Jeremiah 15:18-19 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which
refuses to be healed? will you be altogether unto me as a deceitful brook, and
as waters that fail? Therefore thus says the LORD, If you return, then will I
bring you again, and you shall stand before me: and if you take forth the
precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth: let them return unto you; but
return not you unto them.
I didn't think it was possible to hurt any worse than I did when I went to bed last night... until this morning when I woke up. I've been dragging myself around all weekend unpacking between rest breaks. The good thing about unpacking is that you can do it sitting. And, no matter how many breaks you take, you still get a lot accomplished because every box counts. You feel like you've accomplished a great deal if you get 5 boxes emptied.
I am struggling with unpacking, washing, and putting away all the dishes, utensils, and silverware. There just seems to be more than I remembered owning. But, then my husband comes home with another load of boxes, and I see his face and it keeps me going. Funny how love can make your heart do flips even through pain.
I found this passage above while looking for something to chase the pain pills I had with breakfast. Funny how medicine can help your body, but not your emotional ability to deal with the pain. It takes a lot of love, and Scripture for that. And, encouraging words from my son. But, I noticed that Jeremiah was talking about incurable pain. And, God answered him gently and gracously, despite his fraility and apparent doubt. But, I was wondering at the purpose for all this pain, thinking there has to be a purpose, though I couldn't imagine what it might be at the moment. The words in the verse, "take forth the precious from the vile" jumped out at me. Yes, pain is a vile thing, and leaves physical and emotional scars.
I just looked at the technician in silence recently when she was warning me before she inserted the steroid infusion IV that it would give me stretch marks, and make the ones I had more pronounced. I was thinking, "and...what's your point? She apparantly had no idea about all the scars. What's a few stretch marks matter now? Perspective changes everything. I knew ladies at the gym with hard, tight, perfect bodies, or so it seemed in to me, even in the dressing room. But, candid discussions, revealed that the purpose of multiple tattoos was often to hide stretch marks on their perfect bodies. I couldn't believe this. Even beautiful women found imperfections on their bodies. We can never be satisfied can we?
So, I am stretching this out too long. But, writing helps me focus. I realized again in the verse that I find there is much that is precious that I can salvage from the midst of all my pain. I am familiar with loss. I often felt like I had reached for so many of the stars, and watched many of them slip through my fingers. When I opened my hands and saw what remained clutched inside, I told my boys they were the remaining stars...the best remains with us. All that matters remains with us.
I find within my pain that my Soul is synthesized and made whole. When I was younger, I felt so fragmented. That changed in the last decade and a half through prayer and following God through His Word. But, the last two years of disability and pain has been like cement, setting and hardening all that I have become in God, into a solid thing. I found myself in the middle of a row of stumblingblocks at one point, in Spiritual pain. I knew I was sliding into the abyss, but I held on and waited for God to save me, instead of giving in and letting go of God. Sometimes, that is all we can do, hold on.
Sorry I've been AWOL. I guess it's some kind of crash from the infusion. I felt like my old normal psycho self, energetic and all for the three days I was on the thousand m's of solumedrol daily. But, the last dose was Sunday evening. I hate the syringes of sodium before and after each IV bag the most, because they burn. The other syringe doesn't burn, its just for bloodclotting or something, and the IV itself is painless if it is not too cold. But, the IV was removed yesterday evening.
And, I haven't been able to move since I got home last night after a flattire on the interstate which a HERO DOT truck arrived to fix before the roadside assistance crew's ETA. I was already zoned out enough that I thought it was the roadside assistance fixing my car. They just jumped in. It was after the call from the garage which I couldn't hear from the trraffic whizzing past on I75 in downtown, that I looked back and saw the HERO word on the truck.
