We got to bed a little later than normal last night as I wanted to watch the State of the Union address which came on at nine o’clock our time. I think that I might be getting somewhat used to the three-hour time difference between our new home out here on the East coast and our former abode on the West coast. But I can’t totally blame the speech as I also read past midnight once I got Piper settled into her bed!
I always finish my daily activities by either reading my Bible or from a Christian teaching book that discusses one my favorite subjects… FAITH! When I finally closed the pages of the mini-book “Having Faith in Your Faith” by Kenneth E. Hagin and placed it on the bed stand, I paused while my eyes slowly pursued all the pictures of my lovely wife that I put up on the wall next to my bed. The pictures date from our pre-marriage days through 2005 when the visible signs of change in Piper’s physical features began to surface.
I realized a few years ago that it was very important for me to keep a vision of a normal healthy Piper before my eyes in order to dispel discouragement in the daily care and negative changes I could see happening in her. Those pictures on the wall next to my bed as well as the various framed portraits that hang throughout our home help me to keep a strong, faith-filled vision of what the Word of God tells me about Papa God’s will for her complete healing and recovery.
As I focused on all the fun times depicted in the pictures on the wall next to my bed, I couldn’t help but to find myself reviewing Piper’s and my life of over 47 years together. It also brought back the tremendously difficult times we encountered after we returned home to California after our three year stay in Oklahoma while I attended Bible College.
As the realities of the disease that we were facing began to come to light through the various doctor’s appointments, tests, scans and emergency room visits, I also found myself having to test almost everything that I had ever believed in my Christian walk. I have mentioned on various occasions of how Piper and I immediately committed this whole journey concerning the attack on her health to the care of the Lord by placing our trust in the truth of His Word at the first negative report we received while still living in Oklahoma.
What I didn’t expect though, was the testing we would receive once we returned home. I learned early on that I was going to have to depend on MY faith and not that of others in order to see this thing through to the finish that we are expecting. It was at that point that I had to decide if I really understood and believed all the tenants of my faith that I had learned and developed since becoming a Christian in the early 1970’s.
This realization was especially brought home when some individuals I expected comfort, agreement and strength from did not react as I had hoped that they would. With false accusations flying from some of these folks, many Christian friends telling me that I needed to follow their way in believing for a positive turn in Piper’s health, and others pulling away from us while looking depressed, fearful and discouraged, I saw the importance of knowing the strength of my own personal beliefs in the truth of God’s Word and of His unfailing, non-critical and grace-filled love for Piper and I.
So… what did I do? The only thing I KNEW to do! I upped the ante of the daily intake of God’s Word into our lives. In the face of all the different view-points, both positive and negative, that were flying at us from what seemed like all directions, I had to KNOW-THAT-I KNOW what Papa God says about our unique situation in his Word. I had to KNOW-THAT-I-KNOW that we were standing on THOSE PROMISES ALONE and the physical steps that He, in line with His Word, was telling us to follow along the way.*
Like I was telling Piper’s Hospice Social Worker a few days ago, this is why I believe the Lord told me early on that the best thing I could do for Piper (along with the physical care of her daily needs) was to saturate her in His Word. I was a little taken back, but yet emotionally thankful as she paused and told me that in her ten years of Hospice work that she could say without a doubt that if I hadn’t been giving Piper the care I do and been filling her with the Word that she was sure that Piper would not be with us right now!
Our now familiar scripture in Luke 2:18-19 tell us that “Everyone who heard the shepherd’s story was amazed. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (God’s Word ©/KJV) As I continued to study these verses this morning I realized that over these years since that first negative report back in the summer of 2007, that I have been steadily following Mary’s example!
You’ll notice that Luke 2:18 tell us that everyone on the scene that night in the stable behind the inn in Bethlehem was taken in by the story that the shepherds told them. Various translations tell us that these folks were amazed, astonished or struck with wonder. That makes me think of the different times that I have seen some incredible sights when hiking in the Sierras in north eastern California. Sometimes the panoramas that unfold before my eyes are simply breath-taking and I find myself amazed, astonished or filled with wonder. But you know, that feeling doesn’t always stay with me after we’ve packed up and returned to our daily routines back home.
Verse nineteen, on the other hand, describes Mary’s response to what was happening around her saying that she “kept” or other translations say “treasured” or “preserved” these things and “pondered” them in her heart. The word “kept” in the original languages means “To keep in mind, lest it be forgotten.” (Thayer’s) While “pondered” is defined as “to combine, to converse, consult and consider; the action of comparing and weighing the facts and to bring them together in your heart.” (Strong’s, Thayer’s and Vincent Word Studies)
Vincent's Word Studies goes on to say that the word “kept” means “not merely to guard but to keep,” and further explains that “the compound verb is very expressive in the present active tense.” Meaning that it was something that Mary thought about, considered and meditated on all the time… just like we should be doing by studying God’ Word on a daily basis.
I imagine that I keep pushing this point to you because of my on-going personal experience in having to really stand on my own faith in our daily stand for Piper’s health. For just as I keep those various reminders of a healthy, spunky and very confident wife before my eyes, I also have to keep an active and present-day reminder of the truth, power, faithfulness and love of God before my eyes!
That’s also one reason I have not put any current pictures of my lovely wife out there for public viewing these last few years. Not only does it hurt me to see the look of hopelessness on some people’s faces when they look upon her countenance right now but I also want people to remember her as she once was… and will be again!
So… what memories and or truths do you “keep” before your eyes on a daily basis? Do you regularly fill your mind and your heart with the encouraging promises found within the pages of your Bible? As for me and my family… It is the ONLY way to go! Have a wonderful rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What picture am I expecting to put into my head today?”
*(See: Lindsey Roberts article “You Have to Know What You Have.” http://oralroberts.com/uncategorized/you-have-to-know-what-you-have/)