Another Year – “Praise God!”

2 Comments

My Birthday Reflections

Two days ago, it was my birthday.  I was not able to share this day with my family here in Dallas since they are all back in Canada.  But I’m really okay with that.  Of course it would have been nice to celebrate with them.  But what I did instead was to go out with a friend after church down here and we had a great time just talking and sharing stories about our mission work and interests.

Back to my family, they all sent me a card and either called me or emailed me to wish me a Happy Birthday.  That was nice.  I didn’t need the calls to be reminded that they love me, but it was still so nice to hear their voices and to see their messages.  It means that I was important enough to them to take the time to give me a call, and I am so grateful to God that I have a wonderful family.

    

As I went through the day though, I came to realize once again that I am actually part of another family, the Family of God.  Of course I don’t know everyone in this special Family, since there are millions of Christians in countries all around the world.  But there are a good number who do know me, either from growing up together, or through my mission work.  And now I have a number of new friends made through the ministry and fellowship we can have by means of the Internet.

Take Facebook for example. There are many hundreds of people whom I can call “Friend” on my personal home page of Facebook.  And the FB Page which is also entitled The Listening Post, has more than 750 people who are following it.  So by the end of the day on Sunday, because of the way I get notifications into my email Inbox, there were more than a hundred greetings from these various friends to wish me well and to pray for me to have another good year of serving the Lord.

    

But let me tell you another very big reason for celebrating my birthday, besides having a great family and lots of contacts on my FB account saying “Hi!”  I thank God for the life He has given me, (even taking into consideration my physical handicap).    Actually, because of my muscle disease, I have come to appreciate life more, and I often wake up and say, “Thank you God for giving me one more day that I can live for You here.”  And so having one more birthday means I have beaten this disease for another year.

You see, just about 3 years ago, I had been devastated by the diagnosis of my health condition.  And on top of that, things had not gone well with my mission organization back in Canada.   They had to freeze the financial books and some mission activity for a short while so they could deal with some governmental paperwork to keep the mission running.  I thought I saw all my dreams and hopes for life and ministry coming to an end.

There was about a month back then where my symptoms kept getting worse and I didn’t know if or when I would level out with my condition.  And I felt quite distraught about what was happening with our Canadian mission.  I felt so overwhelmed by circumstances out of my control that during that time, my pain increased to the point that I felt it was crushing my chest and I really thought I might actually die.

    

But God was watching over me and provided me with just the right kind of professional help that I needed to get through that rough period.  I was able to see a Physiotherapist who helped me to set some realistic goals on exercises and short distance walking.  And when I found myself becoming overwhelmed emotionally, there was a Social Worker within the same clinic who took it upon herself to meet with me for four weeks in a row and let me talk out about my emotional and physical pain.

It was truly amazing the transformation that happened within me after meeting with these two ladies for those four joint sessions.  As I spoke out about my discouragements and fears, the Social Worker listened empathetically, while the Physiotherapist made sure the pain remained under control and that I was not in any physical danger.  And through that process, God brought about some real healing to both my emotional heart and to my physical body.

    

What made the difference for me in these sessions was my steadfast belief that God was still in control.  I told these ladies of how I had served the Lord in either pastoral ministry or overseas mission work for many year, and I poured out my heart about how much I wanted to continue to do just that.  And as I talked about how faithful my God had been to see me through some tough periods in my past, I realized that God had not changed, and I could look to Him to carry me through the current crisis to future days of ministry for Him yet.

So I have been marking November in my mind now for more than just stating, “It’s my birthday.”  I have realized that each year I do have a birthday, it is a victory day to mark how God has been faithful to carry me through and on into another year of life.  And so, this is now Year 3 of my new life: life with Christ AND life with my disease.  Lord willing, (if He doesn’t return soon), I will be able to have many more years of service for God, and each time I have another birthday I will say, “Thank you Lord for another year.”


Advertisements

God Is Healing Me!

3 Comments

By Faith, One Step at a Time!

Last month I had an incredible experience. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God is real and alive and He answers the prayers of His people. In Scripture, God is clearly seen as the God of miracles. Scripture also says that He never changes. Based on that truth, and on the testimony of thousands upon thousands of believers today, I believe that God is still the God of miracles today. Let me share my story:

I will not forget the wonderful night in April when we gathered to celebrate communion as a body of believers. It was a beautiful experience of fellowship and worship. More importantly, I will not forget the call to healing at the end of the service. And I knew that God was tugging at my heart and working within me. I felt an electric spark go through me that night, and my heart yearned for Jesus. I was one of many who went forward that evening asking God to do a miracle within me.

During the time of standing at the front, I had tears running down my face as I worshipped Jesus with song from my lips, and my heart and mind were praying to and praising Him. At the end of the service I had a deep need to go to the Senior Pastor. My heart was alive with hope and faith, while at the same time I wept over my years of pain and illness.

When I was able to get to the pastor, I had to hold on to him and weep from the depths of my soul. I don’t know why I wept so. He asked what was wrong that I wept the cry of a person who is mourning over someone who has died. I told him my story briefly, how that I have barely been able to walk for three years. The pastor asked if I believed that Jesus has healed me and I said yes, I do believe.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now let me give a little more background here. It has been since May of 2008 that I have not been able to walk, at least not more than 40 feet without some form of assistance. On good days, and for short distances of less than 50 feet, I would use my walking poles.  (When people asked, I would say, “I am an athlete in slow motion!!)  For intermediate distances, I would use my arm support crutches, and for long distance I would use my walker.