It seems like my body is making up for all the sleep I lost while on the steriods. I thought it would last longer than this. And, I've felt lke I have a volcano in my stomach...like the solumedrol burned a volcano in my stomach. Now, I'm sipping cold milk, unable to eat. And, my neck hurts really bad. I've got to feel well enough for the drive to ATL in the morning for next specialist visit, and that's what I'm concerned about now. I feel so lethargic my hands are all that's moving on the keyboard. I need prayer that I will be able to walk and drive by morning. But, the good news is the exploding headache is mysteriously let up with the IV.
Genesis 2:8-15 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden;
and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD
God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the
tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it
was parted, and became four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it
which encompasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold
of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the
second river is Gihon: the same is it that encompasses the whole land of Cush.
And the name of the third river is Tigris: that is it which goes toward the east
of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man,
and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and to keep it.
Why am I reading this passage? Why wouldn't I? Here you have a beautiful garden, with four rivers. There is a land of gold, and a tree of life yet to come. It;s a nice picture to hold on to during times of pain. It reminds me that even paradise will be restored. Good night. I feel another "power nap" coming. Lol.
Weary. Too tired after 3 days out of the house in a row to function on my laptop even. I have 3 more days of appointments next week, two at specialists, and one for IV removal at the Infectious Disease Center. I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis Thursday, a neurological disorder that damages nerve cell fibers in the center of the spinal cord. This damage causes nervous system scars that interrupt communications between the nerves in the spinal cord and the rest of the body, and is what causes the paralysis and limb weakness. I was given my first IV Infusion of Steroids today at the CDC. The IV needle and cord stays in my arm, and I give myself the other infusions in this round once a day through Monday.
My doctor is using this as one of the treatments for the symptoms. There is no cure, but the good news is, that means I won't need a surgery for it. There is a 33% chance it could go away completely with time, in the first three months if diagnosed early. I've had the symptoms for much longer than that. Another third of the cases never go away at all and can end up worse. The last third show some improvement but lingering symptoms. So, prayer is the best course of action, as usual. The good news is, the bladder and other nerve damage problems I'm being treated for are symptoms of the larger Myelitis, and could disappear as well, if the Myelitis heals itself.
I'm just relieved that the infusions don't require me to give myself shots, which is what I thought I was going to have to do today. I thought it would be a daily shot, but it's an hour long infusion once a day that I can just hook up to the IV and doesn't require me to stick myself. That's great! I'll pass on the cycling jokes, but the doctor said it wouldn't have me riding my bike yet. Darn! It worked for Floyd. (And, I said I was going to pass on the cycling jokes.) Laughter is like medicine.
Well, my bike is still beautiful. And, it rides like the wind, theoretically and historically, just not at the moment. And, God is still God, even centuries from now when my bike and I are both dust. I read today that athiesm as a belief dates back potentially to about 1500 to 500 BC, to the time of the Vedic Period in India, as far as recorded history goes. That's roughly from between 2 and a half centuries to 3 and a half after God set the planets in the heavens and created mankind with a front row seat. So soon we forget God. That is such a sad thing to think about, God crying throughout the Old Testament, "You don't even know who I am," as in Isaiah 45:4. 5
If I never ride a bike again, I know the voice of God, something I have heard people complain of before, that they couldn't hear God. I think that is what I value most in this life, that connection with the Holy Spirit. I can't tell you why God cares to speak to me or you. Deuteronomy 30:14 But, I can tell you why I care to listen. His words are life. And, life is precious in any form because it issues from the Spirit of God...God breathed! Psalms 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
Disapointment is sometimes subtle and not always negative. Take the following photo for example.
It was a tough road run, in Dalton, Georgia. I grew up in Dalton, but left town as fast as I could on a Greyhound bus headed for Brunswick in South Georgia when I was seventeen, just after High School. Nothing runs like a Greyhound :) So, when my son and I ran this race at the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic in Dalton, we ran past my childhood home, and my first school. The hills in Dalton are brutal, but it felt great running past the playground where the coach used to lead the kids in mocking me for my lack of athletic ability, as if I didn't understand sarcasm simply because I couldn't run.
