Archive for July, 2018

“Life is a Journey…. Destination Unknown”

July 29, 2018

IMG-20180402-WA0005

These words, in block capitals and emblazoned on a man’s t-shirt, hit me between the eyes as I emerged from revolving hospital doors into the bright sunshine. People in dressing gowns puffed desperately on cigarette butts as they leaned wearily against poles on my route to the car park. A man sitting on a wheelchair with amputated legs stared through me, his eyes empty and sorrowful, as if this life had left him in a state of permanent shock, which perhaps indeed it had….

Earlier inside, a lady with a tumour on the side of her head sat waiting for the countdown… soon her number would be called to have a blood test. Tired pale patients sat on endless rows of chairs, staring at the floor or reading newspapers, or with their eyes glued to their iPhones; such is everyday life in a public hospital in Ireland. I had seen many come out of consultant’s rooms, tears filling their eyes. In other parts of the hospital revealing scans were taking place, suffering bodies lay in pain and sometimes a priest could be seen hurrying along down a corridor….

As I started up the car, I whispered… “Why, why do I find myself in this terrible place?” This place where the police are called to frequently, especially to the A & E Department, when someone addicted to something loses their cool. Hospitals are not pleasant places – but this one less so than most.

Then I feel regret for having such a thought as this and I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for all He has done for me and for loved ones.

I thank Him for the health and strength that He has given me, despite the fact that I am “not getting any younger” as the saying goes. I thank Him that He left the realms of glory to come down to this suffering sinful world. I thank Him for His love for all and how He wants nothing more than that ill, burdened and heartbroken souls repent, trust and rest in Him for all their tomorrows.

Life is a Journey… but the destination is not unknown for those who give their lives to Him and put their trust in Him for whatever life brings their way. I drive home from the polluted city to my humble home in the lovely countryside where our sleeping cats purr happily beside bright flowers in the garden and the wind blows softly through the leafy trees. Thank you Lord for leaving your Home, your beautiful and glorious Home in glory to come to such a world as this – and not only to come, but to die for all that they might find that peace that passes all understanding – that peace and tranquillity that transcends life’s darkest moments, in the knowledge that someday they might live in that beautiful Home with You, free from the sorrow and pain of this life.

If life was smooth, carefree and I never had to look on, or experience, suffering, I would be of little use in this old world.  As I gaze at the flowers, the second verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” comes to mind as I think on these things…

“Must I be carried to the skies

On flow’ry beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Yes Lord, if you have a purpose in my visits to places of suffering and if you want me to speak to some soul or souls, I will go in Thy strength. Thank you Lord for contacts already made and someone still in contact.

And thank you, Lord, for the heritage of beautiful hymns left to us by souls who walked closely with you down through the centuries. One such soul was Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who gave his heart to the Lord at the tender age of fifteen. This forerunner of English hymn-writers left a truly wonderful legacy of over six hundred hymns, many of which still encourage heavy hearts today… “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?; Jesus shall reign, wher’er the sun; Not all the Blood of Beasts on Jewish Altars Slain; Our God, our help in ages past…” I quote the last verse and the chorus of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” which speaks to my heart at this time in my life…

 

“Since I must fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain

Supported by Thy Word.

 

In the Name, the precious Name

Of Him who died for me,

Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,

Whate’er my cross may be.”

 

Advertisements

Some Trust in Chariots, and Some in Horses…

July 11, 2018

DB294CAC-377D-4B2A-B89A-B8B2BF96DEF0

On a recent visit to the historical site at Oldbridge of the Battle of the Boyne (July 1690), I was thinking very much about the spiritual analogy of a distressing situation we find ourselves in at the present time. When the Christian or one of his loved ones is faced with a serious health diagnosis, they will naturally get in touch with as many people as possible to pray about this situation. Very often, however, we find that in reality the people we feel that we can trust to pray for us are relatively few in number.

I am a slow learner but the Lord is teaching me much about human nature as I go through the deeply disturbing traumas that life can bring. Here are a couple of the reactions I’ve encountered as I’ve asked people to pray for a number of situations (not just the current one) over the years…

“Oh well, you’ve got to die sometime, haven’t you?”

“Oh dear… imagine that now. I wonder why God gave this person this disease…” (There must have been sin in his life).

“I’ll pray… but if it’s God’s will for them to go, you’ll just have to accept that.” (This person proceeded to make it clear that they were in a big hurry and had to go right at that moment. I smiled about this later and I understood that they were under pressure but really felt that their words could have been a little more sensitive…)

Indeed I am fully prepared to accept God’s will in any matter, for I know that He will carry me through all sorts of situations before someday I go to be with Him. However, if anyone approaches us with a request for prayer on something that is troubling them deeply, first of all we should leave this person in no doubt that we love them and really care about them and will pray sincerely about every aspect of whatever has been troubling them.

Unfortunately, even amongst professing Christians there are the “Job’s comforters.” I have found that those who have the greatest compassion of all are very often souls who have suffered much in their own lives. They listen, they are quiet, they are kind – and they care. And you know that they will pray fervently for you because they have matured in the Lord and they walk closely with Him.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Corinthians 1v3&4)

Ultimately it is to Him, that His followers must turn in their distress. We pray for surgeons to have skill and for doctors and oncologists to have the knowledge and expertise to use the best and most appropriate treatments but we do not put our trust in them – or indeed in medicine. We follow along with prescribed treatments as the Lord leads but we can never, never put our trust in men. Yes, we can ask understanding souls who walk closely with the Lord for prayer but above all He must be our primary source of comfort and counsel in all our tribulation, in the knowledge that all good things come from Him.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. Save, Lord: let the King hear us when we call.” (Psalm 20v7-9)