Decisions and Distractions

Carmen's Story

While we were living in the UK Lon became anemic and for two years we had visited several specialists ( they call them consultants in the UK) and nobody had figured out a way to properly treat his anemia. He had taken vitamins and supplements and had not improved.

Lon had a business trip scheduled to the United States in a few days.

One morning, I was sitting with my bible in the conservatory of our English home. In England, a Florida room could be called a conservatory which overlooked our English garden. I cannot say I was praying that morning, though my prayer journal registers several prayers for Lon’s Health in those two years. A very clear thought came to my mind and I know now, for sure, that thought came from God. The Holy Spirit, in His gentleness and compassion simply gave me a thought: “Make an appointment for Lon in the United States for him to be seen about his anemia.” I felt it was very important to make that appointment right away.

I sat in front of my computer and looked for a list of doctors who accepted our insurance. By the Grace of our Lord, we still had health insurance in the US, though we thought we were going to stay in England for the rest of our lives. I knew I needed a blood specialist, which is a hematologist. And then I prayed, quickly. Lord, help me select a good doctor who will see Lon in this next trip. One name stood out from the list and he was an Oncologist / Hematologist at the Florida Hospital in Orlando. I thought: Interesting that they combine, nowadays the hematology with oncology.

I proceeded to make that appointment and spoke with one of his nurses who explained that it is very difficult to see Dr. Ambinder in less than 2 weeks, especially if it is a first time patient. “We have been overseas for almost five years. My husband had been anemic for most of that time and did not receive the treatment we needed, would they make an exception?”

Lon visited the doctor’s office as planned and the Dr. had him take an X ray of his lungs which revealed a growth in his right lung.

Lon was back in the UK before we received the phone call from the doctor’s office, again God spoke to me very gently that there was something wrong with Lon’s lung.

I know the Holy Spirit alerted me, I think, to prepare me gently to what was coming.

I look now at a photo taken when Beth and Rob came to visit us and we used to sit at the garden and have lunch and dinner or tea. They prayed for us. I remember Beth saying, “God will take care of Lon if there is something wrong with his health.”

Lon's Story

How many times in our lives do we long for simple paths to prosperity, spiritual growth, and security? We build structures around us that become familiar and comfortable: a home, a marriage, a family, a career. We daily follow repetitive paths: wake up, clean up, eat up, commute, work and on and on. Routine is stable and, in most cases, comforting.

But what happens when an unexpected condition arises that threatens to shake the very foundation of routine? And what if you have the luxury of deciding when – not whether – but when to step off course?

An example is surgery for oneself or a loved one that is not totally elective, but not otherwise avoidable. How do you decide the best course when you know that there are carefully calculated, but not really dependable, odds for success or failure?

Carmen and I faced just such a condition in 2003, when the need for multiple surgeries threatened what was otherwise a comfortable, though not plush, existence in England. Surgery was indicated, but could not be accomplished quickly within the British national health system. It became clear that the only option was a return to the U.S. for the surgery most immediately indicated, followed by another operation that was more of an elective nature.

Upon returning to the U.S., it was apparent that an even more critical operation would be required than was expected and suddenly three surgeries were ahead of us. In the midst of this, I heard the Lord telling us that we were back to stay, as if we didn’t have enough to distract us already.

We sought advice. The best came from a person who would become our church pastor. Use three specific steps for guidance, he suggested:

First, and foremost, pray to our Heavenly Father for guidance.

Second, seek saintly advice. Talk with Christian friends who would also pray for us.

Third, do the numbers. Be certain we’d done everything we could possibly do to survive the change financially and, then, when that was done, leave the rest of the provisioning to the Lord.

This was advice we would never forget and which we would use again and again.

In 2003, I underwent four surgeries, two of them considered very major. By the grace of our Lord we survived those and the transfer back to the U.S. I always thought of them as distractions in our life's path.

Points to Ponder

One can never tell when the comfortable routine of life is going to get a major interruption. Suddenly, all the things we are so busy doing in the frenetic lifestyle many of us live with each day become irrelevant. Something has come up that pushes everything else aside and now needs all our attention, energy and focus. It may be a health issue, a financial issue, an employment issue, a family crises …... any one or more of a huge list.

So how do we deal with this “distraction”?

Firstly, we need to recognize that as a Christ follower we are members of another kingdom. One that is at war with the kingdom of darkness. Thus we need to be aware that the events we experience may be temptations or outright attacks – events set up to try and “take us out of the fight”.

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor 10:12~13

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Eph 6:10~13

Thus, sometimes the things that interrupt our life are a major distraction to get us away from what we are called to be and do. Therefore, when we are presented with a life crises, we need to discern if this is a matter that needs to be resisted – remembering:

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:3~5

The first and foremost thing we must always do is pray – simply talking it over with our Father in Heaven is a vital step in the process of dealing with any issue that comes our way. God is big enough to deal with our questions, rants and raves – remember He loves His children and has a plan and purpose for everything that comes our way and will gain glory and further His Kingdom purposes despite what the enemy throws our way.

Second, God is committed to developing His character in us. As a preacher once said: “God is more interested in our character than our comfort.” - Ouch! Not what we really wanted to hear. So in all crises that present themselves, it is very important that we look for learning and growth opportunities.

  • How should I be responding to this situation?
  • Are there changes I need to make? - In how I react? In my life priorities?
  • Do I have my priorities sorted in the right order? - According to who?
  • Have I had a similar event occur before? - If so, why again? Is there something I haven't learned yet? Or is there something I need to change in my thinking process and response to life situations and people?

Remember, we never fail God's tests, we just keep taking them until we pass.

Third, what decisions do I need to make in order to deal with this situation as God would like? How do I get His perspective on this?

As mentioned in Lon's story, praying, getting wise counsel and doing the numbers are necessary steps towards the correct solution to our dilemma.

God has blessed us with brains, mouth and ears – we need to use these to their fullest when presented with a crises. Remembering we have two ears and one mouth, so twice the listening and half the talking!

If we are facing a financial crises due to losing our job but continue to spend large on the credit card we are not using our brains. If we are facing health issues due to being over weight, we need to deal with our weight. Possibly trivial examples, but hopefully sufficient to point out that sometimes we miss the obvious. This is where talking, and listening, to wise counsel – and someone who will be honest with you – is so important.

Get Connected

Also, are we prepared to hear the truth? Are we really prepared to hear and take action? Unfortunately, there are many that prefer to live with the situation they know and have become comfortable with or accepting of, rather than take the initially painful steps towards wholeness that God calls us to.

The Bible tells us that God's Kingdom will not cease growing and increasing in influence. As members of His Kingdom, His influence and impact in our lives should also be increasing.

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isa 9:6~7

He came with the express purpose of

18"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.19He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. 21In his name the nations will put their hope." Matt 12:18~21

1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, Isa 61:1~2

Jesus with His work on the cross, death, burial and resurrection has ushered in the means for us to be made whole and complete in Him. He does not want to see us hurting and broken and is committed to seeing us pursue Him in all that we do so that we become part of His correctly functioning Kingdom. As you can see from the prophetic promises, His will is to gently by His Spirit and power lead us to healing and wholeness.

Make it Yours

Am I whole? What area of my life is God putting focus on?

Be assured and convinced, God has only the best plans and intentions for our lives. Commit yourself to Him, He will provide the means to fulfill His Kingdom purposes in our lives.

  • Are you in sync with God's plan for your life?
  • What actions can you take to get in sync with God?
  • Are there areas in our lives that need attention, that are less than what God wants for us?

Pray about it – careful – this one is dangerous!

God, I give you permission to do anything in me that you need to do, so you can do everything through me, that you want to do.