Consider it pure Joy!
One of my favorite Bible verses is from the book of James 1:2-5 which says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him”.
There are days, which for me…. and for many of you…. will test our faith and ultimately show us what God can provide as we trust in Him. Considering “trials” as “pure joy” certainly is NOT what I want to do in my natural self…how about you? But already I am learning first hand that peace can be found through our Lord and His promises even while we are indeed “in the fire”, and with no clear evidence of the outcome. That is, after all, what faith is for. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)
As I write this, we are again returning to Houston for our follow up tests and these will help determine the next step in my healing process. I again so appreciate the incredible prayers and words of encouragement that you all send so faithfully. You have no idea how much it means to see that you are lifting our family up while we experience God’s journey for us.
As we seek wisdom for the decisions now in front of us, and as we wait on the Lord for any supernatural intervention, we also pray for wisdom and clarity while we speak with the various doctors. This is definitely my biggest “growing” experience of my life. I continue to have irreversible empathy for those of you in my world who have lived (or are living currently) this life of trials and challenges….physical, marriage, vocation, financial, as a parent….or as a business person trying to determine what you should, or can, do in the situations that arise. May the Lord continue to be with you all as He is with us. May we count it all joy!
My past few weeks have been quieter, as my main goal was to maintain or gain some weight and health and strength back. I am doing quite well on that area, and feel better than ever right now. I have included a few more photos of us out and about in the Atlanta area… at dinner, or mostly with the family. It has been a time of comfort and recovery and daily reading. Something I don’t do as easily when I am in the full throws of my “previous life”. Believe me…it is a habit, and a comfort, and a power, that I will now be carrying forth into my priorities of each day.
I believe that a great philosophy for healthy living is:
1. Daily prayer and worship to our creator. (knowledge and intimacy)
2. Daily review of priorities and goals (lined up with God’s plan and will?)
3. One hour a day to think and thank…. Plan and meditate
4. One day a month to think and study….listen and reflect
5. One week a year to Rest and strategize…. Praise and prioritize
6. A thankful heart, and forgiving spirit.…always.
I have been having great times with the kids and grandkids and as you can see…. they are growing. Nancy and I have sure been experiencing a richness of communication and refection and spiritual growth…. with all this time together focused on this new challenge…and pondering our correct and fruitful response to it. As I began to emerge from the Chemo/radiation “fog”, we decided to visit the office in Atlanta for the first time after nearly three months, and they were as happy to see us, I believe, as we were to see them. These are such amazing people that keep the N. American ship going, as well as direct the activities globally….with little availability from the “captain” these days. We have raised them well, and been so blessed to have such a level of excellence and commitment.
Everything is smooth. Dave went to South Africa in my absence to join the Convention and Leadership retreat in Johannesburg and Sun City. Peter Cox and Glenda Leonard and Basil Harris were all there as well….and Dave represented the Dornan family, and shared his “magic” as the newest Founders Diamond. I included a few photos. One is of Dave on the golf course in Sun City (with a crocodile behind him!), and one where he and RD were distributing “Free Wheelchairs” from Network of Caring to people in need in Africa. That is always a life changing experience. This was my first time in more than 10 years that I was not at this event in Africa…I sure miss these great “animals” there (both the natural animals that are so amazing…and the N21 “animals” that I love so much) and know they have been more than understanding, and so very supportive in their prayers.
I always want to keep you special friends updated on what is happening in my life as we progress along God’s path….and…. I also want to share things that I am discovering or reading…..as so many of you have shared your hearts and prayers and scriptures back to me. I love that we can encourage each other. I know that with so many reading these from differing parts of my crazy world, I have a significant number who do not trust in the exact same faith or beliefs. I must however share on “my Journey” what is meaningful to me. I hope it is at least a source of understanding of how we Christians deal with life and its challenges, as well as its blessings and opportunities.
God has given us clear instructions and promises. We have only to listen and trust and obey… and with faith….know that He has a perfect plan and we can rest in that. Another favorite scripture for all who are familiar is Philippians 4:4-8 which many of us memorize and ponder often. The apostle Paul is writing to the church people in Philipi while he himself in prison…wow! Listen to his words again.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on such things!” (Philippians 4: 4-8)
So, God has clearly instructed us that we are to Consider it all joy…when we face all sorts of trials. And Rejoice in the Lord…being anxious about nothing…and bringing all our cares to Him with prayer and thanksgiving….and He offers peace that surpasses understanding. Faith does that…it is His gift to those of us who believe. I sure hope that you all can see that this applies in ALL areas of our lives…work and family and health etc. We must learn to find peace and rest and freedom from anxiety or worry by trusting in the One who made us, and forgave us, and died for us, and saved/healed us. This is a victorious life…regardless of what we “see” or “hear”. We certainly cannot know for sure what plan God has for me, or any one of us, but we can seek Him, and praise Him (in spite of what we “see”)…. and trust that He will “deliver” us. Not necessarily, or always, “out of the fire”…but certainly he will deliver us, and be with us, “in the fire”. I have my “fires”… and you each have yours. He is there for us! Listen with me to what I read this morning from a book of encouraging thoughts for those “in the desert”:
We are reminded of the necessity of faith, and also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear missing a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt. The village blacksmith once said; “There is only one thing that I fear, and that is to be thrown into the scrapheap. When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first heat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into a bucket of cold water. I soon find out whether it will temper, or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrapheap and sell it for a penny a pound when the junk man comes around. So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am willing to stand the test, or don’t prove to be a good subject for His tempering process, I fear He may throw me on the scrapheap. When the fire is hottest…we must stand firm…. for when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.
It takes 11 tons of pressure to tune a piano. God will tune us to harmonize with heaven’s notes…. if we can stand the strain. Maybe others of you can take strength from such thoughts as we all face trials and times when the battle is raging. Not always in health areas, but in whatever area we face. The idea is not to simply “endure”…. or survive….but to thrive and have peace and “consider it all joy” as we rest in His promise to deliver us and never forsake us.
I will be letting you all know what we learn…as we have an important additional test in the morning. Your fervent prayers are as always needed as we keep petitioning our Lord for His grace…..and…. we are rejoicing always. I am blessed indeed!