Struggling forward . . .
When I reflect on the week of August 27 it is easy to be a bit overwhelmed. The trip to the doctor, high blood pressure, watching two whole days of nothing but the Weather Channel, learning of Aunt May's passing, spending hours on the phone trying to find a flight that would get me to Georgia in time for her service, dealing with the sore throat and cough all added up to a crowded, frustrating few days. I had to reconcile myself with the fact that Aunt May's service would go on without me, but, bless Marty; she and her whole family packed up and drove down to be there. The "virus" I had got worse by the day and I finally went to my primary care doc last week. He prescribed the usual Z Pack and some high powered cough medicine. Throat is better, but still is sore and I only take the cough medicine when coughing keeps me up at night. The narcotic in it makes me have wierd dreams and saps my already depleted energy.
The really bright spot of the last two weeks was preaching in a small church about an hour away from Hattiesburg. What a beautiful place of worship! It reminded my of the Lutheran church I attended with Aunt May and family and when I went to Sunday dinner with family of friends who took me over there, I was reminded of Aunt May again. The table was spread with Southern summer favorites: baked ham, corn pudding, butter beans with okra cooked on top, fried okra, candied sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, grape salad, cornbread and at least a half dozen desserts. Worshiping there, being with new friends around the table was a vivd reminder that we are family in the Body of Christ.
When I returned to Jackson the day after Labor Day to try again for a treatment, my blood pressure remained high and there was again some question about whether I could be treated. After waiting and retaking it three times, it was declared safe. Of course, one is supposed to relax between takes in hopes the pressure will decrease, but sitting only serves to stewing over how high or low it will be on the next take. I am scheduled to go again Monday for scans, a doctor visit and another treatment. In times like this, I call to mind Paul's statement about the sufficiency of God. I can do nothing in my own strength!
I have been rereading Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation. It's one of those books from my "backporch" quiet times that God used to lead me to seminary and beyond. Merton writes, in chpter three, of the circumtances, the events, large or small that are but seeds planted by God. Whether or not they grow and bear fruit for the kingdom depends on how they are nourished--at least that's my interpretation of his writing. We are quick to say, "Everything happens for a reason," but how often do we use those "things," how often do we commit them to God and ask that He might use them to grow us and use us? Use doesn't necessarily follow. Use depends on our relationship with God.
Recently, some special new friends received a cancer diagnosis for the husband. We were all saddened by the news and frightened for them as they faced tests, results, treatment options, etc. I don't have the latest report at this writing, but do know that preliminary findings are good. God has used "illness seeds" planted in my life as a patient and as a caregiver to respond to others. In this particular instance I asked God how to respond as a friend to their specific needs. The answer was almost instantaneous: Be the "friend" like so many of yours have been through the years. Often, I thank God for faithful friends and the ways they have lightened our load, for their prayers, for their sacrifices for us. This week my prayer has been that I might learn to be such a friend to others. Make me more like Jesus, every day, in every way.