As I passed through the finish chute in the photo above, I was wondering where Travis would be in the crowd of spectators, assuming he had finished before me, since he left me in his dust at the start line. I found him after he crossed the finish line with later runners. He said he saw me charge past him at the bottom of the first uphill turn and never saw me again.
My Mom went with us and had the camera, and the job of snapping a shot of us crossing the finish line. She was slow, and this is what she got, just my feet. I was disappointed, but soon realized that was the most important part. I can say with certainty that at least half of me finished that race. My poor feet were tired. They did the most work. My lungs had been trained to regulate my breathing, but my legs were not prepared for the hillwork. I felt like stopping so many times, but couldn't let myself down. I needed to finish that run. I needed to exorcise a few ghosts of races past. The voice of that coach from primary school spoke to me across four decades.
Sometimes now I feel like stopping in the middle of this "Run for My Life" I am embroiled in at the moment, with doctors and hospitals. I catch myself saying things like, "I'm stopping right here...I've had enough of this. No more surgeries regardless of the result." I find myself thinking the doctors just can't fix this. But, then my friend Diane tells me, "You are in the middle of the lake Vicky. If you get out of the boat now, you will drown. You've got to cross to the other side, because you've reached the point of no return." And, my Mom calls and informs me that believing the doctors can fix the damage is having faith in God because God can use a physician as well as he can anything else. If a neurologist can change the course of my health, it is because God is working through Him.
Wow! That's encouragement! Then, every email in my inbox from the local bike club, talking about the century rides, the post ride gettogethers, and the local club rides; they wrap cords around my soul and drag me unmercifully to the next doctor's appointment. They unconscously render me unable to give up. Disappointment is not always a negative thing you see?! Disappointment is the fuel that keeps you going, that lights the spark in your faith. If you have no faith, maybe you are satisfied with the way things are right now. If you do believe, perhaps it is because disappointment pushed you off the cliff, made you take that leap of faith. Hebrews 11:29 It is with faith that God's people pass through trials, like through an ocean on dry ground.
I was teaching 5th Grade Language Arts until the last four days before I went back out of work on disability. My job entailed teaching Grammar and Writing. Before the first of five surgeries, I hosted Writing Contests every couple of months to encourage students to produce better quality essays and stories. The prizes I gave averaged out to a cost of between $75.00 and $125.00 total outlay per contest on my part. But, I felt like the children would gain the pride of being paid for their Writing. I wanted them to feel like their writing was valued. So, it was definitely worth the expense. And, I got some extremely good stories from children who had performed poorly in the past. I'm not bragging, mind you. It would be bragging if I said it was appreciated. That doesn't appear to be the case now, though it did seem that way at the time. Favor is deceitful and comes and goes like the tides. Proverbs 31:30
But, the first place paper from one such contest I hosted on the topic of disability has been on my mind for the last few weeks, because I now find myself in a disability situation...ironically. We have a schoolbased network system of folders where we are able to upload everything we design, powerpoints, documents, pictures, etc online to be used and accessed from anywhere: at work, at home, whatever. This was a great thing when I first began work there, because it takes away the need to carry around cd roms and/or thumb drives. But, after being out of work for much of the last two years, the system has updated a few times, and the interface is not funtioning the same as before. Though I can still get in, it doesn't seem to allow me to download anything to my computer from my folders online.
But, now with so many places online available to store data, I was able to copy mass quantities of data to a third party site today as a middleman site for about thirty minutes, and then download them from there to my computer here at home, before deleting them from the third party site. Nice!
So, I found the winning disability essay. And, I cried reading it all over again. I had loved it when I first received it. The little girl had shown such sensitivity to the idea of the possibility of herself having a handicapped Mom. She had expressed so much acceptance and love for her Mom, even if she were to be in a wheelchair totally paralyzed; unable to say "I love you," anymore. The idea in my mind when I assigned the topic had been human worth, what is it about a person that makes them loved? Is love neccessarily performance based. Ironically, I found my answers for myself.
