Archive for July 2012

Remembering God in the Stream of Life

July 31, 2012

Arthur Bennett once wrote:

“I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls, yet I daily violate and [condemn] its precepts.”

The Valley of Vision, 1975, p 70.

I would imagine that Mr. Bennett wrote with a desire to walk in fellowship with God, and yet he recognized there were times he didn’t.  I live in that world.

In the morning, while I have my quiet time of reading the Bible and praying, I have a desire to walk with God, honor Him, and do his will during the whole day.  If I picture my activities of the day as being a stream, I see myself sitting on the edge of the stream as I read my Bible and pray.  When I am done, I step into the stream of life and begin walking, following the course of the stream.  Walking in a stream one has to pay close attention to the stream bed.  Sometimes there is sand, sometimes muck, sometimes pebbles, sometimes rock ledge, sometimes shifting rocks covered with slippery algae.  One has to concentrate on the stream bed, the current, and the flow of the water.

As I sit by the stream bank, I am full of resolve for how I will walk in fellowship with God, but as I step into the stream of life, immediately I find that I am preoccupied with not slipping off that stone, not losing my sandals in this muck, not sliding off that slippery rock ledge.  Or, in my real world, I am preoccupied with answering this email, making this telephone call, running this errand, etc.  I find myself totally having forgotten my earlier resolve to glorify God in my life as I step from one slippery rock to another.

This brings me to pray, “Dear God, as I step into the stream of life today, help me to remember You, your Lordship in my life, your worthiness of worship and praise, and your desires for my life — as I interact with my family, fulfill my responsibilities, run my errands, and have opportunities to point others to You.”

Like the poet, my heart’s desire is to please God, and let his perfect law reign in my heart that I might walk in dignity before him while navigating the Stream of Life.

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Carpe Horam — Seize the Hour

July 21, 2012

It has been several months since I have completed a new post for this blog.  It has been during these months that I have been receiving my chemotherapy.  There is a direct correlation between my “silence” and my treatments.  While I am thankful that I have now completed eight of the twelve bi-weekly infusions, I have been challenged by the various “demands” which the infusions bring on my body.

My infusions are on Mondays at the Regional Oncology Center and take most of the day.  At the end of my infusion on their pump, I am hooked up to a portable pump, which continues to give me more of one chemo agent for forty-six hours.  Two days later that infusion ends and I am disconnected.  On that day, day three of my chemo cycle, I find that I usually am very fatigued, and need to take a couple of naps during the day.  The same is true on day four and day five (and sometimes day six) of my cycle.  Consequently, on five out of the fourteen days of my chemo cycle, I really can’t “count” on getting very much done.

This means that in each two-week cycle, I have nine out of fourteen days to get done whatever I need to do for work, home maintenance, etc.  But, on those remaining nine days, I can also have fatigue or some other chemo side effects that “sideline” me.  This is the primary reason why it has been a while since I have written another blog post.  I am much pressured to get done what is absolutely necessary each week during my good hours (preparing for speaking and preaching) and find that my writing is getting “squeezed out” in the process.

Although many people have heard the expression, “Seize the Day” (from the Latin: Carpe Diem), I find that the expression, “Seize the Hour,” is more fitting to describe what God is teaching me now.  I have come to realize that I can treat my “good” days very presumptuously.  That is, I’ve found myself thinking, “I can’t count on getting anything done on my first five days, but I can count on getting things accomplished on my nine good days.”  Upon reflecting on this thought, I have been convicted by James 4:13-16.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.”

James 4:13-16 [ESV]

I have learned that I don’t know what tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or the day after that, will bring.  In fact, even on my “good” days, I find that I can have a productive morning, but then be overwhelmed with fatigue in the afternoon and accomplish nothing.  Let alone tomorrow, I don’t even know what the rest of today will bring(!), and I must not be presumptuous that I will “do this or that.”  Instead, I find that only if the Lord wills, will I “do this or that.”  Which means that I can only count on “this hour.”  This is the hour which the Lord has given me.  I can use it wisely, or I can fritter it away.  But if I do “fritter it away,” I am acting presumptuously that the Lord will give me a later hour for that which I could or should do presently.  This has led me to try to remember to Carpe Horam, “Seize the Hour” — to do, in the present hour, as wisely as possible, what God would have me to do.

I understand that Horace, from whom the phrase, Carpe Diem, “Seize the Day,” is quoted, didn’t have the same perspective that I have.  In fact, he used it in a context to emphasize that since the future is uncertain, one should put a minimum of trust in the future, seize the day, and enjoy its pleasures.  Instead, I am being challenged to make the most of the present hour, for I cannot, without presumption, count on a later hour.