Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
On Tuesday, February 12, I made my yearly visit to my doctor. At this annual checkup I learned I was in good health. In fact, a number of years ago the doctor had some concerns about my blood sugar, but on February 12 my blood sugar reading was in the “normal” range. My blood pressure and cholesterol were also healthy. I was feeling pretty good when I arrived at the office, but the good news made me feel even better. As I talked with the doctor, I suggested that perhaps my hard work of watching my diet and exercising regularly was paying off.
So it was humbling when I went back to the doctor on Tuesday, February 19 and I was diagnosed with influenza A, a truly unwelcome diagnosis. After all, I had received a flu shot in early January. A week earlier I had been feeling so good about being healthy. But, when the flu hit what surprised me was how quickly I became ill, and how horrible I felt. There were body-aches and headaches. My cough caused my ribs to ache. My nose dripped and I had night sweats. My throat turned raspy and my voice croaked. Unfortunately, I was not the only one who contracted this ailment. My sickness hit after the annual Confirmation Retreat, and we know of at least six others who became sick at or after the retreat weekend. For someone who had been feeling so good about his health, my illness was a humbling blow.
On Tuesday, my doctor also informed me I would be contagious until Friday, or as long as I had symptoms. So, even though I usually keep going when I am ill, I stayed away from my Tuesday Kiwanis meeting and the Tuesday night Promise Keepers study. These folks did not want what I had. I did not attend Wednesday Lifelight Bible Class nor Confirmation Classes. These students did not want influence A. I asked around and Gerry Zellar led worship for me on Wednesday evening. Worship should be a place to share God’s love, not an opportunity to share contagious illness.
I had expected the flu symptoms to last for about a week. But, the doctor gave me a number of medicines. I took the medicine as directed and also took time to rest. In addition, many people also made a point to share that they were praying for me. By Wednesday evening I was feeling significantly better.
This short bout with the flu both humbled me, and gave me a thankful heart. To go from feeling so well one week, to feeling so badly just a week later, reminded me that health can be a fleeting gift. Yet, to go from being so ill one day, to beginning to feel better so quickly, led me to see again the merciful hand of God in the returning health I began to experience. Perhaps you have felt miserable, and then recovered health and strength. Because I had been ill I felt even more thankful for the health that returned. And knowing that God has His hand in all healing directed my heart in thanks toward God.
Psalm 103 gives a list of reasons to thank God.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Did you notice that one of God’s blessings is healing, however and whenever that healing occurs?!
Beginning next Wednesday many Christians will begin observing the season of Lent. One of the most famous prophecies about the suffering of Jesus is found in the well-known Isaiah Scripture about the coming Suffering Servant. This verse also talks about healing, another kind of healing.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
The return of my physical health worked grateful thankfulness in my heart. How much more thankful the children of God can be when the wounds of Jesus accomplish healing of our spiritual ailments which separate us from God. Jesus was crushed on the cross for our iniquity. The suffering and death of Jesus takes away our guilt and heals our rift with God. What a relief!
There are times I don’t realize how much a blessing my health is, until I become ill that is. The illness reminds and teaches me the gift and blessing we have in our health. But, we face an eternal, spiritual, illness in our guilt and sin. Thanks be to God that in the blood and the wounds of Jesus, we are healed!
A Child of God, