when Jerry had open heart surgery and they did not expect him to live, I found a mother and father whos son was in the hospital recoverying from brain surgery with was cancer and he was in stage 4. It was good to add them to prays and even though he is still alive he is not doing well, but his family from Echo to Pendleton have become close friends. If we open our eyes we can always find someone worse off of suffering more than us and we need to let God work through us for them. God Bless your Blog. Kathy and Jerry

  3. Hi Mike and Jeri,

    My thoughts go to you and how wonderful you are to be helpful, when others are in need. My thoughts also go to the broad theme that I see playing out in our world. The tone seems to be one of self centered behavior. Obviously we can see it in politics and it is rampied in our worlds economic matrix. I could give you a thousand examples, but this is not necessary --- I'm sure you are tuned in. This type of behavior should not be rewarded, by our support.

    You touched on life. It is the wonder of all wonders. God gave it to us and perhaps as you said he gave us a "no peek" hand. My question is, is the hand dealt subject to change by our good works? Or, is set in stone?

    Good blog,

    Love Terry and Rachel

  4. Good question, Terry, not sure I have an answer. I will refer you to my April posting in 2011 titled "Moving on, Part II" that I think deals with this very issue. God may deal out the cards of life, But He knows what those cards are, we don't. If our days alive were determined before the foundations of the earth were formed, then I have to believe that God is in control and nothing in our life will surprise Him. If He controls the day we are conceived, the day we are born and the day we die, then He has to control everything in between. Otherwise everything would be in chaos. We have freedom of choice in things like what I wear today, what I eat, drink, etc. Some of what we choose effects the quality of our life, but cannot shorten or lengthen it. That was determined eons ago. I have seen people that ate, drank, smoked, done drugs and lived decades longer than they should have, but had a very poor quality of life. I also have seen those that ate healthy, re-framed from alcohol, drugs and cigarets; exercised, went to church, honored God, did good deeds, their quality of life was great yet they met untimely deaths .... in our view.

    I don't believe that any amount of good deeds will change God's agenda, or plan. The trials and tribulations that we have in this life are part of the molding and shaping that God does in perfecting us for that day when we join Him in Heaven. Salvation is based on faith, not on good works, so that we cannot boast. Eph. 2:8 "For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it." Rom 4:5 "But those who depend on faith, not on deeds, and who believe in the God who declares the guilty to be innocent, it is this faith that God takes into account in order to put them right with himself."

    Salvation is based solely on the belief that Jesus is the son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again on the 3rd day. The good deeds and works that Christians do is based on service to Christ for what He did for us. Works and good deeds done out side of Christ are dead and will not earn salvation or forgiveness.

    So I guess the answer is that the cards are set in stone. I look at Heidi and no amount of good works is going to change her situation, only a miracle by the hand of God. No amount of good works done by me prior to my two bouts with cancer changed anything, yet I believe my faith in God and Christ did. This last cancer should have killed me, yet God spared me because this was just one more step in his project of molding and shaping me for his service.

    My life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your pathways straight." He has fulfilled His promise and blessed me beyond imagination.

  5. Thank you, for the wods, Mike. While the golf references would never be something I would hear from my Dad, the thoughts about God certainly are. Caring, giving, and wondering about God, and His thoughts, are certainly traits I have pursued after living with my Dad.

    Eric Brown