Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cause for Grumbling or Thanking ?

The prescription for my pharmaceutical drugs had lapsed and I was waiting for a requisition from my rheumatologist for a renewal.
Thinking ahead, I thought to prevent a potential 'problem'.   Sometimes the pharmacy is out of my drugs and I have to wait until they come in. So I called them, saying that a prescription renewal would be coming in in a few days and I was just checking to make sure they would have all my drugs in stock.  Checking on the drugs in question,  they assured me that yes they had them all on hand.
But when I went in a few days later to pick up my prescription they informed that the Leflunamide was back ordered and they only had enough to partially fill my prescription.
I was annoyed, and grumbled because I had specifically called ahead to give them time to reorder if necessary.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist and she took one look at my liver test levels and expressed her concern.   The first thing she advised me to do to try to bring the levels back into a normal range was to make sure  the possible cause, the drug Leflunamide,  was not dosed at more than 10mg a day.    I went home, checked my dosage and yes.. the bottle instructions were 20mg- taken every day once a day!
With  now needing to cut them in half --  my partially filled  prescription  was exactly right.  

I was humbled to think how all along God had been working on my behalf to make sure I didn't have to pay for what I would not need...  even when I was trying my best to work it according to what I thought was needed.
It was a good reminder to me to not only let God have control of my life -- but to recognize that the things that make me want to grumble could well be a 'gift' from God designed to give me His best.
Why is it so hard for us to believe that God really IS in the details of our life, that He really DOES care for us as He says in His word?
If we really believed it, how much more at peace we would be, how much anxiety would melt away, how much greater our trust would be.

"Casting ALL your care upon Him, for He cares for you !"   
I Peter 5:7

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Beauty Under Pressure

Recently, when the thermometer had been consistently dipping below the freezing mark and water was turning to ice, my daughter called to urge us to go see the waterfall in Rider Lake.
While the waterfall was not completely frozen, the ice formations on the sides were really something to see! (the photos don't quite do it justice, sorry) 

For  ice to form, the rigours of nature freeze water bit by bit into a holding prison.  Instead of a soft moving flow of liquid it is  turned into a solid cold mass, with potential to do harm if large chucks of it fall onto hapless passers-by or if  it turns safe roads into slippery unpredictability.
And yet, as I stood gazing at the ice formations framing the centrally still flowing waterfall, I was struck with how ice  that could be  potentially dangerous could also be incredibly beautiful in variety of design.

As I contemplated, my thoughts turned to the pressures we experience in life and how we are affected by them.   We prefer to be 'free flowing' with nothing to hinder our plans or desires.   But life isn't like that.  Too often we find ourselves imprisoned by circumstance beyond our control and we are frozen, unable to move at will.
At that point, we have a choice -- will we be a potential danger to others, as well as ourselves or will people stop to admire the beauty 'pressure' has created in our character, attitude or wisdom.

We learn best under pressure, though we never choose it - it comes uninvited and unbidden.   And yet, it is God who is in control... it is He who knows what pressures will bring forth the best in us, if we submit to its molding work.  Submit and let Him create beauty or resist and by our reactions/attitudes create potential for harm.

I have been studying James...  and the first verses speak to the pressures that are part of our lives... ".. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience... let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect , complete , lacking nothing!"   James 1:2-4
Count it JOY ?  when we are 'frozen' into place, in a cold uncomfortable place when we would rather be 'free' ?  I do not believe that James is suggesting we be masochists taking pleasure in suffering -- I think he is directing us to focus on the 'beauty' that God can bring out of the pressures He allows in our lives.   Beauty of character in us - lacking nothing - but also the effect we can have on those who 'stop to look' at what has been wrought in our lives and in turn inspires them to reach for the best in their lives.

None of us enjoy the 'chill' of suffering, of feeling the pressure suffering puts upon us ... but if we can trust that God can even here bring forth beauty in us, that there is indeed a purpose in the difficult things in our life  - then perhaps the suffering becomes easier to bear!
As it says In I Peter 1:6,7
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trial, that the genuineness of your faith , being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ!" 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good Chocolate, Good Books and My Thoughts

Last night a nephew and niece came to dinner bearing gifts. One of the gifts was a box of chocolate brought personally from a recent trip to Germany.
Opening the box, anticipating the delight to my taste buds that chocolate always delivers, my visual senses were captivated by the unique packaging, adding to my appreciation of the chocolate itself.
Packaging is important!

I also read a book yesterday, "Lessons from a Sheep Dog" by W. Phillip Keller.  It is the kind of book that does to my mind what chocolate does for my taste buds.  
I highly recommend this book as a must read....Truth is always true, but 'packaging' is important!  Phillip Keller, as one of my top favorite authors knows how to package the truth in mind-appealing ways.
As I was enjoying the chocolates and discussing with my husband some of the insights revealed in my book  -  my thoughts, linking the two together, presented me with an interesting lesson.

Our taste buds respond to whatever is put in the mouth  - as also -- our emotions respond to whatever we put our faith in!
Can we allow  our taste buds and our emotions to rule us ? trusting  them enough to follow their lead implicitly?

If our taste buds signal approval to what is melting in our mouth, is that enough to ensure that the 'substance' in our mouth is safe to eat ?    No, the food could be either unhealthy or it could be poisoned -- neither of which would be discerned by our taste buds.   The only message our taste buds deliver to us is whether or not the 'flavour' is good or bad.