In 2009, I met with a godly couple who know how to lead a person in deep listening prayer. Just like most people, I wanted to know from God if there was a reason I had suddenly been hit with this muscle disease.  So I asked God at that time if there was any sin in my life that might have led to this happening to me. And I know I met with God in that prayer moment.

God gave me a deep sense of peace back then, and during the prayer time I was given a form of a vision, of Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane. I heard (or understood) God to say, “Just as I asked my Son to carry this pain for a purpose, so too I am asking you to carry this pain for a season. And through this you will bring me honour and glory.”

I have believed for these past two years that God gave me that message. And it has been a great comfort to me to know that through my weakness, His strength is made known. In many ways, I have seen more people blessed in these past few years, as they saw me continue the ministry of Bible translation across the world despite my disability and pain, than I have seen in all the years of my service to God before this point.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I think that what happened on the communion night is that I bared my soul before God as I praised Him, but I also asked Him to release me of this burden and allow me to walk again. My mind wants to tell me that nothing has changed since then, but my heart believes that healing is coming from the Lord. Not all at once, but in small degrees I am going to “walk” in faith that the healing is coming.

From a medical point of view, my disease (Mitochondrial Myopathy) can be simplified this way. Basically my body is producing bad mitochondria (the energy production part within all our cells) which results in fatigue and pain. And by faith (as simplistic as it may sound), I am believing that God is going to replace all my bad mitochondria with good ones. And when that happens, then I will be able to walk and jump and run once more.

So now you know where I am at, and what happened that night. It is painfully obvious that I am not fully healed yet, but by faith, I am stepping out to walk more, one step at a time. Please keep me in your prayers that the process of healing will not be stopped or slowed down by circumstances or doubt. I claim the promise in Isaiah 40:31,

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings of eagles. They will run and not get weary, they will walk and not be faint.

My Pain vs. Serving God

2 Comments

Recently, I had a friend of mine express concern over how much Tylenol I have been taking to be able to keep my daily level of pain under control.  I agreed that this is serious, and I outlined what I have been doing to keep my pain manageable.  Thanks be to God that we may have found another answer which we hope will help me.

Back in 2008 when the symptoms of this muscle disease became severe, I was taking around 3000 mg of Tylenol per day, but that was way above the toxic level.  So in 2009, I tried to keep it to 2600 mg by using T3 sometimes (lower Tylenol, but added codeine/caffeine) instead of always using extra strength Tylenol. This year I have tried to keep it to 2400 mg or lower if possible, and just live with more pain.  So none of these choices were still very good.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But this changed about two weeks ago.  Two months ago, I finally was able to enter into the Chronic Pain Clinic program offered here in Calgary.  I had been waiting for over a year and a half to get into this program.  One of my visits was with a doctor who quickly saw how much pain I was in and he had an idea he wanted to try with me.

Instead of taking oral pain killers, he was recommending to me that I try a medicinal patch which I would wear for a week before changing it for another one.  This patch would have a timed-release narcotic drug which would allow 5 micrograms per hour to be absorbed into my body.  Over a week, it would add up to be 5 grams of a drug called Buprenorphine, which is actually stronger than morphine.

When I went back to see the doctor two weeks ago, I told him that the patch did not do much to change my pain.  He actually was not surprised, and he told me that he was mainly wanting to see if I would have a reaction to the drug.  So I went up to 10 micrograms per hour two weeks ago, doubling the dosage of the drug.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The real test for this was the trip I just took to California, since most trips wear me down so much and as the fatigue increases, so does the pain.  I am happy to report that last week went very well, I was able to teach all my class sessions at the mission training class, and my pain was quite minimal, the best I can remember for a week of low pain since this all started almost 3 years ago.

Now for the first time, with this narcotic patch, I feel there is hope to significantly reduce the Tylenol, and at the same time reduce my daily pain.  So far, I have not really seen any side effect of the narcotic.  I do know that if I use it long-term, there is the possibility that I will become addicted to the drug.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

But here are the choices I see in front of me at this time:  1) Ingest high levels of Tylenol which will give me lower pain, more life activity, but there is a high chance of liver damage over time;  2) Ingest low levels of Tylenol which will result in higher pain, restricted life activities, but save the liver (hopefully); or 3) Use the narcotic patch which will reduce or maybe even eliminate my need for Tylenol, and which will give me minimal pain, more freedom for life activities, but possibly result in an addiction to the drug.

Given those three choices, I will choose number 3.  I believe God still has much for me to do, and it is hard to serve Him when I am battling daily pain that will severely restrict my activities in life.  Now there is still option number 4.  Namely, that God will heal me of this disease.  And of course I want that most of all.

So I do still pray for God to heal me, and I invite you to be praying daily for me for this too.  But until that day comes, I will not let this disease stop me from doing His work.  And the work that He continues to give me is to do Bible translation consultant checking.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

That is what I will be doing for two months (Jan. 27 – March 28) leaving in 2 1/2 weeks to go to Papua New Guinea.  Please pray that I will be prepared with my consultant notes by then.  Pray I will have the strength and stamina for such a long trip.  Pray that my pain will continue to be lower, and that the narcotics will not dull my mind as I need to be sharp in what I hear, what questions I ask, and what suggestions I give so they can have the best possible translation.

I want to thank my friend for asking about my health and showing concern over the drug regiment I was on for so long.  I felt that I needed to share all this with my larger audience of those who follow “The Listening Post” and I do ask that you keep me in your prayers.

In all things, I give myself and my service to God, in order that He would       receive the glory, and the Kingdom of God would advance here on earth.  May His will be done.