Sunday, March 04, 2012

4th March 2012

I've been crawling through the day, trying to recover from yesterday’s discomfort. I had a pretty rough night feeling very uncomfortable with chest pains, and decided to stay home today… however as soon as I got up I changed my mind and went to church. Gradually the pain is fading, though painkillers helped initially. My breathing is clear, my heartbeat steady and strong so I presume it must be either muscular, a virus or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Any which way I seem to be getting better, but chest pains must always be of some concern when dealing with ongoing stress. It’s so easy to focus upon the problem and in particular the area of the problem and somehow things seem worse. Panic, panic, panic, maybe I’m about to have a heart attack or perhaps this is the first sign of a lung problem… no, no, no just because I’ve been surrounded by serious ill health doesn’t mean I’m next. Indeed I’ve been doing the aerobic exercise thing for a long while now and I’ve been a vegetarian for years eating mostly organic with lots of fruit. I drink almost no alcohol, limited coffee and plenty of spring water, and I haven’t smoked for well over thirty years. I’ve always walked a lot and before becoming ill played badminton and some squash. Two years ago I had a brain scan, related to ongoing headaches and a hearing problem, and was pronounced fit and well. Last year I had a chest x-ray with similar all clear results. At the same time I had an age related medical and was told I had no abnormal risk of cardiovascular disease whatsoever. Why on earth should I concern myself with anything more serious than CFS and the ever present tinnitus? I wear hearing aids to deal with the second and spend as much time as possible outdoors to manage Chronic Fatigue. I’m really very fit and strong apart from feeling exhausted all the time… a bit like having a permanent dose of the flu.

This morning we had a great talk on the particularly important, though rarely taught, second coming of Christ. Our pastor was spot on in drawing us to focus primarily upon simply being ready. And for sure it’ll happen when we’re not expecting it! Trying to present some sort of eschatological   analysis may be entertaining, but often leads to confusion and distraction. Especially as most ‘experts’ on the subject are quickly proven wrong with changing events. I suspect most Christians who’ve been around long enough will develop their own ideas on pre/mid/post tribulation rapture and amillennialism,  premillennialism, postmillennialism or preterism; my simplistic topic list that barely scratches the surface. I personally find the subject engaging but prefer to hold very lightly to my own ideas as arguments seem persuasive from other directions as well. And wouldn’t it be weird to be raptured at a time when we didn’t believe it could happen, or worse still to not even believe in the rapture of the church whilst it was happening. Or whatever! I don’t actually believe the Lord would have most of us get too embroiled in the details as there are more important things… like caring for the needy, making disciples and suchlike.

I always find it encouraging to be reminded of our future destiny of an eternity with Jesus. But I was also reminded of an experience I had many years ago. One day I was walking through Derby Arboretum, praying yes, but also feeling a little hard done to with my lot in life. And I suddenly I became aware of the host of heaven looking at my life with something akin to envy. Yes I know I shouldn’t call it that but that’s the only word that seems to fit. Heaven is a glorious spiritual reality, filled with many wonders and the perfect presence of God. Earth has very much fallen from perfection and it’s not hard to recognise the evil that so often prevails, in defiance of the goodness that strives for it’s own expression. Yes my life, in common with most, is a real slog at times. Yet surely the physical universe is at the centre of God’s attention. No matter the hardship, life is relatively short compared to eternity. It’s a wonderful privilege to have these three score years and ten serving the Lord in the face of all adversity. We have something that the host of heaven does not… an opportunity to make a difference in another person’s life. To share our faith journey with those who don’t have one. Envy may not be quite the right word, but for sure we also have something they don’t and never can. We can give thanks in the most challenging of physical circumstances… including the cancer journey.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’ (NLT)

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