A year ago, when I turned 64, I posted a lighthearted blog citing the musical question,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?
Melanie’s birthday is exactly two months after mine. She spent that evening, October 24th, winning the Judge’s Award for her fudge at a church food tasting event. One week later, on Halloween, I nearly died of a stroke. They put a feeding tube in me but didn’t expect me to live. I was in the hospital a little over a month. Just before Christmas Melanie was finally able to take me home again.
And I got the answer to my question. I have gotten it seven times a day since then. The stroke left my hands too shaky and unsteady to pour food and water into my tube. Melanie sits by my side and does it.
This is not the 65th birthday I expected. But if our lives are truly surrendered to Jesus, do we have a right to expect any voice in our days other than one that says, “Yes, sir. Thy will be done. Glorify Your Name”?
Last week we hosted the weekly centering prayer group that meets at our house. When it came time to share prayer requests I turned to the guy sitting next to me and said I wasn’t sure how to say clearly what I wanted prayer for. I had been fretting about not feeling all warm and fuzzy to Jesus in my condition. I fumbled a few words out and let it go.
My friend said, “That’s interesting because that’s what I’ve been praying for you for the last 20 minutes.” I appreciate when God lays the burden on the intercessors, and confirms what He is saying that way.
I believe that our feelings are not a good guide for our hearts when it comes to following Jesus. We call him Lord but that title means something. Do I mean it?
The prayer group stayed an additional half hour after we wrapped up the final prayers. We all had further thoughts to share about this interior battle when, in our Christian walk, we don’t feel like we thought we would or should. Does the lack of “right feelings” mean a lack of sincerity or resolution? It’s another question I didn’t expect to be asking so seriously at this point of my life.
By his stripes we are healed. I believe that.
When we ask our Heavenly Father for bread He does not give us a stone. I believe that.
We are to walk by faith, not by sight. I wrote a whole book about it.
And I believe that Jesus taught us to ask “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” regardless of how I am feeling. And that’s okay.
Because I believe God when He says His plans for me are to prosper me and not harm me, to give me hope and a future. He is the God of all flesh and nothing is too difficult for Him.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul,and don’t forget all his benefits; who forgives all your sins; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your desire with good things…
That’s a commandment, oh my soul. Feelings don’t count.
But learning to ignore them: that’s tricky. The disciples didn’t do well during storms over the Sea of Galilee. As Peter found out, it’s hard to ignore wind and waves while learning to walk on water. Not impossible. It can be done. But maybe not well, the first time.
And there are the tears. Melanie and I have both shed them. It actually comforts me that Jesus knows what that is like. He’s been here and done all that. He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust and easily broken. But the fragrance of Christ can be detected when the vessel is broken. The thought scares me more than it appeals. I hate my own fearfulness.
In that regard, it must be like growing older and facing declining physical health. It’s hard to ignore. Hard not to look back to better days. That didn’t work well for Lot’s wife. I don’t expect it works well for us. It isn’t working well for me. The changes are what they are. And Jesus is Lord yesterday, today and forever. He says to ask, seek and knock with prayerful persistence. So I do. I ask for complete healing and restoration.
I believe His eye is on the sparrow. I know He is watching over me.
Meanwhile, oh my soul, learn to trust. Learn to relax. Enjoy the daily bread provided for today and stop worrying about yesterday – or tomorrow.