Wow! I just took a look at my website to see what needs updating and realized that, yeah, I haven’t written in a l-o-o-o-ng time. I have to be honest; it’s not because I didn’t want to write. There is a LOT to write about. I wish I could say I’ve just been too busy. But that’s not true either. The reason is simply every time I sit and look at the blank page before me, my mind joins the page and goes blank!
I keep promising you that I will write more often, and I know that frequently connecting with you is important on so many levels. First and foremost, because you are my friends and family from afar. But more importantly, the times we live in are precarious – how can I hoard the encouragement I have received? Many of you have equally encouraged me via private emails, so before I TRY to catch up, I just want to know how much I appreciate your prayers and encouragement. Most of all, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and respond. It means more to me than you will ever know.
I’ve been struggling with several different issues. As I’ve shared in previous posts, they have all conspired to remind me that aging is a part of life that even I will not escape. I’ve received a date for my knee replacement surgery – November 9. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I am hopeful that it will help improve my mobility. I could have had the surgery sooner, but I needed time to wrap my mind around it and to try to be as prepared as possible.
Who else has heard about paraffin?
I wonder if I am the only one here who sometimes thinks her doctor is crazy, only to find out he was spot on. In my case, I had complained to my doctor about pain in my right wrist. (Seems my osteoarthritis is not only in my knees!). My family doctor is a very nice man, slightly younger than me, and originally from Russia. However, all his studies were in Israel. So when he looked at my wrist and said, “Paraffin.” I wasn’t sure if he was suggesting a home remedy or something real.
“Huh,” I responded, with an eyebrow raised.
He nodded and smiled. “It’s easier to do it yourself at home than waste time for them to do that same thing in physical therapy.”
His answer to my question as to where to buy paraffin was not reassuring, “I think you can find some at a bicycle shop.”
Appointment ended, I left wondering if I’d actually found a nice quack for a family physician instead of someone serious. However, I reminded myself that I’d really prayed about which new doctor to choose (my old one had left), and I really didn’t want to go doctor hunting again… still…
A few days later, at my congregation, I was talking with a couple of friends, one of whom is a geriatric specialist. I said in passing, I think I have a quack for a doctor – “he wants me to get paraffin for my hand.”
My friend looked at me knowingly and said, “Ask Esther (another woman) about it. She soaks her hand in paraffin, and it helps tremendously,” as she smiled and then turned to join her husband, who had called her away.
Long story short, Esther showed me her special paraffin bath for the hands, and I actually found one in Israel, with paraffin refills. I’ve only used it a couple of times, but it does feel good, and I feel foolish.
Speaking of feeling foolish…
But doesn’t that ring a bell? I know as I write this, I can think of so many times when I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me about something, and I didn’t listen. Afterward, I felt so foolish… why hadn’t I listened? Other times I did listen, and all I can do is give thanks to Him – thank you, thank you, that you helped me to listen and do as you asked.
One of my longtime favorite verses in the Bible actually talks about the “foolishness of God.” The Good News Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:25 puts it this way…
For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
I take such comfort in these verses – especially now. It seems like the world is filled with self-proclaimed “wise men” propounding on all they know about everything from the coronavirus to the world at large, including weather, wars, fires, hurricanes, and the rise and fall of nations.
I’m so tired of the wisdom of the world.
Longing for God to DO something
The truth is, I’m longing for more of God’s interference in our world. I’m longing for Him to appear front and center stage with HIS anointed ones pointing the way before them. I’d give almost anything to see another Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Hosea confront our world… but my people wouldn’t listen to God’s prophets then; why should they listen now?
Then I think about Jesus, why doesn’t He DO something – now? Wouldn’t a few more public miracles cause more people to repent, cause more nations to turn to Him? Couldn’t the appearance of the hosts of heaven stop the Taliban?
I can’t stand reading the news anymore—every time, I find tears in my eyes. I feel like the whole world is caught up in a madness beyond my comprehension. But somehow, I have a feeling that my longing for miraculous interference is just another version of the wisdom of man. God’s ways are not my ways in the end.
He has shown thee o man what is good
Years ago in college, a dear brother taught us a chorus that often comes to my mind. As I wonder about what God is doing, it comes to mind:
He has shown you, O man what is good;Micah 6:8
and what does the LORD require of you,
but to do justly,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?
That verse reminds me that I’m right back at square one. God IS doing something, but He has chosen to do that something through simple men and women like you and me. He wants us not to just WANT justice, but to live justly, to be just, upright in ALL our doings. He doesn’t want us to just rely on His mercy; He wants us to extend that same mercy to others, including our enemies and those I disagree with. And He wants humility to be seen in my walk before Him… I can demand nothing from Him… however, I can humbly ask.
As I’ve wept over Afghanistan, I’ve had to confess of my own selfishness that didn’t really care about that nation until the news forced it into my attention. I pray now for justice, I pray now for God to touch hard hearts – but where were my prayers before all this happened? Why wasn’t I begging God to lay a groundwork of justice and mercy and to draw Taliban members to Himself before any of this happened?
Learning to pray differently
As a result of these musings, I’m trying to pray differently. For the first time ever, I have three different diaries going at once. One is for prayer, one page for each issue/person, etc. This way, as I learn of answers, I can write them down. When my mind goes blank, I pick it up and remind myself of the many needs at home and overseas. Another I use at bedtime to briefly write at least one thing I’m thankful for – no matter how awful I might feel or what happened that day – and another where I just plain journal and write and pray… This is helping me to remember how many needs there are outside of my own narrow world.
Some people have scripture verses all over their home; others have a map of the world on their study or living room wall… you get the idea. I think it has helped that we are now spending the end of our meetings at the Chinese Church with at least 15 minutes or more spent praying for another nation that most of us know little about.
Learning to get out of me
All that to say that I guess the real reason I’ve not written sooner is that I was stuck in me, myself, and I. So I do ask you to forgive me for that. I have been enjoying some wonderful quiet times lately and have been discovering many wonders in God’s word. So my plan in the coming months is to share with you the things I’m learning, and I hope that they will encourage you as they have encouraged me. We are in this together!
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