Reflection and Progression

 

Picture taken from Omnibus III
Picture taken from Omnibus III

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Sitting in a chair facing my friend, who sits reclined back comfortably in her recliner we discuss our new book and what a wonderful author John Bunyan is.  His incredible allegory of the walk of a Christian in Pilgrims Progress. We usually meet once a week at her home (she is completely home bound and unable to do anything for herself anymore) and read a chapter or two of a book.  This week, we began a new book and because we both were enjoying it so much, decided to throw in a second day.  Our visits over the last 6 months have been pretty much the same, we visit first, her husband sweetly confirms she is comfortable and as he exits to his “man cave” office, she and I share a little more of our week and I begin to read.

As we began our new book, we were thrown a curve ball.  I began reading and when I finished page 16, I began reading what I thought was page 17 only to realize that the story didn’t make any sense at all.  I looked up to see that the page after 16 was actually page 23. Now, keep in mind that I cannot read on my own without having to read one page several times due to my Lymes and my friend cannot read at all and depending upon the day may have issues with processing information due to her corticobasil degeneration.  That being said, you can just imagine my dismay to find that in a neatly hardbound book there were no pages ripped out and yet pages 17-22 were missing.  We both sat there laughing not quite sure what to do.  We quickly realized that our time together that day may be cut short by a error in the binding of the book.

Upon further investigation, I found the rest of the pages… 10 pages further into the book.  So, as if it isn’t funny enough that we are reading Pilgrims Progress together, both of us having cognitive issues and both of us being more tired in the afternoon, I now was challenged with reading from right to left rather than left to right and my friend had to endure me stopping at critical parts of the story just to find my place.  Honestly, I kept thinking it would have made for a great home video recording.

Well, as it is with my memory these days, I completely forgot this when I went over to read to her the second day.  So of course, I began reading where I left off and of course ended up reading some of what we had already read earlier in the week amongst the new pages of the story.  Once again, we had to laugh and I had to regroup and figure out where my next pages were.  Were they 10 pages forward or 2 pages back.

Having Lyme makes life so interesting!  Seriously, I can relate to the frustration that was felt in the movie Still Alice… I am physically so much better than last year that I am not complaining at all.  Last year at this time I could not walk up a flight of steps without nearly passing out and I could not do anything for myself except maybe a shower, and that was not daily as I just didn’t have the energy for it.  I was in constant pain, my exhaustion was unexplainable and my energy level was at best good for only about an hour.  By mid afternoon my brain was so foggy that I could not process information, I was unable to drive as I forgot where I was going and when I drove I completely blanked out and couldn’t remember I had driven at all.  To go anywhere that needed walking I had to use a wheelchair.

After 10 months I had serious doubts I’d recover from this illness. You can imagine my my excitement when I found the doctor and protocol I had been looking for since being first diagnosed.  So in early May, my Integrative doctor agreed to let me try the protocol of the other doctor I found and by June I was going to the Highland games with the family and the wheelchair stayed in the garage.  I’m not saying it didn’t need to be brought out from time to time, but overall I was seeing improvements.  By July I was able to make an 8 hour drive to our cottage alone with my daughter and by September I was driving to CA with the kids.  The pain subsided within that first month and slowly my energy level began to increase.  The brain fog has also improved, unless of course I am extremely tired and have not slept well.  Learning my limitations, keeping track of my symptoms and making adjustments with my meds has been such a help.  Having two doctors who look beyond, listen to me with all ears and keep an open mind to the research I also do has been a blessing.

Your likely wondering why I went from reading Pilgrims Progress to my health.  Well, as we read on Thursday, I couldn’t help but to think about the characters in the story, what they stood for and how even though the book was first published in 1678, the allegory is so powerful for us today.  No wonder it is the second most widely published book in world to this day, second only to the Bible.  Although I enjoyed the book a few years ago when the kids and I read it together and studied it, I think after the last year I am enjoying it even more.

On Thursday we read about Christian meeting the Interpreter and what he finds in the Palace prior to going any further on his journey.  Within the Palace there are a number of rooms.  One of the rooms was rather small and introduced were two children, Passion and Patience.  The characteristics of the two were such:

Passion was seen as being discontent; wanting of all things now, and at that moment Patience was quiet; willing to wait for that which is yet to come

In the story, the Interpreter explains:   “These two lads are Figures; Passion of the men of this World, and Patience of the men of That which is to come:  For as here thou seest, Passion will have all now, this year; that is to say, in this world;  so are the men of this world:  they must have all their good things now, they cannot stay till next year, that is, until the next World, for their portion of good.  That proverb, A Bird in the Hand is worth two in the Bush, is of more authority with them, than are all the Divine testimonies of the Good of the World to come.  But as thou sawest, that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags; so will it be with all such men at the End of this world.  

