Thinking Outside the Pool

December 5, 2013

As yesterday progressed, I enjoyed more strength and energy than I have experienced in a few weeks. Feeling better surprised me! A sunny, lovely day beckoned me outside. In response to Andy’s request “if I was up to it,” I watered our orange trees as insurance against an expected overnight freeze. Two weeks ago, a slow stroll out to the fig tree was enough exercise to put me down for a nap afterwards. This week, I have been able to walk all the way around our block, almost ¾ mile, and still be functional afterwards. I am coughing very little now, and even the esophageal discomfort (collateral damage of radiation) has quieted. I know many people are praying for my tolerance to the cancer treatments and for my healing, and these developments certainly are welcome. It is also likely—eleven days out from my last chemo treatment—that my body is undergoing its expected recovery from the rigors of the toxic onslaught.

But here’s the thought that surprised me even more: after weeks of really not feeling well and being deeply tired, and growing to expect this condition as my “new normal” for a few months at least, my faith had not prepared me for what I might do if I actually felt better! I had no “things to do” list at the ready, no plan for next steps “if I were up to it.” Mind you, I have considered it a necessary and liberating spiritual exercise to learn how to rest, feel useless, wait, and endure. What I encountered from the Lord yesterday was an invitation to be mentally alert, emotionally ready, and spiritually empowered for activity if and when he would give me a fresh wind of healing.

This is a faith issue. The question Jesus might be asking is this: If I were to heal you right this minute, what would you do as a result? Have you envisioned what life is going to be like without the weight of this cancer on your shoulders? Are you ready to step into the realities and responsibilities that physical health make possible? Or are you growing so comfortable with this life of ease (well, okay, and discomfort and disease) that you are losing your desire to be well?

Jesus asks a critical question of the man by the pool at the Sheep’s Gate. This poor guy sat by the healing pool waiting for what? For thirty-eight years amidst “many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed,” he had supposedly waited his turn for a healing dip. So Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:2-9). You’d think the answer would be obvious, but Jesus had to ask it so the man would be mentally prepared for a new able-bodied life. After thirty-eight years, it was time to think outside the pool.

On a practical level, what does the gift of faith look like? Twenty years ago, I worked alongside a gentleman, an elder of our congregation, who was the chairman of the building committee. Our church was planning a transformative building expansion, a process that took over eight years of this man’s retirement to pull off. For years, the town’s red tape and neighbors’ protests stalled our ground breaking, causing the price tag to almost double in the meantime. Mr. Jones was a man of great faith, exhibited in a rich prayer life and divine patience. He was also always ready, at a moment’s notice, to take the next step if and when it was allowed by the city. Many decision-points were scheduled on the Town Council’s calendar, and you could count on Mr. Jones to have the money, the equipment, and the personnel in place the next day if he got the green light. More often than not, he got a red light; but no one will forget the day when the Town Council finally gave approval on a Tuesday night, and Mr. Jones was waving in a huge earth-mover on Wednesday morning. That man had faith and he had vision, and I learned a big life lesson from him. Assume that God is going to answer your prayer, and be ready to live into the reality he creates!

So one of my tasks today is to gather the “things to do” I had before I got my diagnosis and prayerfully prioritize them once again. I expect that if I divide that list into chewable bites, and start chipping away as I am up to it, that even while sick I can make modest progress toward the completion of those goals. And isn’t it interesting that today I am also being driven by a friend to a healing prayer ministry for laying on of hands? Perhaps God is getting me ready for a big switcheroo here and is asking me to expect a miracle and plan accordingly! Stay tuned . . .

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5 Responses to “Thinking Outside the Pool”

  1. L. Lee Says:

    I keep thinking about that QUILT you were going to finish?
    From one quilter to another

  2. Pam Says:

    Yes, the MN quilter has also wondered 😉
    May today’s healing service bring EVERYTHING He has planned for your best life – here and now and here and forever. Seems like, if the Beast had schemes for you, your blog testimonies have put him running about now. Praying for total healing in every fiber of your being!

    • revmary Says:

      To both Linda and Pam, YES, I have been working on my Ahwahnee Quilt right along, especially while it was all hand work. Now it’s time for machine piecing again—a rather elaborate border—so it qualifies for the new “things to do” list. You have good memories to recall this hobby of mine. As far as the other items on the list, I was thinking in terms of my book-wriitng. 🙂

  3. L. Lee Says:

    Yeah for book writing ! A worthy endeavor. We appreciate all your gifts.

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