Now, looking back, and reading these words of love and acceptance that I think I paid an mp3 player for; I feel like I got an extremely high return. As I've always said, children are my reversed heritage. I invested myself heavily in my students for 30 years. The dividends are just starting to come in now.
“Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my arrows of desire;
Bring me my spear; O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire!”
William Blake wrote these stirring words. I don’t know what to think of the Apocrypha or its claims that Jesus toured England as a young man. Theologians through the ages did not accept the Apocryphial books as inspired, therefore they are not included in our Biblical canon.
Regardless of whether or not Jesus ever walked on England’s soil in flesh, His Spirit walks the hills even of North Georgia, and I think that was certainly Blake’s intent with the poem, which was made into the Anthem Jerusalem, and in turn featured on the later movie Chariot’s of Fire. The movie is a story of two runners and their faith in God, and their pursuit of excellence.
John referred to heaven as the “New Jerusalem” in the glory of his penultimate vision. Blake’s words approach the beauty of John’s, even if they aren’t divinely inspired. The New Jerusalem is being built in the hearts and minds of God’s children here in the spirit world, by the approach of Jesus’ Kingdom. And, He’s not hitting the brakes yet.
I certainly can see my God driving a Chariot of Fire! :) Psalm 68:17 This passage in Psalms can give you the idea that God drives chariots. The chariot metaphor in the anthem is definitely an allusion to the rapture of Elijah. And, obviously if God wasn’t in the driver’s seat of that Chariot, it definitely came from His Angelic Fleet, and He certainly sent the whirlwind that snatched up Elijah! 2 Kings 2:11
God can and does choose to reveal Himself gloriously to the eyes of man, and He most certainly can and will use miraculous intervention to perform His divine will. But, it’s a given that more of God’s will is carried out by these feet of clay God calls "Adam" than through miracles.
Think about it…God wants most to use me and you as His chariots of fire. We all have our limits and failings, but what do you think brings God the most glory, driving Golden Chariots or using our limited flesh to move His Spirit? We are the body of Christ, we are His hands and feet, and (if the angels are his chariots) we can be His chariots as well.
Oh, but don’t you find yourself consumed with His fire? Like Jeremiah cried after a night in jail for merely speaking the truth, it’s like fire in my bones. Jeremiah 20:9 Here is a larger part of Blake’s epic poem titled Milton: A Poem (1804.) The tune Jerusalem is now playing and the video is a segment of Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee known as “the blade runner.” He reminds me of the dichotomy of God running on feet of clay...we chariots of fire. Oscar embodies the spirit of a Chariot of Fire. He houses fire in his soul that will only be satisfied by running. May I yet be more contemptible than this before the Lord. 2 Kings 6:17
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.
God is the God of the Universe. He has made all things. He orders the laws of physics, mathematics, and all that we know is eclipsed by the surplus of His knowledge of this created world that we yet do not know. Some things in
Scripture stand out more readily than others. Some stories capture the attention of the casual reader, like dear sweet Jochebed and brave, heroic David. It's easy to see why children can become enchanted with the stories of the Bible. But, there is so much more in the Bible that remains unnoticed by casual reading. Bible reading becomes almost intoxicating when you dig deeper. It seems like the more you know, the more you have to dig to get a better taste. Like the harder drugs or alcohol bring a greater sense of euphoria. Or, so I've been told, as I have never experimented with even gateway drugs. So, just ignore any idotic thing I may inadvertantly say about drug usage, seeing that I am not well versed on that subject, and didn't really listen in Health class.
In the book of Numbers is an exciting story of redemption and desire, possession, and purchase. So, you think I'm lying now? The title is very misleading. Actually it is probably the most boring meaningless title for a book isn't it? Let me show you the real story. God gave birth to the nation of Israel in Genesis, the book of beginnings.
