Saturday, October 07, 2006

The View from My Back

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." This past week I was reminded of this truth in a huge way.

My course for the past week was planned, but none of it turned out as I expected. I should have known something was up when the Monday night Bible study prayer night was cut short by severe thunderstorms hitting the area. Then, Tuesday morning my ESL tutoring volunteer work was cancelled for the day because the building where it’s held had no power. Seizing the "extra" time, I hurried home to finally get busy on my WIP so I could send in the requested full manuscript. By that afternoon I was flat on my back. The culprit? The common cold.

Five days later my manuscript notes are still sitting where I left them when I finally succumbed Tuesday afternoon with not one new word written or one revision made. My "to-do list" for ACFW is there too. My plans were cut short, but God taught me lessons I never could have learned otherwise.

A friend will soon be going through a surgical procedure which will keep him flat on his back for a length of time. Although I've been sympathetic, I never until this week considered how difficult that is going to be for him. By the end of day two I was bored of TV and bored of not being able to do anything but lay there. My friend will have many more days than the few I spent, unable to do a lot less. I'm seeing his ordeal through new eyes.

Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend I hadn't spoken with in a while. I was shocked to hear that she's been diagnosed with breast cancer. At that moment she was driving herself to a radiation treatment. She'd had other plans for her life over the past year which have already be altared by unexpected turns. This newest wrinkle only added another layer.

I just began reading 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. This is a true-life account of a pastor who was declared dead for an hour and a half after a horrific car accident. In the book he shares his after-life experience of actually going to heaven and seeing loved ones who had passed on before him, only to be pulled back to his mangled earthly body after another pastor started praying for him. That alone is amazing to read. But that wasn't the rest of the story. He spent years recuperating while living in deep pain, and enduring difficult physical therapy to be able to live a normal life again. Day after day and night after night all he could do was lay there and do nothing. A young, energetic pastor and dad whose life had taken a huge detour. One minute he was thinking about next Sunday's sermon, and then the next he was facing the most trying and painful experience of his life. Yet God has used him in a powerful way that wouldn't have been possible had the accident never happened.

My short-lived cold was only a small nuisance, but God has used it for more than that. The Westminister Catechism says that the chief end of man is to know God and glorify Him forever. We can plan our days, our weeks, our months, and even our years as much as we want, but it all boils down to God's determination. That includes writing for those of us called to that task.

God has to work in us first before we can do our best work for Him.

Sometimes he does His best work when we're flat on our backs.

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