Friday, July 16, 2021

The Great Work for Which I Was Spared?

Tuesday morning, July 13.

I was down in my basement earlier this morning, working to clean up the bathroom and laundry room after a messy sewer backup that we discovered a couple of hours previously.  It was an ugly job in a depressing, dark atmosphere.  And I do mean dark…like in having no electricity! Indeed, our side of the street hadn’t had power since it was knocked out by the severe rain and windstorm that hit Omaha just before midnight on Friday night. True, I did have a sturdy Maglight flashlight on hand but it was hardly sufficient for the job at hand.

Of course, there was another complication involved and that was the advice I had been given by doctors that I refrain from physical exertions for at least a couple of weeks. That was because of the orbital fracture and other injuries I suffered from a bad fall during a climb of Mt. Bierstadt just a few hours shy of one week ago.  What a predicament. And what a mess.

However, I found that an attitude Claire and I had been trying hard to practice this past week was still very much available to me.  It was an attitude which combined patience, thanksgiving, hope, and a calm listening for the Lord’s moment-by-moment direction.  After all, God had certainly underscored to us His providence in that mountain accident for, quite plainly, it could have been so, so much worse. Thus, it had been rather easy in these last few days to seriously count our many blessings instead of griping or worrying. Among the most obvious blessings? Well, number one; I had survived the fall. Plus, I had suffered no fracture, no concussion, and was never unconscious. The blood from the lacerations around the right eye stopped pretty quickly and Mark and I got them patched up enough to continue down the mountain. And mentioning Mark leads me to add to the count the great help I received from my other climbing colleagues: Ron, Ryan, and Aldo. 

Furthermore, when I finally got down to Frisco to meet Claire, I received the kindest, most excellent care from the nurses and a physician’s assistant at St. Anthony’s Hospital. As they cleansed my wounds, glued and stitched my cuts, and checked for less obvious problems using a CT scan and x-rays, they too marveled that I hadn’t been more severely hurt. They discharged me after just a couple of hours and I was able to drive back to Nebraska the next day. The subsequent week had brought substantial healing to my various wounds and I had returned to a fairly regular schedule. (Except, of course, for having no electricity!)

So, with all of this precedent of God’s providential care, it only made sense that I just keep counting my blessings -- even stuck down in that dark, dank laundry room, Such an attitude is, as Roman 12:1 says of our ongoing surrender to Christ’s Lordship, an eminently reasonable reality.  And, if we are willing to yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, such miraculous fruits as peace, patience, faithfulness, self-control, even joy can be ours in full measure, no matter what the surrounding circumstances.

Nevertheless, the graciousness of our loving Father gave me another helpful gift in the midst of that discomfiting cleanup – a gift of exhortation and encouragement that was colored, I believe, with a bit of divine humor.  For when I first began the work down in the laundry room, I started an internal conversation with God.  In that conversation I reminded Him of Claire’s and my wondering over the past week if His sparing my life on Mt. Bierstadt was for some monumental work, some grand adventure, perhaps some dramatic change in our ministry that He wanted us to discover and pursue.  Nothing had yet come of these musings but we were still quite curious. 

And then suddenly, right there in that dark laundry room, a somewhat alarming question surfaced in my mind, “Lord, this can’t be the answer, can it? Oh, no. Please tell me that cleaning up this plumbing disaster is not the great work You spared my life for!”  

Well, I’ve got to tell you as soon as that sentence formed in my mind, I couldn’t help but smile.  Even more important, I felt confident that my Savior was smiling right beside me.  It was as if He was saying, “Denny, this is exactly what I saved your life for -- this and many other reasons that are way beyond your ken.  What is necessary for you to know is that I require of you the very things I always have; that is, to lean upon the Holy Spirit in order to complete whatever daily tasks I bring your way.  Humbly, steadfastly perform them in the confident assurance that every single act of love, every sincere prayer, every moment of trust in Me will be lavishly rewarded in the life to come.  Got that? Okay, then; be of good cheer and get back to the job at hand, remembering always that the Maker of heaven and earth is right beside you in everything you do.”  

Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love and mercy, Your enlightenment and empowerment, Your immediate presence and the promises of the glorious triumph that will soon be ours to share with You forever and ever.  And please keep helping me to stay the course, to redeem the time, and to finish well in whatever service You ask of me. Amen.