The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘sickness

STOP!

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As some readers will know, David Murray, with whom I have been enjoying a growing acquaintance, was recently struck down with multiple pulmonary emboli. Others may remember that a few weeks ago, I was battered with something called Ramsay-Hunt syndrome in conjunction with a few other trials. Like David, I felt that I was getting something of a wake-up call; like David, I wrestled with the profitability of trying to work through some of the challenges in public, before breaking cover with a few thoughts; unlike David, I was not particularly cogent.

David has now posted the key lessons from his own experience of being laid aside, and it is necessary reading for all Christians, and perhaps especially for pastors. In particular, David identifies a frightening but ever-present danger for the busy Christian:

Let me summarize where I believe I erred: ministry without spirituality. Perfunctory and spiritual disciplines and going from one ministry activity to another to another to another, with hardly a moment to feel dependence upon God, cry for help, and seek the Lord’s blessing before, during, or after. Cramming every waking moment with “productive” activity. And certainly not a second in the day to “be still and know that I am God.”

But now, in the enforced stillness, I hear a loving and concerned God say, “My son, give me your heart.” Not your sermons, not your lectures, not your blogs, not your books, not your meetings, etc. But your heart. YOU!

Again, like David, I had a wake-up call; sadly, I forget too quickly. I now have the benefit of David’s wake-up call as a reminder of the lessons I had not properly learned or fully remembered. Do read it all.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 1 June 2011 at 12:33

The school of sickness

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Brian Croft has written a book called Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness (or Amazon). He passes on some wisdom from J.C. Ryle on the benefits of physical sickness for the soul:

Sickness helps to remind men of death. The most live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science, as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants at will. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their daydreams, and reminds them that they have to die as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.

Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come. The most in their days of health can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts, and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8). Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and cried every man to his god (Jonah 1:5).  Surely anything that helps to make men think is a good.

Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom. The natural heart is as hard as a stone. It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone is not everything the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel-reading, and the reports of balls and operas, are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things is a real good.

Sickness helps to level and humble us. We are all naturally proud and high–minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are “not as other men.” A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms that we “dwell in houses of clay,” and are “crushed before the moth” (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor, are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side at the bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson is good.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 4 November 2010 at 10:25

Posted in While wandering . . .

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Serving and being served

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In his excellent book My God is True: Lessons Learned Along Cancer’s Dark Road (which I hope shortly to review), Paul Wolfe makes some comments about serving and being served.  Although these are made in the context of his suffering cancer, the principles are worth remembering for all who have opportunities to serve or be served:

What stands out about those two examples [of friends who served Paul Wolfe and his wife, Christy, after his diagnosis of cancer] is that, in both cases, those who cared for us did not wait for us to ask them for help.  They came up with concrete proposals and then proactively sought us out to make them a reality.  By their example those friends taught us a valuable lesson: though there are times when ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’ is all that can be said, there are other times when a more proactive approach is called for.  Instead of ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’, try ‘Let me tell you what I’d like to do to serve you.’  Christy and I learned the value of others offering specific assistance without waiting for those in need to ask for it. . . .

Learn to see beyond earthly similarities and differences within the body and love others for Jesus’ sake.  Do not make the excuse, ‘Well, your church sounds great, but I don’t find mine to be all that loving.’  You don’t?  Well, try this tune: ‘Let there be practical love in the congregation to which I belong . . . and let it begin with me.’  In other words, if you want to encourage tangible service among the members of your church, just do it.

For example, are you the one who is suffering alone, your trials and your needs unknown to others in the church?  It may be that the first step is yours to take.  You may have to go ahead and tell others about your needs before they inquire, and then ask them to help you in concrete ways before they offer.  Remember: your duty – indeed, your privilege – is to let others serve you.  Listen again to the Apostle Paul: ‘Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ’ (Gal. 6:2).  Would you deny your brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity to fulfil his law?  No, there is nothing heroic, nothing admirable, about shouldering your burdens, silent and solitary, if those burdens are plainly too heavy for you to bear alone.

Or, are you the one who has become aware of the needs of another?  Then do not wait for him to ask for help.  Step up and serve him.  And if someone in your congregation is battling cancer, consider seeking and serving him months after he is diagnosed.  By then he may have faded from people’s minds.  By then the flow of cards and visits and phone calls may have slowed considerably.  That is a great time to show him what God is like, the God who promises never to leave, never to forsake.

In short, there is faithful giving, and there is faithful receiving, too.  Model them both.

Are you in a position to show the grace of serving?  Do not be too lazy, too callous, too dull, too slow, too carnal to do so.

Are you in a position to show the grace of being served?  Do not be too proud, too remote, too arrogant, too stubborn, too ungrateful to do so.

“There is faithful giving, and there is faithful receiving, too.  Model them both.”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 12 November 2009 at 15:18

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