So also with the things we put our faith in.  Offer someone a quick profitable return for an investment and their emotions soar to a high in response to the believed promise. But in following their 'faith', they experience the loss when their investment fails to deliver.  Now, with the object of their faith destroyed, their emotions plummet.  Their emotions only signalled whether something felt good or bad.

While taste buds are a God-given gift without which the consumption of food would be deprived all enjoyment - they must not be allowed to be our sole guide to our dietary needs and our health.
So also our emotions that respond to whatever we 'believe'   cannot be our sole guide to our mental and spiritual health.  God has given us emotions with which to enjoy Him, and the things He has given us "richly to enjoy" (I Tim.6:17)  But as our taste buds are directly connected to what we put into our mouth, so also our emotions are directly connected to what we 'believe'.    If we believe there is a cougar waiting to pounce on us, our emotions register fear.  If we believe there is a great deal waiting for us at the mall, or  that a man or god or saint will help us our emotions respond favourably.

There is a focus on good health today and the media is flooded with information on how to feed our bodies with good food to maximize health. Education  is the key to know when to overrule our taste buds and when to simply enjoy them to the fullest!
But is the focus on spiritual health as strong?   Are we as careful what we put our trust in as we are about what we put in our mouth ?  Or are we still too quick to say .. "That doesn't feel right!"  without allowing our minds to search out whether or not the 'belief' our emotions are responding too is indeed truth or lie,  fact or fiction !
"Oh, taste and see the Lord is good, blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"  
Psalm 34:8 
"How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  
Psalm 119:103 
"And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 
Romans 12:2

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Modern Parable

This parable was inspired by the Anna's Hummingbird that entertains me when I sit at my kitchen table. The Anna's Hummingbirds no longer fly south for the winter but stay in south western BC year round, so I leave my patio hummingbird feeders up all year.

A Parable
Once upon a time there was a hummingbird named Anna who was content to winter over in her summer home rather than migrate to the south, the age honoured tradition still followed by many of her kin. She had learned that there were certain 'flowers' that yielded unending nectar, making the long yearly trek unnecessary.

On one particularly warm winter day she flew farther afield than she was in the habit of doing and found herself on the edges of the southern regions.   She encountered one of her kin, known by the name of  Rufus, who eyed her rather shrewdly.  "You arrived just NOW ?"
Anna hardly glanced at him. "No, no.. I wasn't intending to come south for the winter. I will be flying back to the north were I have been spending the winter months."
Now, Rufus, was baffled. "But why would you do that ! You will starve !"
"Starve?" exclaimed Anna.  "Why would I starve. Food is plentiful!"
Rufus decided Anna was delusional since he knew without doubt that flowers all die in winter climates cutting off all nectar supply.
   Rufus tried another angle. "But.. but...  then you will freeze!"
"Ach, you are but dumb!"  scolded Anna.  "Do you not know anything?  Have you not heard of torpor?"
"Torpor?" repeated Rufus mystified. "What in the world is torpor?"
Anna sighed impatiently.  "It is what I do when the nights are cold.  I go into a hibernating state, thereby lowering my heart rate and slow down my metabolism  .. and I rest quite comfortably until I reverse the process at dawn."
"You are crazy, "  scoffed Rufus in disbelief. "I never heard of anything like that. I don't believe you!"
And he flew away leaving Anna shaking her head at the self-deluded bird who could not accept other than his own experience!

Yes, of course my little story is silly ... but isn't it easier to see ourselves in the ridiculous?   How often are we prone to only  believe our own experiences?   We filter the outside world in through our own grid and sometimes deny the truth simply because we have not experienced it.
Call it closed minded, call it narrow minded, call it wearing blinders --   but those are terms that apply only  to others, never to ourselves, yet too often we are more governed by our own view,  the opinion of the masses,or what feeds our comfort zone than we are by our unbiased thoughtful consideration of all available information or wisdom.

We must determine what/who our ultimate source of reliable 'truth' is, to discern what our final belief rests on.
If it is 'self' -- what feels good to me, what makes sense in my own mind -- we are trusting ourselves to a very insecure 'anchor'   -- not unlike a climber trusting that a rope will secure him on his climb up a rock cliff when the rope is loosely fastened  to a twig at the cliff's top edge..
If it is the masses --  we all have seen the shifting sand of public opinion.   What holds their attention and passion one day is quickly forgotten the next day or moved to the opposite view point.
If it is the 'wisdom' of science --  anyone studying science (so called) can see the evolution of ever changing 'facts and conclusions'  as new evidence emerges to invalidate the previously held theories.
If it is personal experience -- you are limiting yourself to a very narrow source of 'input'.  No one person can experience all of life or all of life's situations or complexities.

There is, of course, only One Source of all Truth,  that is God and His revealed Word, the scriptures.   But even when we give mental ascent to holding that opinion,   we are still so often 'caught' unawares being influenced by a world view or popular opinion, or take the easy path of following without questioning the teaching/leading of a man.   Unless we are on guard, we will be confused or misled more often than we would care to admit.

I have been wondering more and more recently --  What if we REALLY believed the things Jesus said  - those words in red in most of our bibles - and made them our final word on how we conducted our life , our spoken words, thoughts and actions.    I have been struck lately that in determining a course of action or a conclusion Jesus' words are often not even considered.  Strange, isn't it? when He is the One that  holds all things together,  is our Creator, Saviour and Judge....  and in the end ONLY His words will matter.

"Jesus... asked His disciples, saying.'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?' 
So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 
He said to them...'But who do YOU say that I am?"    Matt.16:13-16 

If our answer is the same as Peter's response, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"  how does it show in how we live according to His words?  Are we truly His disciples? In training to be like Him?