Today’s Coffee Chat is a unique posting – it is the whole post. Pour yourself a cup of coffee—real or imagined. I wish we could sit face to face as I share what has been happening in the past few weeks. Then you could share with me and together we could laugh and cry.
Together we could cry out to the Triune God.
God’s path for me has been difficult. My body often feels there’s something trapped inside me, desperately trying to exit. It is so exhausting when it feels like I’m carrying extra weight inside my body that is continually fighting me.
Then God has allowed crazy additional things to happen – one such crazy was…
… out of nowhere, the index finger on my left hand became unusually infected. It didn’t come under control until three anti-biotics killed the crazy infection.
My doctor lanced it three times! But the infection returned three times. She then told me not to use my hand until it healed. Thinking it was well, I used the finger, only for the infection to return.
I had a “page” of the Blog written, but didn’t have the energy to post it last week.
Most mornings I sit and write my prayers. I’ve been doing this for 40 years. This morning, as I did it, I felt the Triune God wanting me to share my heart with you – not something happening years ago.
Many of you don’t know that Joe was recently diagnosed with Atypical Parkinsonism: Multiple System’s Atrophy. Simple description is that MSA is not Parkinson’s but acts like Parkinson’s. MSA is not ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) but acts like ALS. Presently, Joe’s body is experiencing some atrophy, especially in his lower back; it is painful and hard to maneuver.
We are blessed to have been sent to Emory University, where they actively research this rare illness.
They began Joe on an intensive physical therapy regimen, with for four weeks of intensive therapy, 3-4 days each week. This past Friday, with some pain growing in intensity, the therapists pulled back on the amount of therapy. They also ordered him to begin water therapy – though new water therapy patients having to wait 2-3 weeks before care begins.
Last Thursday two therapists, one after the other, told me things I needed to be aware of, watch for do. My response: It’s overwhelming! I can barely keep track of what I am supposed to do to maintain my own sanity – how do I stay on top of these added responsibilities?
Thank you for a day off from Joe’s therapy, an opportunity for working on the Blog this afternoon. But it’s hard, Father. Why the Blog? Do you want me to write it, or am I driven by false pride, thinking my story can help someone else? I don’t know, Father. I keep moving forward asking You to stop me, if it isn’t what You want.
Father, a part of me wants to walk away from the Blog – it will lessen the stress
Father, I cling to You. You are all powerful, all knowing, all loving. You have the power to change my path, to give me a life of ease. You are Lord and King, Your will be done. You know what is best for me! You love me so You will take me on the path that is best for my eternity, even if it hurts me today.
I accept that You have me where You want me – I accept that You have a purpose for all You are walking me through. Please give me wisdom, desire and strength to obey.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves,
who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,
the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope we were saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (ESV)
Father, how I long for freedom from this path of life; it feels deep and dark. I confess how I willingly walk into sin, seeking relief from other than You. I confess I am impatient! Please forgive me. I get angry at You, and am envious and jealous of others whose path seems easier. Thank you for the righteous fear You have given me and the gift of turning back to You.
I don’t understand how these feelings overpower me. You continually reveal your presence in my life. You teach me so much. In the darkest of times You let me know You are with me.
Father, hold me close – as I find myself in battle with myself and satan.
In Joshua 1:9 You promised …
“Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord Your God is with You wherever you go.”
You are with me everywhere. The God Sightings you give are amazing. In my darkest hour, You reveal Yourself. The sense of Your presence is what keeps me going.
Suddenly in the midst of this prayer my mind went somewhere else – I’m not sure why but the thought of the Narrow Gate and the Narrow Path flooded my mind. I went to Matthew 7 and read, then wrote.
“Enter by the narrow gate.
For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life,
and those who find it are few.”
Four warnings that are found in Matthew 7: 13-27 must be heeded by those who want to follow Jesus. (Paraphrased from the ESV Study Bible)
- 13-14: 2 gates and 2 roads
- The Wide Gate – easy.
- The Narrow Gate – enter only through Jesus.
- The Easy Way – leads to destruction (seeking man’s approval rather than God’s approval.)
- The Hard Way – the path with Jesus is not easy, the New Testament is full of scripture on the importance of suffering for the Christian.
- 15-20: 2 kinds of prophets
- Jesus says He condemns the false prophets though they claim to do miracles in His name. Mighty works are not proof of the Father’s will since those works can come from sources other than God, including demons and human scheming.
- Those who hold to Biblical truth.
- 21-33: 2 kinds of disciples
- True repentance or false repentance
- Oral confession of Jesus as Lord does not indicate a repentant heart.
- True repentance leads to obedience. 2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;(ESV)
- 24-27: 2 foundations
- I must choose whether I build my life on Jesus or on the lies of Satan.
Father, open my heart and mind to truth. It is only in the acceptance of truth that I will know what true love is. Because I want the acceptance of man it is easy to think I am being loving when I am actually hurting those I love.
Father, take all pride from me – I don’t want to get in the way of what You are doing. Pride works in many ways. Direct my steps. Again, I keep seeking acceptance of others, I falter in doing what You have asked me to do because I know it will seem like folly to others.
Last Thursday, because of Joe’s pain level, his therapy was overwhelming. So many instructions, and then changes between therapists. Father, please pour in Your wisdom, giving me clarity to understand my role.
Thank You how my body relaxed this week – despite the added stress. There was little raging to deal with. I confess still waiting for more raging, returning to impact me with an even greater vengeance. I beg for your help.
In midst of thanksgiving, I stopped praying Lord because Joe was struggling with something he couldn’t do.
This morning he confessed, how his brain won’t let him figure this all out; it seems so concrete, but new information every week confuses him.
Father, I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know what my real needs are. I don’t know what Joe’s real needs are, either. You promise in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit will pray for us when we don’t know how to pray. Please Lord, Holy Spirit, pray for those real needs.
Come Jesus, come. Take all my longings, and all my mourning, using it to Your glory. Give me contentment, allowing me to dance in the midst of my mourning and longings.
In Jesus Name. Amen
PostScript from Joe: Wanda asked me to share my present feelings, and where I believe God has me today. Here goes…
I’ve shared with a few brothers-in-Christ how I’m doing, and what I believe God is doing in my life. I don’t believe I’m being any kind of “hero” or extraordinary human. Though I’m still not familiar with MSA, I’m slowly gaining more understanding from what I’ve read on-line. I’m yet to fully experience what it means. I am still able to walk and carry out a stretching regimen.
What’s not “fun” is soreness, some of it stronger than when I prepared to back-pack in the High Sierras. And was I ever in poor shape for that. The good news? I worked myself into great physical shape back then. Hopefully the exercise regimen they have me on now will slow down the atrophy of muscles. I will never again be in “good shape.”
As a follower of Christ, I confess I do not fear death. But I don’t especially look forward to many of the physical and mental realities that will visit me, sometime in an unknown future.
How may I pray for you? Now that I’m retired, I have the time and motivation to promise you my devotion to your needs, lifting them up for God’s healing.
As much as I’d like to meet you, one on one, driving has been eliminated from the things I’ve loved to do. No one’s breathing down my back on this, it’s something I have to accept responsibility for. Should MSA quickly attack my body or mind, the last place I want to be is behind the wheel. Instead, I have a wonderful wife willing to drive me wherever I need to go. Yea, Wanda!
P.S. Joe had a dizzy episode over the weekend. The therapist yesterday said that is a symptom of the MSA. She explained that in MSA blood pressure works atypically; thus it rises when you sit and goes down when you stand up. It also fluctuates quickly with sudden movements.