What a shock! To discover I haven't been here in almost 2 months.
I was stunned.
I knew it had been some time - as the body grows older, so do the opportunities for something to go wrong or be off kilter. Mine has been kiltering along, off key, for the last 2 months. Bronchitis used to be quickly treatable and then booted out of my body's kilter.
This time, the bronchitis has been playing "Catch me if you can" and my doc has a catcher's mitt that has been growing larger and larger, to contain all the remedies we've tried. Meanwhile the cough had banished sleep and increased pain and wavered on pneumonia...then it seemed to be on the downturn, only to abruptly about face towards pneumonia, threatening, threatening...
This last antibiotic was the strongest one yet. After 4 days the cough has diminished in frequency and moistness and I've actually been sleeping - a lot.
And then, as all good things must come to an end, I hit a wall. Again.
The drug was so strong my body can't tolerate it, which, as many may know, makes for a weakened response in the body and gives bacteria enough time to figure out how to become antibiotic resistant. But my doc and I decided enough was enough.
The side effects had become terrific. I kept wondering why I had suddenly started experiencing very nasty new troubles. I tried to figure out what I had done/not done and when they had started and, wouldn't you know it, they all started when I started this new drug.
So, I'm back to square one. I'm hoping my imagination is the reason my cough sounds juicier again. It's still not as bad, I'm able to breathe between coughs and coughing spells that seemed to be without end are completely gone.
And it brought to mind again, the realization that at any moment I can be called into the presence of God - live and in Person - at any moment.
Actually, I look forward to that moment. For me, it will be the best Homecoming ever - I know my God, Who He is, How He operates, and He can be trusted. He is the One Who holds my every breath, and knows - to the last one - when it will occur. I am at peace about that. If you are not, please keep reading, and I will tell you how to meet Him - and how I did.. He is the gentlest of all the gentlemen in the world or out of it, and He cherishes you, even now, even before you choose Him. He has a wonderful plan for your life.
So you look at mine, and what is so wonderful?
All of it.
Yes, I've been in some sort of pain for most of it. I've had narrow escapes. I became too sick to work at my chosen profession, which I loved. From the outside looking in, I can understand the question marks in your eyes.
Doesn't look too full of adventure or happiness or excitement, does it?
Ahhh - but looks, as the proverb goes, are deceiving.
I was living a mundane life, get up, go to work, spend my time listening to music, hanging out, smoking dope. An average life for the 60's and 70's.
But in the late 60's I had almost bled to death.
Exciting, no? (Grin)
I had blood going in both arms, an oxygen mask, and lying on the stretcher, every time I moved, blood and clots fell off of it onto the floor.
Listening to the blood pressure results being called out I realized that if something didn't happen pretty dang quickly, I would be facing a just and holy God with not a single excuse to keep me out of a very painful and terrifying place.
When shock sets in, the mind becomes very calm, and your thinking seems to clear out the garbage and you are left with a totaling of the marks for and against you in the sight of God, whom you will shortly be face to face with.
So, I 'fessed up.
I spoke to Him and said that I realized I had nothing of worth to offer Him. It didn't seem like I could do anything, granted my condition, that would change that fact, and I told Him that I gave myself to Him, just the way I was, and hoped that was enough.
No, there was no light highlighting the person next to me, no confession that s/he was actually an angel, just a hurried consent to sign and a rush to the operating room.
I believe God accepted my paltry offering.
When I got thru all the mess and complications, I sort of forgot all that and went back to my totally secular existence and relegated God to storybook level, a fuzzy, friendly God with a white beard and grandfatherly heart.
Oh, I talked about Him a lot - with my friends, while high on marijuana, concocting theories galore - one friend came up with a computer in the sky, and it controlled everything you did, yada yada yada. All very intellectual.
One of my other friends said that kind of talk scared him, he didn't want any part of it.
And then a best bud was sent overseas and with nothing to do on the ship, fell in with a bunch of Bible thumpers and was drawn to a loving God that paid his way into heaven, and suddenly, life became complicated.
A complication I wanted no part of.
So, one evening, I sat down to write a letter, and intended it to be the last one.
Meanwhile, my lifetime best bud's brother called. His wife, it seems, had a desperate desire to learn guitar, and could they come over and maybe borrow one of mine and learn the rudiments?
Unknown to me, they had recently had the same sort of experience my overseas friend had had.
What a coincidence!!
If you are considering investigating this Christian thing, you will suddenly experience the same kind of coincidences.
You will suddenly be surrounded by Christians,
At school. At work. The neighbor next door. At the supermarket you will run into old friends who want to tell you this exciting thing that happened to them.
You will NOT believe it. They will be everywhere. And you will fight it with every ounce of rebellion in you. You will pull out every dusty ol' excuse you have ever heard and none of it will be because you honestly researched it.
It will be because there is an evil presence in this world that wants people to believe he doesn't exist and he is the one reigning in your heart, and he doesn't want to give you up. And, so far, you're not unhappy with his reigning - yet- so you don't want anyone making you feel guilty or - how dare you! - a sinner, so you close your ears and cross your arms and shake your head no, no,no.
And the coincidences keep coming.
And on this night, it took the shape of the brother and his wife.
