Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

March 11, 2008

Special Need of Prayer

Dear Friends,

I'm finding myself in special need of prayer so, here goes.

Many changes in my life have occured in the last few weeks -- some of them I've alluded to previously, but are concluded, and others are part of the ongoing tendency I have to panic when I'm caught up in change overwhelming. I find that whenever I cast those burdens out to the Lord (and in this case, I sense that I should do it to the whole community as well), I find a huge lifting of fear. "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from my fears." What a marvelous reality.

The first change that has come about has been the ending of my job at Wheaton College after 21 years. I have been treated very well there -- no shame or any loss of responsibility, charity, love or maximum efforts to be of great cordiality whatsoever on their part, especially in the benefits of my departure, so don't anyone question the virtues of that institution! But nonetheless, the release of the final days have been mixed. I simply couldn't remain employed after the number of hours I'd been absent beyond my vacation and sick time. On the one hand, somewhat surprising, it has been a release, in that I don't have to feel the pressures of fighting cancer while at the same time filling as many hours as possible -- a stress on my body's physical battle. On the other hand, there was a risk of no longer having a space in which to do the work I had genuinely enjoyed for so many years, and not to have an outwardly directed space to go on a regular basis.

On a wonderful basis, though, my boss, Lisa Richmond, came to me on the Saturday right after my last day with the College offering a proposal for a 2-3 hour per day job proposal. This would involve a great deal of flexibility for me to do many of the things that I most love at the College, and those that are most needed by the library. I was delighted that I could continue with some additional funding for our family, and truly enjoy these pleasures.

The danger for me is that I'd treat library work as I had always done, and forget the new creativity that God would call me to take on as part of my new venture, unknown as that may yet be. As some friends have save to me, "The only way God would get you free from commitment to Wheaton College, especially with your illness that would lock you in with dependency on health insurance, would be to cause you to lose your job." And, indeed, this is a deeply hard school, but it appears to met its purposes, forcing us to depend in complete faith on the Lord.

On another story, the last day of my job was also the last day of my parents' presence here for their three months in helping us out here in the US. As it turns out, it was a good thing also, though it was also something about which we were ambivalent -- afraid of, and also both ready for. We knew that the Fawcetts needed to return to Brazil, and that they were ready to go, but also knew that they were afraid of my condition, and that they didn't want to see me left imperfectly atttended. But thanks be to God, I improved soon, and many other people have stepped forward to be present in our time of need. This is especially important for Margie as well for many reasons -- the children, my own special eating needs, and on and on.

Before my parents left, we asked that they remain until I concluded a cycle of radiation in my abdomen, as well as the last day of employment by the college. In terms of the radiation, I had been suffering extreme pain from my legs as the nerves higher up in the abdomen moved down through the lower sacro-iliac portion of my thigh. I had a ten-day period of radiation that has definitely releaved some of my pressure, and I can now walk, sleep, sit, and in general, praise the Lord once again for what otherwise would be so distracting that I'd fight to have peace. Praise God for that! I've also had raised levels of hemoglobin, which is the red blood cell levels, praise to God.

Remarkably, then, we've seen all of these changes come together -- my parents left, my job ended, my radiation was over, and my general functionality seems to have improved.

At the same time, I've been very tired and very loopy (my own term) when I get to praying in the evening and my words sound more like a fantasy text that I'm dreaming rather than a true "word from the Lord." How to remain that attentive in such times?

So we now see both good and stressful things overall, improvements, but then sudden shocks of fear. For one, I get surges on occasion fearing a recurrence of seizures. I may have mentioned this before, but even though it has been well over a year since I've had even a minor seizure, and rare that I've had even a fear of seizure at all (I've learned over time how to invoke the presence of God and to quiet my heart), I can still be worried if alone, and in need of calling out to the presence of others, to the saints and to those who have promised to be with us in the hour of need.

I suppose the motive for this particular blog is tied to that reason more closely than any other so far. I have now become a receiver of IV Saline Solution each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until it still works. The doctor and his nurse have both become quite articulate, though, in saying this: "There will come a point when the saline solution won't do you any more effective good in reducing your calcium level. At that point, we won't be able to help you any more." And this Monday (March 10) of this last week, there was nearly no in calcium reduction from Friday, even with some of the additional drugs they use to make sure to tie the calcium to the bones themselves, which means that despite the regular IV fluids I'm receiving, it doesn't seem to be doing much to reduce my calium level even now.

The irony here is that I've had such a sense of feeling better, more energetic, and in less pain, but I still have a deep tiredness in the evening, and am reminded of the word from the doctor concerning the ultimate uselessness of their help, my death, and a walk-away from the hospital into aloneness. Help, my Lord. I need so much.

As for one of the more positive things that seems to come within our privilege, I've gotten to pray for several people at their periods of deepest pain where they are heading into hospice care, or, at the other end, discovering a woman who, due to a call she received at a PCM where I taught and led worship, she heard God call her to start healing prayer ministry at her local church, and then end up as the hospital chaplain at Edward -- what an amazing thing to have met each other on that circular site! Amazing are the ways of God, as she prayed for me after years of having had been prepared for dealing with people like myself! But the battles are still there, and for that reason, I would call out for the intercession of you, my dear friends.

May the Lord do opposite what they are predicting for my bodily condition. May my bones be rebuilt, and may God give you the word whereby to request that. The doctor himself remarked that my ongoing vitality has exceeded that of other patients he has had, and I know he knows that this is remarkable. But may God receive the glory, and may I be delivered of the fear that I carry with me in a way that the Lord does not deserve, for He alone is the source of all truth and reality, and His life is the source of all that I have.

Thank you, dear friends.