Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Way Sunday
. . . . .
life is hard - a living death is harder still
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Several years ago, I went to the hospital to visit a late 50's year old woman. It was a combination of pulmonary and heart issues that had her hospitalized again.

She had endured a long hard-lived life of alcohol and cigarettes and a number of former 'husbands'. Her first husband, by whom she bore 5 children, died at an early age in an automobile accident. She worked several low-paying jobs to make ends meet.

I know one of her sons. He greatly admires his mother for the hardships she endured while trying to raise him and his brothers and sisters. He himself has suffered similar problems [alcohol and cigarettes] and has done 'hard time' in a state penitentiary.

Since out of prison, he has a good skilled job, is married, and does have several children born of previous relationships. He tries hard to enjoy the toys of the material life he's working so hard to acquire.

His family had never been 'church' people. In the past 5 years or so, he has asked me to pray for particular needs in his family several times. That's why I visited his mother. At the conclusion of our visit, I asked her if she would mind if I prayed for her.

Within a few days, she was sent home. She was placed on heart medication and had to use a portable oxygen tank. She was instructed to stop smoking and drinking.

A few years earlier she had a cancerous breast removed. Shortly before this hospitalization a lump was discovered in her other breast. She just knew she was going to lose that breast, too - she just knew it. Somehow, this seemed more significant to her than her heart and respiratory problems.

She finally went in to follow-up on the breast lump - it no longer existed. Unexplainable to her and her physician, they ordered another round of exams. They came back with the same results - no lump.

She attributed it to my visit and my prayer that God would heal her. She still had heart and lung problems, but her breast had been healed. My experience is to praise God and not try to explain the rest.

A couple of weeks ago, mom was back in the hospital ... couldn't breathe ... lungs filling up with fluids - and she had been smoking and drinking again. I visited on her second day. Her current 'husband' was there in the room, as was one of her other adult sons who had his 12-year old boy with him to visit grandma.

At the conclusion of the visit, I asked if I could pray with her. She seemed eager. Her husband bowed his head; the son did like-wise, and I heard the grandson say to his dad, "What should I do?" - dad replied to just bow his head and be quiet. When done, I told her I'd be back in a couple of days.

I went back, but the day after my previous visit, her lungs were cleared, and her heart was functioning pretty normally. They kept her an extra day and sent her home.

Medicine, or miracle? I surely do not know, but I know God loves her.

She's on medication, and oxygen, and for now has quit the cigarettes and alcohol. Life is hard - I hope she can stay off both of those, but I will not be surprised to hear she is not.

God meets us where we are. Sometimes we recognize Him and welcome Him and start to listen to Him. I don't know where she is in that part of her experience, but I know God is reaching out to her. He is 'thirsting' for her, as He does for all of us.

uncle jim
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Commentary of the day

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
Letter to all her community, called her “Spiritual Testament”

"Give me a drink"

Jesus’ words “I thirst” (Jn 19,28), written on the wall of all our chapels, are not something from the past but are alive, here and now; they are spoken for you. Do you believe this? If you do, you will understand and feel his presence. Let him be as intimately within you as he is in me; that is the greatest joy you could give me. I will try and help you to understand this but Jesus himself is the only one who can say to you “I thirst!” Listen to your own name. And not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart, you will hear, you will understand. Why did Jesus say: “I thirst”? What is its meaning? It is very difficult to explain it in words… Nevertheless, if you could grasp one, single thing from this letter, let it be this: “I thirst” is an even more profound word than if Jesus had simply said “I love you”. So long as you fail to realise, and in a deeply intimate way, that Jesus thirsts for you, you cannot possibly know what it is he wants to be for you, nor what he wants you to be for him. The heart and soul of the Missionaries of Charity consists entirely in this: the thirst of Jesus’ heart, hidden in the poor. This alone is at the origin of all that makes up our life. It sets before us both the goal … and the spirit of our Congregation. To quench the thirst of Jesus living among us is the entire justification for our existence and our exclusive goal. Is there anything more than this we could say about ourselves, namely, that this is our sole motive for living.
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Melody K said...

Thanks for sharing these stories; God doesn't give up on anyone. I think He works through each of us, if we are willing to let Him. There has been a lot said in different places lately about hell. People are rightly concerned about the sin of presumption. However isn't it just as bad not to recognize God's mercy, and His infinite love for us?

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Jim. It is true humility to admit that God can work through us, very imperfect creatures that we are. Perhaps your sharing will embolden someone else to pray openly for someone in need or at least to have compassion on others whose lifestyles we find hard to accept.

Adrienne said...

We never know when what we do will make a huge impact. All we can do is keep plugging along. Just think - you know about these two times. How many are there that you don't even know about that God worked through you?