They arrived and we started talking about how it had been too long, we needed to get together more often, standard stuff and I got the guitars out and they saw the letter writing stuff on the table and asked if they'd interrupted something.
I said no, and, of course, explained how my friend had been sucked into this cult thing and it was about Jesus and how fanatical he'd become, brainwashed, and I'd had enough. He had sent me a tape (in those days there were no iPhones or cellphones or instant anything. It was write or make a cassette tape, period.)
So they said, naturally, that it was too bad, and, as a matter of fact, they had recently become Christians, although they were not fanatics or anything.
So, of course, I pulled out the cassette player and said, "Listen to this stuff! I'm a Christian, but this is waaay out of my range!"
And as the words left my mouth, the God Who had accepted my bargaining ploy 15 years earlier said, "Gotcha!" And took me up on it.
He blasted me with the Holy Spirit, and it felt like my life had gone from black and white to Color, with a capital "C".
And everything on the tape made perfect sense.
Every. Single. Word.
I couldn't believe it. I was stunned.
Deep in my heart, I knew I was forever changed. Every Bible verse I'd ever read made sense.
I fell in love at that moment.
Completely, head-over-heels, eternal love with the One Who had created me to know Him, because He had loved me when I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye.
I knew I was a sinner already. (and so do you, even though you don't want to admit it.) - and when they left, I knelt on the hard wooden floor and gave myself to Him again, lock stock and barrel, and thanked Him for saying yes to me.
Then I finished the letter, praising God and quoting Scriptures I had learned as a child and told my friend I too was a Christian. Later I was told that, overseas mail being what it is, he got the letter a few weeks later and had spent the previous night in prayer for my soul. His friend told me he came running down a hallway with tears streaming down his face. He couldn't believe God answered his prayers so miraculously.
Jesus has perfect timing.
People remark that it's all coincidences. But, you know what? Those coincidences only happen when I pray. And they fit, down to the last detail, what I prayed for.
And no, I'm not saying that God gives me everything I pray for. He doesn't. Jesus knows what is His best, and Jesus gives me what fits His plans for me. And He's always teaching me. I learn so much at His feet!
And for me, the best instrument for teaching happens to be pain, in the form of a chronic illness which is painful. I learn from the Teacher Who knows first hand what pain does to a Person, inside and outside. And how He lets darkness surround me sometimes - so I learn that even in the dark, His hand is there for me to grab. Jesus knows exactly what is right for me, and reveals His love through all of it.
Yeah, I know, I sound like a fanatic. Same ol', same ol'.
But it has been a true adventure. Jesus has held me through some of the most painful moments of my life. When He burst into my life, I asked Him to take me into the depths with Him. (Unfortunately, I didn't say "through the depths") I didn't want to be superficial. I wanted to know He is real and know He is truly there, every second of every day.
And one day, I read the life's story of Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. God told him one night to ask for whatever he wanted - anything. And being God, He could make that offer.
Solomon asked for wisdom. The essence of what he asked for was actually a "hearing heart" - so he could hear the hearts of the people placed under his rule. He wanted to follow his father's path (David, an man after God's own heart).
And then I read the line, "and it pleased God" - so I, in my hunger to please Him with my life, asked Him for the same thing.
I had no idea that the only way to hear some one's heart is to have gone through the same things. So I began to walk the path of sorrow and pain, to learn how to hear, and He brought me people who needed someone with a hearing heart so very much. He taught me how to listen, and guides the words I say, and blesses them to others. He uses the words that come out of my mouth to teach me as He lovingly reaches out to that hurting person. It's an amazing thing to walk with the Living God.
I highly recommend it.
If you've read this far, you may be wanting to know how to do this. You don't have to go to a church to reach Him. I do recommend that you kneel before Him, as He is the King of the Universe and there is no one else, no Being as powerful in all the Universe. Think on that for a moment, then bow your head before Him. Tell Jesus you know you've sinned. You know He is holy and you aren't. And You know He became a Man and died on a cross in exchange for your soul - He bought you. Every ounce of His suffering on that cross was for you. He in reality died rather than live without you And you are asking Jesus to come in and take possession of your heart and all you are. Thank Him for His Holy Spirit and for answering His prayer and coming in.
What will happen?
Maybe nothing. Maybe an explosion of joy inside you. Maybe you will feel like everything is new and in living color. For others, it comes on gradually.
I highly recommend you get a Bible and read it. Daily. If you're a Shakespeare buff, get the New King James version, it is in Olde English. Otherwise, get the New International Version, just ask for the NIV.
These both are interpretations by scholars who tried very very hard to present what the verses actually mean. Some of the "New" translations that say they are simply easier to understand, are not sticklers for interpretation. They paraphrase and add subtle bits of New Age thinking that turn your heart in those subtle ways to think of a New Age God, not the Living God. Find a church that teaches verse-by-verse through the Bible - the Calvary Chapel Churches are good at this, to find one near you go to Calvarychapel.org. Wherever you are in the world, there is probably one near you - and meet with other Christians (yes, you are now "one of them") and learn the joy of fellowship as well as friendship. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them - click on the comment option, below (hold your mouse over the icons below and it will reveal a comment option.)
And welcome to the family of God! Adventure awaits you!