Signs of Healing

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Crossword puzzles have become a part of my bedtime routine most evenings. I find that they engage my brain just enough to help me tone down all the other thoughts that clamor for attention throughout the day. A few nights ago, though, the very first crossword clue started me thinking about perspective.

The clue for 1 across was “Signs of healing.” The answer was five letters long. Since I had no idea what it might be, I took a look at 1 down. One down was easy and started with an “s.” So: signs of healing, five letters, starting with an S. Have you got it? I didn’t either. The answer turned out to be scars.

What? Scars? I’ve always thought of scars as a sign of injury, not of healing. I have scars on my belly now, three of them, serving as daily reminders that errant cells within my body demanded surgery. But signs of healing? Well, come to think of it, my body has healed. No bleeding or infection runs along those three little lines. And the small bald spot on my husband’s temple where a childhood fall required stitches? It poses no threat and causes no pain. It too has healed. So has the place on my father’s back where melanoma was removed half a century ago.

Perspective is a powerful thing. We all have scars, some of them physical, some emotional. We might look at them and think, “Why did I have to suffer such an injury?” But even if the scar itches or aches now and then, it is no longer a wound. We can choose to let those same scars remind us that, praise God, we have healed. In that choice, much of life changes.

Do we really trust God to carry us through all hardships? Our loving Lord heals our wounds and uses our troubles (often in ways we would not choose and may not understand.) If we can remember his intervention in our lives, then once we bear scars, they are indeed signs of healing.

 

Careless

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I learned to care less about what didn’t matter. (I hope that lesson sticks!) My list of things that matter is much shorter than it used to be. Past decisions, other people’s choices or opinions, plans that don’t affect me, social intricacies, small inconveniences… This doesn’t mean I care less about others around me, but rather that I am careful to conserve my mental and emotional energy for that which I can affect. My feathers don’t ruffle quite as easily as they once did. Computer problems? They look pretty small now. Traffic? Unexpected chores or needed repairs around the house? They aren’t so irritating any more. My “Type A” has slipped, and nicely so.

At times peace and worry warred within me, but peace won out every time. More than one friend commented that she could hear the peace in my voice. I could neither explain nor take credit for that. I began to journal all the “small” miracles that were sprinkled into my days.

  • A good friend, a nurse with very particular views about local medical options, raved about the doctor who would be doing my surgery, as well as the oncologist who would be assisting.
  • The depth and breadth of care and prayer astonished me. Friends and family near and far encouraged me with gifts, cards, texts, and promises of consistent prayer.
  • Just one hour of shopping and $50 yielded four simple dresses I would need after surgery when my body swelled.
  • More than one “chance encounter” led to times of prayer with someone who cared.
  • I was hit with an intense bout of the flu just two weeks before my surgery. How could that be a blessing? It allowed me to see the gaps in my recovery plan. I learned what to buy and how to prepare for several days of limited mobility.

Then the day of surgery came. It was successful. I had very little pain throughout the entire process, astonishing all my caretakers. Many of the post-surgical discomforts I had been warned to expect simply never materialized. No complications arose. No further treatment was prescribed. I am well, and I am changed.

  • I am living more deliberately. I’m more aware of the blessing of tasty food, a soft pillow, a hug from my husband, time to rest and recover…
  • I am expecting less of myself and of those around me.
  • I asked myself why I wanted to be healthy—to keep living—and I’m acting on my answers.

I don’t take my healing as the promise of an easy future. On any day, life can turn in either direction. The gift of getting to stay alive will not be without its moments of pain. And so, joy can only come from trust every single day. Circumstances, no matter what they are, just don’t cut it. Life changed in a moment last July. That may happen again. I have no promise of a similar outcome. I do have the promise of similar peace. So do you:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Next Week: Care More

Shoelaces

childrens-shoes-687958_640By Beth Smith

I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “If God is your co-pilot, you’re sitting in the wrong seat.” There’s a lot of truth to that, don’t you think? Still, we like control, don’t we? We each want to be the master of our own fate.

Control! When someone comes up with an idea, we often say, “Well, that’s okay, but have you considered …?” When my spouse asks me to do something, I almost always think of a reason not to do it the way he suggests. This type of attitude makes surrendering our lives to God difficult too.

Do you know when we tend to give up our control? When we have needs we cannot meet. When our problems or circumstances require more than our own human ability to resolve them. That’s when God teaches us dependence on him. And that’s a glorious, wonderful thing. Needs are the stuff from which miracles are made. When our needs meet with faith in God and commitment to him, the way is open for God to work. Of course, before we are able to surrender to him, we need to believe what he says is true and that he has the power to accomplish what he promises.

There’s an account of the result of disbelief in the Old Testament (Numbers 14). Having been miraculously brought out of Egypt, the Israelites were led by Moses to the border of Canaan, the land God had promised to them. God told Moses to send in twelve spies to look at the country and to size up the situation. When the twelve returned, all of them praised the country, saying that it was a land flowing with milk and honey. “But,” they reported, “the people of the land are huge and their cities are well fortified.”

Ten of the spies said, “We can’t conquer these people. They’re like giants. We’re like grasshoppers compared to them.” Two of the twelve, Joshua and Caleb, held a different opinion. Caleb said, “Let’s take the land. We’re well able to conquer it because the Lord is with us. Fear not!”

Caleb and Joshua saw the situation differently because they believed God was in control. They remembered God’s promise to give them Canaan. Sadly, though, the Israelites chickened out. They didn’t go into Canaan, so God allowed them to wander around in the desert for forty years until a whole new generation was born and reached adulthood. Of the original group brought out of Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua entered the Promised Land. That speaks volumes to us about believing what God says.

  • When we lean on our own power, thinking we are in control, what blessings we forfeit! We are limited by our own problems and our circumstances.
  • On the other hand, when we surrender to God, when we allow him to be in control, he uses our circumstances for good, to draw us closer to him.

My husband, Bert, had the most deadly type of melanoma removed from his back in 1965. It was a “get your affairs in order” diagnosis, and the doctor’s only comfort to me was that Bert would not suffer long. Death would come quickly. Fortunately, we had become Christians about a year before and belonged to a group of dedicated believers who prayed for and with us. One day, a dear elderly lady said, “Beth, as you pray for Bert, you’re praying like a child who wants her father to tie her shoes for her but won’t let go of the laces. You really must let go and let God be in control.”

When I did surrender Bert and the whole situation to God, I cannot describe the peace that came. What a blessing to release my husband to a loving, heavenly Father, trusting him no matter what the outcome! Fifty years later, Bert is still with me. But, you need to know, had Bert died, once I surrendered control I knew that a different outcome would have been all right too. God’s promise is that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

We can let our loving, good Father have control. He is worthy of our trust. What shoelaces are we gripping today? Give them up. Let go. Believe God.