Christian replies:  Now I see that Patience has the best Wisdom, and that upon many accounts.  1.  Because he stays  for the best things.  2.  And also because he will have the Glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.

Interpreter:  Nay, you may add another, to wit, the Glory of the next World will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone.  Therefore Passion had not so much reason to laugh at Patience, because he had his good things first, as Patience will have to laugh at Passion, because he had his best things last; for first must give place to last, because last must have its time to come; but last gives place to nothing; for there is not another to succeed:  He therefore that hath his portion first, must needs have a Time to spend it; but he that has his portion last, must have it lastingly:  Therefore it is said of Dives, In thy Lifetime thou receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou are tormented.

Christian:  Then I perceive it is not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.  

And in conclusion, I want to end with the beginning of what Interpreter has to say next:  “You say truth:  For the things that are seen are Temporal; but the things that are not seen are Eternal:  

I have to admit that last year when I was diagnosed, I wanted my body to heal and for my life to go back as it used to be.  I wanted to go back to being the super mom who could get up in the morning, make breakfast, school the kids, drive them around town for their activities, pull weeds out of the garden, help my friends paint their houses, stop for groceries and spend long hours in the kitchen preparing dinners for my family, all in one day.  I wanted to be able to plan out events for the homeschool community or prepare classes as I once had in our co-op classes.  I wanted to be organized without losing things.  I wanted healing at that moment.  I tried to be patient, and I even prayed that the Lord use my illness for His good will.  Yet internally, my mind wanted desperately to have my life back.

In reading the above exchange between Christian and Interpreter, I was seeing myself as being like that of Passion.  Although my heart longs to be more like Patience, I know that my human nature as a sinner is more like that of Passion.  As the months drew on and  now another year, I am learning more and more the importance of the lessons of Patience.  The story has resonated in my mind ever since our reading on Thursday and I know it’s through the Providence of God that He continues to teach this weary being of lessons He needs for me to learn, sanctifying me so that perfection may still yet be seen.

If I had received the blessing of quick healing, would I have followed the leading of my heart to go see my friend who was already home bound?  Would I have understood what it was like for those who have no or limited social interaction with others?  Would I be reading Pilgrims Progress with a friend who needs to be reminded of the eternal blessings yet to come?  Would I have understood that I truly had sisters that took time out of their days to help me cope in my own loneliness?

Honestly, I think not.  If God had allowed me to follow my own way, just as Passion, then I am quite certain my short lived illness would have been placed in a box on a shelf where dust would settle only to be forgotten.  I would have gone on with my days wanting to be something more and someone more than I am meant to be.  I would have likely filled my days with things that have no real meaning other than for self.  My friend would still be sitting in her recliner, yet I would have missed the blessings of seeing her smile, her sense of humor with her husband and our wonderful discussions that come out of our readings.  I would have missed an opportunity to serve another who was and is desperate for her own healing and for understanding as to why her life has taken the turn it has.

As I continue to read through Pilgrims Progress I look forward to seeing what the Lord once again has to show me.  I hope that as you read this post, you too may consider reading along with us.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Luke 8:15
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

 

2 thoughts on “Reflection and Progression”

  1. There is a one-act play by Thornton Wilder “The Angel That Troubled the Waters”, based on the biblical verses of John 5:2-4. It dramatizes the power of the pool of Bethesda to heal whenever its waters are stirred by the angel. I first encountered an excerpt from this play about a month ago and your post reminded me of it..

    A physician in need arrives at the pool periodically in hopes of being healed. As he is about to step into the waters the angel blocks him. In a broken voice the physician pleads for help, but the angel explains to him that his very illness is what is used to ‘heal’ others. Below is the excerpt:

    Angel: “Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

    Later, the person who enters the pool first and was healed rejoices in his good fortune then turns to the physician before leaving and said:

    “But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour . . . my daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.”

    Sherry, not only are you blessed, but a blessing as well. Your life is a precious example how grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. Even our fidelity to Him is a gift, “If we but turn to God, that itself is a gift of God.” (Augustine).
    God bless you, dear friend, as you continue on in Love’s service..

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