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May 10, 2013

“I do not ask that You should take them out of the world…”
John 17:15a

Dear friends and co-laborers in Christ…It will be a most hallowed moment when we believers are called Home to be with Christ Jesus. In a few more days, weeks or years the Lord’s saints who are presently fighting “the good fight of faith” (I Tim 6:2)will be finished with the sufferings and afflictions of this life and will enter into the joyous presence of our Lord and Savior.

But even though Jesus prayed, “I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am,”(John 17:24)He does not ask that they be taken presently from this world to their heavenly abode. Yet how often do we wearied souls pray, “O that I had the wings of a dove! I’d fly away and be at rest…?”(Ps 55:6) But this is not how our Master prayed. In His sovereign wisdom He leaves us in the arms of our heavenly Father until the fullness of time, until the “fruit is properly ripened.” Then it will be gloriously “picked” by God working from His calendar that measures time differently than we do: “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”(2 Peter 3:8)

Why does He not rescue us from our present suffering when it seems so monstrous? Could it be that our continuance in such circumstances would be more profitable for our spiritual growth as well as a needful testimony to other believers and/or unbelievers? Could it be we’re seeking relief and rest more for ourselves than to be in the eternal presence of our Great Creator?

Certainly, our yearning for heaven now is right if we can keep it in the same perspective as the Apostle Paul did: “as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…[but]would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (II Cor. 5:6-9).

Yes, we thank Him by faith for our present circumstances, trusting Him to grant that faith which will enable us to contemplate and lay hold of the future blessings of glory and then to live in the present enjoyment of them… until He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” At that point, we’ll understand experientially that the surpassingly heavy-weighted eternal glory of Heaven certainly does make those afflictions of earthly days seem like momentary and light burdens (II Cor. 4:17). For one day in our Father’s house will more than counterbalance the years spent in this dreary wilderness.

Anastasia’s Medical Update
“Today is the worst day of my life, Dearest,” were the words I was greeted with when entering my princess’s room yesterday at her Senior Care facility here in New Wilmington. Indeed, I could tell immediately that she was in desperate straits again. This has been an ever-increasing pattern over the past several months as her disease (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy/PSP) moves through her motor/nerve system. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment or cure from a human perspective. Since this is a rare brain disorder, it causes serious and progressive problems with control of gait and balance along with complex eye movement and cognitive issues.

This is further exacerbated by the companion disease, Corticobasal Degeneration/CBD, which is more sinister and likewise a rare, progressive neurological disorder that affects both the motor system and cognition. Combined, these two diseases, which are under the umbrella of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), are causing Anastasia much suffering particularly with rigidity, walking (which is minimal now), blunted emotions, dizziness at times, apathy, slurred and halting speech, difficulty/slowness in answering questions, occasional irritability, personality changes and tremors.

Her most comfortable place is her bed where she spends about 22 hours per day. She prefers quietness and struggles with interruptions. However, she does look forward to seeing me in the late afternoons when I come to share Scripture/devotions, pray with her, feed her the evening meal, help her to undress and climb into her “jammies,” give her a rubdown, sing a hymn and then read one of her poems. Normally, she’s “between the sheets”–now called the “sweet spot” of the day–by 6:00pm with a beautiful smile on her face for the night. However, I must confess, that these are moving moments–some of the most challenging hours of my life. But God in His goodness is mercifully working within. How can I put this? It’s like He’s peeling my heart as an onion; throwing away layers of “dross” that encumber the soul and are unsightly to self and unbecoming to observers.

I’m mindful of George A. Young’s hymn, “God Leads Us Along” and how meaningful it has been to us:

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the Blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in the darkness of night,
God leads His dear children along.

See you on the mount,
Richard A. Burr

* Attribution is given to C.H. Spurgeon and A. W. Pink

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