What’s Been Happening Since



Last October, a friend of mine died of cancer. In early December, another friend’s husband died from a rather rare lung disease. Just this month, the wife of a former colleague and of two former students passed away as a result of brain cancer.

The reality of life is that we die.

Except I didn’t. Not yet.

I could have died and many people do die as a result of a stroke and/or a heart attack.

Nothing I did separated me from my friends that have gone on ahead of me into heaven. I’m alive today by God’s mercy and grace. My time is in His hands, and the end of my days in the here and now simply hasn’t arrived yet.

I say all this because I want it to be clear that I didn’t survive because I have some magic bullet or pipeline to God. I survived because He wanted me to. I could have just as easily succumbed to my physical ailments as survive. But in response to my call for help, in response to the prayers of His children, and in the perfect working of His sovereign will, I survived.

But I didn’t just survive. I’m recovering from the stroke. It’s not like getting over the flu, but there’s no doubt I’m stronger every day.

I’ve had such tremendous support, not the least of which are the prayers of many. Some of the people who have given me help, I know either in person, or on-line, or from some time in the past. Some, I’ve never met! Imagine that! I tend to think that’s a work of the family of Christ, caring for a sister in need.

So this past month, I’ve been surrounded by people who have prayed faithfully, and have done the work of providing for what I need.

I live on my own in an upstairs apartment. So right after I was discharged from the hospital, friends invited me to stay with them over the weekend to re-hab a bit as a transition. When I came home, they sent me with enough food for that first week. Then a group of former students who had organized to take care of my grocery needs, stepped forward. They have taken turns to bring me what I’ve needed each week.

A writer friend headed up a Go Fund Me page to help provide for my needs while I’m not working. Another couple friends have given me rides to the doctor or pharmacy. A neighbor has taken out my trash, done my laundry, vacuumed my living room. Another friend changed light bulbs. And people have called, sent cards, texted, offered help. Others have provided monetarily through other means.

Friends have stepped up and covered for commitments I couldn’t keep. And above all, people have prayed. I can’t emphasize this enough. God wants to involve His people in His work, whether through our prayers, giving, or doing. He uses those who are available to Him.

I am blessed. And also mindful that God has more He wants me to do.

So I’m in the process of recovery, adding daily to my endurance and to what I can do on my own. It’s not easy. My head says I’m ready to do it all, but my body isn’t quite there yet. Close. And progressing. But the things I can do still take longer than I want, and I’m not able to do all I think I should be doing.

But a number of good counselors have reminded me to take my recovery one day at a time, and not try to get everything back all at once. My head says, “Go for it,” my heart says, “You can do it,” my body says, “Hold on, that’s enough.” So my physical therapist said, I need to listen to my body.

Knowing how much to push and how much to “listen to my body” is now the trick. But by God’s grace, I’m better today than I was yesterday. May His name be praised.

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Published in: on May 31, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Comments (16)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The Strange Man, Day 2


Some things can't be ignored

It just won’t do.

Try as we might, there’s no way to miss the elephant, so we might as well give him prime time.

Rather than discussing genre as I hinted at in my Day 1 post about Greg Mitchell’s The Strange Man, I want to look at a bit of theology — the slam-dunking elephant tromping across the pages.

The story hinges on the main character (always a good thing for a novel). Here’s what Jason Joyner has to say about the protagonist (who, for those of you unfamiliar with the book, is NOT the strange man):

Dras Weldon is your typical adult adolescent, not willing to grow up and out of his world of comic books, action figures, and B horror movies. The fact that his childhood best friend Rosalyn is looking to actually move on from Greensboro isn’t helping. He is tired of hearing criticism from his older brother, the pastor, as well.

When The Strange Man decides the time is ripe for Greensboro’s harvest, Dras is an unlikely combatant. He doesn’t have anything to fight with, unless he can reconnect with his withered faith in time.

Let me elaborate a little. Dras is a hard-drinking, disrespectful, user. Not of drugs. Of people. Rosalyn is his best friend, and he’s even in love with her, though he won’t admit it. But night after night she puts up with his drunken stupors, seeing him safely home no matter what condition he’s in.

And his family? His father is dying, but Dras can’t remember to be at family dinners. His mom is so programed by his past behavior that when he drops by she automatically reaches for her purse, thinking he’s come to ask for more money. His brother is convinced of the same thing.

And yet, Dras considers himself a Christian. After all, he prayed a prayer at camp one year when he was nine.

Never mind that he admits all he knows about the Bible is that the first book is Genesis and he thinks the last one is Revelation. Never mind that he has no interest in spiritual things, demonstrated by the fact that he only goes to church to appease his family — and then arrives late, with a hangover, and nods off periodically.

Trust me when I tell you, in spite of all this, author Greg Mitchell admirably makes Dras a sympathetic character. Consequently, the reader is hoping for change and cheering Dras on when he confronts, not only his own demons, but those of the entire town.

But back to the theology. The strange man, a demon set on devouring the shriveling community of Greensboro, sees Dras as standing in his way. But apparently God has marked the boy, and the strange man can’t take him out directly.

So apparently Dras thinks he’s a Christian and God thinks he’s a Christian (maybe), but everyone else in town believes he’s a messed up screw-up capable of doing anything.

Dras himself says his life was the single most influential thing in keeping Rosalyn from coming to God.

So there’s the question. Is it really possible for a person to be a Christian, yet have no evidence of Christ in his life?

I’ll be honest. I’ve heard about people who supposedly believe you can pray a “sinner’s prayer” and then live however you want without fear of eternal judgment, but I’ve never met anyone like that (at least that I know of).

The people I know who prayed to ask Christ into their lives either walk away and don’t claim to be Christians any more, or they struggle at different levels to understand what being in God’s family means on a practical level. This “I’m a Christian but no one would guess it” is new to me.

What’s more, I’m pretty convinced it’s not Biblical.

Mind you, I’m aware that Christians still sin (though there is a segment of professing Christians who claim they don’t — very Job-like in their insistence that they do no wrong). What I’m wondering is this: will a Christian show no interest in God?

After all, Christians pretty much agree that our faith is about relationship — ours with God, which makes us then care about the other people in our lives. So if a person doesn’t read Scripture, pray, listen for God’s voice in the preaching of the Word, if he only treats people in his life with selfishness or anger or disrespect, how is it possible for him to be a Christian?

If it were true that a person has become a new creature in Christ, ought there not be some small bit of evidence?

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