The patient is not afraid. It’s operation time. He is healing her. It is good

Nestled in the arms of the recliner.  Legs outstretched in front; body tilted back. She can see laid out to the left of her chair are the doctor’s tools. Some of the instruments are rather sharp, even fearsome, but the patient is not afraid. It’s operation time. He is healing her. It is good.

The Doctor’s favorite scalpel is a battered and marked up Bible.  The patient spends a lot of time with this book; writing notes upon notes in the margins regarding things he points out to her during their sessions. Sometimes she takes the words and comments to heart; other times they get filed away until her wounds break open yet again. The Doctor remarks his patient is rather hard of hearing during some of their consultations. Maybe she also needs hearing aids?

The therapies are not convenient and often not comfortable. Keeping further infections at bay is critical. But healing comes from brokenness. This Surgeon will not turn her away, regardless of her illness. She can be made whole.

This operating room is sacred space. It is here, in the quiet, that God pulls her out of herself, away from her own worries and upheavals and into the Universe where He rules. She needs clarity, especially on those days when she wanders through His Book and it seems as dry as dirt (often a match for her own soul). His plans are far greater than her short attention span can fathom. Her home remedies are futile.

Just a warning, God’s work while she’s in the chair can be painful. There are numerous times when God has told her in no uncertain terms to repent, to eat humble pie, and to let go of prized projects. He nudges her to remember that He alone is the expert with the scalpel, not her. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Despite the pain, this is the one place in the world where she knows she is guarded, protected and secure. Healing is possible. “Whoever dwells in the recliner of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2) In this space, she is consistently, heard, valued, and loved. She is safe in the Surgeon’s arms.

For suggested additional spiritual healing, try Sharon Garlough Brown’s book “Sensible Shoes”


The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her

Over the years, Sandy ministered to many people.  She was a nurturer and she mothered people and pointed them to Christ.  An outgrowth of her job was helping to take care of the employees from Central America.  Sandy had a big heart.  One time she took on the local justice system when one of the workers wound up in jail.  If Sandy thought something was wrong, she would go to great lengths to make things right; she was a tigress. 


It was quite a shock when what Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The doctor at first thought it was just an infection, but after an unsuccessful course of meds further testing was done and she was given the diagnosis of cancer.  Sandy had a mastectomy and then started the dreaded chemotherapy.  She would have a course of chemo, get quite ill, start to feel better and then have to go for more chemo.  The chemo was followed by radiation. 


During the course of these therapies, Sandy’s lovely red hair fell out and her skin developed nasty painful rashes.  She had always been strong physically and now found herself imprisoned in a sick and alien body. Through the relentless progress of the disease, Sandy endured.  That final summer of her illness we discussed the question: “What happens when all there is left, is God?”


Have you ever thought about Jeremiah of the Bible?  The dumped him in a slimy stinking mud of a cistern.  It had not been a winner season for him.  A look at Jeremiah 38 bears witness to a most disheartening progression of events.  As a preacher, Jeremiah faced a audience that didn’t pay any attention to his message.  God turned up the heat on Israel with an invasion by the Babylonians. Falsely accused of being a turncoat, Jeremiah was beaten and imprisoned in a dungeon for a lengthy period. Then came the terrible cistern.  The narrative tells us that he was so mired in the mud. When finally released it took thirty men pulling on ropes to lift Jeremiah out of the mud’s suction.


What did Jeremiah find in that dark cistern?  Stuck and in the dark, all he heard was the dripping of water. All light fades.  During her final weeks of life, Sandy found her sight deteriorating because the cancer had spread to her brain.  The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her and the only place of safety was in the arms of the Savior. 


Psalm 46 paints a picture of a world in which the mountains are quaking, the seas are surging, and the earth is giving way.  Everything depended on in the past falls away.  Yet, verse seven says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  It is one thing to consider God as with us and quite another to consider God as actually being our fortress. 


In that dark cistern, what did Jeremiah find ?  What did Sandy discover when her eyes lost sight?  Stability has flown the coop.  All constants disappear. One thing remains: God. In that moment, God is enough.  Ask God to open your eyes to His fortress of love.


He was a new convert. As a newbie to anything Christian, the handbook for him might as well have been written in Swahili.

Ahh, the delights of the Student Handbook. It was a freshman’s first required reading years ago when I began Bible College.  Contained within were all the rules which would ensure a “happy” college existence.  The list of prohibitions was long and infractions were harsh. Included in possible “crimes” were attending movie theaters, guys’ hair extending over their shirt collars and girls’ skirts to not touching the floor (if the girl was kneeling). For many of us (including me) it was a culture shock. 

I met Carmen, a new convert. As a newbie to anything Christian, the handbook for him might as well have been written in Swahili. Carmen was recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and clearly not prepared for the rulebook. What he desperately needed to learn was what fellowship with the Savior was all about. Carmen was unable to find the joy of the Lord.


Charles Spurgeon wrote, “If any of you have lost the joy of the Lord, I pray you do not think it a small loss.” Spurgeon believed Jesus’ promises regarding joy. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11) But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13) If joy is not found in a college rulebook, where can it be found?


Joy is in a Person. In I John 1:1-4, the Apostle John makes sure every reader vividly knows exactly Who Jesus is. Jesus is not some vague historical figure, but Someone who John and hundreds of others heard, saw, touched, testified about, and knew. The believers formed a holy family circle with the Savior. Even 2,000 years later, this circle is open to all believers. The individuals in the circle do not have all the same skirt length, haircut, or even choice in entertainment.  What we gather around is the very Word of God, Jesus Christ.


As believers, we long for connection. Jesus offers fellowship with God Himself. Christians tend to loosely throw around the word “fellowship”. God’s usage is not a church’s potluck. a high school lock-in, or a good old fashion hymn sing.  This is a deep connection with God which aims to flood our being to its very core.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 


How does one gain fellowship with Jesus Christ? By agreeing with Him. Christ functioned on this earth always in deep fellowship with God, agreeing with the Father. They never disagreed.  Jesus’ haircut was never an issue; the will of the Father was.


Agreeing with God and taking action on what He actually says in His Word brings joy. There is a place setting for you at God’s table and He longs for you to dine with Him.  Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Sadly, Carmen was unable to follow the college handbook and was kicked out in the Spring of his first year.  He never learned that fellowship with God is not created via manmade rules. If only someone would have drawn him into the circle of fellowship with Christ and what His Word actually said.


Maybe this week, take some time and begin making a list of what is keeping you from having deep fellowship with God.  The litmus test may be the questions: “What is your joy level? What is preventing your joy in the Father from being full?” God longs for you. Do you long for Him?

For further reading on vital fellowship, click