Friday, September 23, 2011

Letter From A Friend

It has been a couple of years now, since I really started to get to know about the love of Christ. I guess I really started to feel His presence, as is often the case, during a time of intense turmoil in my life. I remember a friend who is a true follower, told me that Christ would never leave me - no matter how bad things got. At the time - this really struck a chord somewhere deep inside my heart. It still does.

During the next few months, I really struggled to keep my head above water, and to maintain the pretence that all was well in my life. I really talked very little to anyone – because that is my nature. I only remember ever discussing my situation with one person – to whom I will always be grateful. People whom I thought were friends, showed their true colours – and some of these relationships have never really recovered, as much as I know I need to forgive.
 I can’t honestly say that some drastic measures didn’t cross my mind. I questioned every aspect of my life, and my worth. I suppose sometimes we need to get to the lowest point to enable us to be saved.

 I guess I had always classed myself as a Christian, but have now learned that being a Christian is more than just something we call ourselves when we are not anything else.
I suppose I always believed that there was a God. What has changed in me is really difficult to explain.
The feeling of God’s presence in me is at times overpowering, and yet at other times – I feel a gaping hole that feels like He has left me for a time. I think knowing His presence, makes the feeling of His absence much more devastating.
My reading of the Bible and of various other material tells me that He does not ,in fact, leave me to my own ( often misguided ) devices – so I still struggle with why I have this feeling from time to time. I have wondered if God gets sick of “beating his head against a brick wall” – and wants me to remember what it feels like without Him. I have wondered if I was just fooling myself by thinking that I could feel Him in the first place. I do still feel like this at times, even though I should know better.
I also know that to struggle and to question faith puts me in some fairly good company. I know I’m not the first, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I pray often that I can be more filled with the Holy Spirit, and that my doubts be washed away.
Prior to these past few years, I had never really prayed out loud. I still struggle to put my prayers into words that can be spoken. Sometimes thoughts and feelings just get too intense, and at times too painful to come out in a “verbally legible” form. I have always been better at putting things on paper, than into words. I get too emotional. I know that God doesn’t care how it comes out – but i think that this part of me will take more time.
If anyone told me 10 years ago that I would spend a large part of each day in silent conversation with God – I would have said they were delusional. Now – it is a part of me.  Not so much a “formal” prayer, as a discussion which ebbs and flows with the activity and emotion of each day. I now know that He is always listening, and knows my heart – even when what is in there is at direct odds with what should be.
I have learned so much from the people around me. I have seen some people with the most amazing strength, and watched as their faith has carried them through some really testing times. I have come to really know some people who “walk the walk” – and I now know that these are the people that i love spending time with. Christian fellowship is the greatest source of food for the soul. I am amazed to see how Christian people are drawn to other Christian people.
For me, probably the greatest revelation of all, has been learning of the Grace of God. I have read quite a few books on Grace – it has really taken a while to sink in. I think we grow up expecting to have to earn or to do something to deserve what comes our way – good and bad. The idea that God loves us absolutely unconditionally – is a little hard to comprehend. This is especially the case since I certainly feel unworthy and undeserving of this love quite frequently. I wonder why God would love a person who has so many faults, and failings. Every time I have feelings that are other than what they should be, thoughts, desires, actions – the whole plethora of bad....I have to re-convince myself that God still loves me. What greater display of love than to send His son to die for me?? This is still so difficult to comprehend some days.
One quote I remember (though the source eludes me at the moment) that really made me realise what Grace means is
“There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less”.
I remember crying when I read this.

I was blessed to hear my local minister talk about choices a while ago. It has really stuck in my head.  Over the past who-knows-how-long, I have really struggled with feelings that are not as they should be. I know that feelings can lead us to make bad decisions. What was said in the sermon, was that if you were thinking of heading down a path that would hurt others, and God – then you should choose another path. It was a simple message..... Choose another path.     I know that I can certainly not rely on my feelings alone to lead me to do what is right. I still struggle with this. I pray about it almost every day.

I also see the hand of God at work in so many places that i was blind to not all that long ago. I have decided that there are no co-incidences. God has His hand in every part of our lives. Lately, I have seen God orchestrate some amazing events – small things in the overall scheme, but they really do blow me away every time. Just little things – like running into a person that been on my mind, but I had not seen (and was not likely to see) for a very long time. This was not just a random event – God knew that this was playing on my mind, and I needed to see this person. As I nearly ran into him coming around the corner of a supermarket aisle, I could barely contain my amazement at the intervention of the Lord. Of all places!
One of my great loves, is good Christian music. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover it. I am continually blessed by some really great messages that come through song. I love singing worship, and am sometimes really struck by a line or a verse that makes me really feel Gods power and presence. A line of a song I play frequently, constantly reminds me about the necessity to live the message, and not just sing it.
“if not joined with my life – I sing in vain tonight”
I think that this is really important to remember – and sometimes really difficult to do.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just a Moment

"It will hurt for just a moment".
I say this often as I position the cannula carefully into the most accessible vein on the back of the left hand. After a brisk flicking of the skin to make the vein stand out, and a wipe with an alcohol swab, my left hand firmly but gently holds the surrendered hand; my thumb on the knuckles, pulling the skin slightly to anchor the vein. With my right hand armed, I carefully pierce the skin a few millimetres away from the intended vein. That’s the part that hurts. Then, over the next half second, carefully guiding the needle forward, I watch the vein wall flick over the needle tip as it enters the vein. In another half second I welcome the “flashback”; that first drop of blood that flows smoothly up the hollow needle and appears in the clear plastic hub, silently confirming my success. Then there is the satisfaction of sliding the outer sheath along the lumen of the vein. That necessary wounding is over in a matter of 3 seconds.
Not long after this, my patient is in theatre, attached by multiple wires and devices to the anaesthetic machine. I watch the glowing green line of the monitor bounce with the electrical beat of the heart, and a second line pulse with the oxygen reading. My ear focuses on that reassuring beep, noting tempo and pitch.
As I inject the Propofol, I explain that, soon, sleep will overtake. I give a final reassurance that I will be vigilant, steering safely through the proceedure.
As we reach completion, the surgeon gives a satisfied nod, and I am able to turn off all the anaesthetic gasses, leaving oxygen alone, allowing recovery to occur.
Once breathing rhythm and reflexes are restored, I help wheel the bed into the recovery area, the patient often stirring as we arrive.
“All done” is what we say in recovery, usually repeating it.
“What, already, that went quick”.
That seems to be the common experience. The passage of time has gone unnoticed. Somehow the anaesthetic has numbed the brain’s sense of chronology. Though hours may have passed, it feels as though in one moment there is sleep, in the next, waking. Or so it seems.

I wonder if this is how it is in death.
In one moment that final breath comes in the presence of loved ones and carers, in the next, resurrection, in the presence of Jesus, and all his gathered flock.
Though a thousand years may have passed, it seems just a moment.