In Exodus, the child Israel grew in bondage, like Joseph. God delivered His children from bondage in a mighty act of deliverance that took a series of plagues against Egypt to effect. The last of those plagues was the death of the
firstborn of all Egypt. Now, this would have convinced the hardest hearts to listen to Moses, to lose your firstborn child. But, those who were under the blood were saved. From that day of God's deliverance from bondage, God declared to Moses that all the firstborn of Israel would belong to Him, seeing that He had saved their lives from the plague of death.
You've heard stories where a person saved another person's life, and the saved man felt he owed his life of service to the man who saved him. That is exactly the case with Christians, and with the firstborn Israelites. But, the day comes, after the Israelites are in the wilderness and ready to move towards possession of the promised land, when God organizes the little band of men into a nation. Moses takes a census of the men of war above the age of 20 in Numbers 1, but doesn't count the Levites. God says the Levites will now be His to use as priests, instead of the firstborn of every family. Numbers 3:12,13.
Of course, God knows how to make a trade. He also keeps count of what belongs to Him. The firstborn were already his. He ordered Moses to count the firstborn, and a total of 22,273 is reported. Then God orders a count of the Levites, every male above one month of age. That's interesting. God only counted the men of war above the age of 20. But, when He was counting His own of the Levites, He counted even the babies. We all belong to God regardless of age.
But, back to the counting. I was totaling the numbers in the margin of my Bible as I read, when I first read this story several years ago. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Gershon's family numbered 7,500. Kohath's family was counted at 8,600, and Merari's family totaled 6,200 males. I totaled that to get 22,300. When I finished reading the counting...after I had already added... Numbers 3:39 gave the total as 22,000.
Notice that that number is different from the number of the total of the individual families. This could be due to several factors. I call the number recorded in verse 39, the "Total accepted Levitical count" because that was the
number accepted and recorded by Moses, Aaron, and God. The other 300 were not accepted in the number for some reason. It could be perhaps, that the firstborn Levites were excluded so that they would not be counted twice. Or those 300 may have been on "disability" for some reason or other. We know that God said the Levites with a handicap were not to be put to work in the temple, but were to be fed...God's disability plan for priests...they can eat without working. Leviticus 21:22. Regardless, they were not part of the accepted count.
Look back at the total number of the firstborn, 22,273. Without the 300 that were not accepted, God will be losing a total of 273 souls in the trade. They want to do the right thing by the God of the Universe when they calculate their gift. So, God tells Moses to set the redemption price at 5 shekels apiece for the 273 firstborn that are not replaced by acceptable Levites. This totals 1,365 shekels to be paid to God's treasury by the Israelites. Now, God has a tabernacle, priests, and a treasury.
It is noteworthy that 5 shekels, the redemption gift of a firstborn child, was a small amount, and was
equal to the amount that Joseph was sold into slavery for by his brothers in Genesis. And, Scientists calculate the worth of all our basic elements in any given human body to be about $4.70. So, don't think God is devaluing us. He is giving us a higher market value at the value of five silver dollars today. So, go ahead and sell out to God, since the world won't give you what Jesus did on the cross.
The part that grabbed my heart was the fact that God desired ownership of the Levites, and he didn't want them counted along with the rest of the Israelites, because they were his. Possessed, owned by God Almighty. But, he did not forget that these firstborn were His. These things were done as a type of Redemption at the cross.
Today, God has purchased and redeemed us off the slave market of sin. We belong to the God of the Universe. He paid a price for us in blood. He knows who is His. He counts us everyone. He talks about this ownership throughout Scripture. And, in the end, He will take us to Himself. Revelation 21:3.
We are instructed to care for the possession of God, which he purchased with his blood. Acts 20:28. Don't think you are not an overseer. Regardless of your position in church, somebody is watching you. Remember when we have baby dedications in church, the church is pledging to be an example in front of the child of a Christian, and not become a stumbling block before him as he is raised before God. Just like the parents are responsible for his upbringing, so are the fellow church members responsible for the example of Christianity that they show this child.
I think it is remarkable the way God seems to be jealous of His own people. Exodus 34:14. Romans 14:8. When one is lost, God will not rest seeking him. Luke 15;7.