In the previous two posts I have written about the trials and tribulations I have faced since I thought I was called to be a Baptist minister. I had reached a dead end but then something happened to make me realise that I was facing an obstacle that could be overcome rather than the end of the road. Those posts were part of my plan to remove the obstacle. Yet no sooner do I seem to have come up with a plan to get around that obstacle than another one appears.
This obstacle is also linked to free will. I went out for lunch with a friend and they were obviously not on top form. In fact we had to adjust our arrangements because of their health. I wanted them to get medical attention but they only wanted to see their favourite doctor who did not work weekends. Monday morning they were so weak that they found their way to the bathroom floor. They could not get up even with help so an ambulance was called.
It turned out to be a serious chest infection. It came on so fast that one day they were doing their own shopping and the following day they were struggling to walk and a couple of days later they were ill enough to be admitted to hospital. They stayed in hospital for a week before being sent home to recuperate. In a matter of days they have gone from walking unaided to lacking the confidence and strength to get around without a walker. Estimates for getting back to being as fit as they were before this bug hit vary from 2 to 6 months. Like I said this was a particularly nasty infection.
Now this is a good friend who has stuck beside me through thick and thin for decades. It really shook me. So much so I didn’t know how to respond at first. After a day or two when it seemed as though they were getting worse not better I had an idea. I visualised the bugs as hordes of cartoon-like bad guys with black hair and prayerfully went after them. That was when I noticed a definite improvement in my friend’s condition. It was as if I was the one who was really being attacked and therefore I was the one who had to go on the offensive to turn their situation around.
As I said this is good friend and I will need to be on hand to support them for a while. I was already doing some practical things for them that they were struggling with so I have been getting some practise in supporting them. That will continue and may increase a bit but it is time that I returned a few favours.
It has taught me the reality of standing up though. You see when you stand up the enemy spots you and says its time that they were knocked back a bit. That is when he looks for the weak points in them, their family and even their friends. Anything that will tie them up in practical terms. So my time and financial resources have been stolen by hospital visiting, my friend has been knocked out of action for a while so cannot support me in the same way and I am having to give more instead, my peace was stolen for a while. My friend who values their independence is having to be more dependant on others which is not going down well.
I have two choices stay standing or lie down again. If I stay standing I am going to have to learn to defend myself and those close to me in case something similar happens again. If I lie down the enemy has won. They will have knocked out their competition.
There is a passage of scripture Judges chapter 3 I think where it says God allows us to have enemies to teach us how to fight. If He wanted to God could have allowed us to have an easy life with no challenges. Yet He knows that we grow because of challenges,something that professionals call post-traumatic growth. Others say what does not kill you will make you stronger or that you learn from your mistakes or that we are in a spiritual gymnasium. Whatever we learn can be used as a resource to help others.
I suspect that their will be people around me who say step back don’t push forwards with this call at the moment. To be honest that is a really tempting idea. Yet what would happen if I did? Would I achieve what God wanted me to do? Didn’t He know that I would face this challenge when I put my head above the parapet? Isn’t there a promise or two in the Bible about standing by our side and guiding us through challenges? Probably not just two but two dozen or even two hundred.
You see one reason why we are so frustrated about the slow progress towards a fair society is that some of those who are called into the battle to help the weak without weakening them further withdraw from the battle. They see it is tough so step back and say this is not for me so nothing gets done. Problem is that is their free will choice and even God does not violate that so we are all stuck until someone does stand up and fight.