I’ve been thinking a lot about our scripture from yesterday’s post where in Philippians 3:13-14, Paul tells us that “this one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forth unto those things that are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) I mentioned the Greek definition of “reaching out” as encompassing the exercise of stretching oneself forward. It was the action of stretching oneself that kept me arrested by this verse.
I feel like that is the realm that I have been living in over the last few years, 24 hours a day! It is kind of like living in a gym, sleeping on the bench press table at night and continuously working out on an upper body muscle building machine and then the elliptical for hours on end each day! Too bad that I don’t have the physical physique to show for all that effort, although I am positive that my inner self has definitely developed some solid muscle tone!
Following the initial diagnosis of the disease that attacked my wife, I made the decision that I would do whatever is necessary on my behalf to see her successfully through this thing! I set my mind and my spirit to press toward the mark of the prize for Piper’s total and complete recovery… And let me tell you… without any question at all… it has proven to be constant stretch for me. I would think it was probably like Lewis and Clarke as they journeyed each day into new and unchartered lands in pursuing their assignment from US President Thomas Jefferson “to explore and map the newly acquired territory” following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and “to establish an American presence before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition)
I too have found myself venturing to territories that we need to acquire for my wife’s wellbeing and establish God’s presence for us in those various areas before the powers of the enemy of our souls can claim them and render them useless to us through fear, doubt and unbelief.
I know that I have told of one of the first and most prevalent words of advice that I received along the way. An older gentleman who had lost his wife to the disease told me through a friend, that the first thing I needed to do was to lose my pride! He also put together a folder stuffed with resources that he had used in their battle. The one difference between us and them is that they were not believers and did not have the same battle tested tools in the Word of God that you and I possess!
His words though, quickly rang true as I began to stretch out from my comfort zone and accomplish all the tasks that have been required of me. It seems like every week brings before me a new barrier to overcome. Many of the phone calls, appointments and resources I have pursued have totally yanked me out from the security of the previous 50 plus years of comfort zone that I had settled into! But you see, I no longer matter in this journey. My pride has NO place whatsoever. It is all for her! It (hopefully) is all accomplished with and through God’s love acting as the director, the empowerment and purveyor of the confident expectation of the success of each venture as stated within the pages of His unimpeachable Word!
Through it all I have learned that Papa God’s encouragement, His “you’re doing a good job Jim,” is all that I need, although the thing I miss the most with the changes in Piper is her voice of comfort, encouragement and love. I was thinking last night about how much of her I have taken for granted over our 45 year relationship. But now that part of those unique qualities that make her who she is are temporarily suspended, I have realized how important those sweet quick words of love, hugs and the simple things like holding my hand as we go for a walk are sorely missed! It has forced me to stretch out to Papa God as never before! And you know… He has ALWAYS been there when I have cried out to Him.
I have also learned that just as the physical stretching and training of your muscles is painful at the beginning, and then serves to develop you, causes you to become stronger and make you to be better fit, so does the stretching out from your comfort zone as you reach forward toward the call of God for your life. I am actually kind of excited to see what the Lord has in store for us as we complete and win this battle… I’m sure that there is something very exciting ahead… complete with a whole new set of stretching exercises!
So… I encourage you to get excited with me this weekend. Take the time to go to the spiritual gym and begin your work out to improve your life for a victorious future! Have a great weekend. Stay in tune and limber with God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or How am I expecting to STRETCH for Papa God today?”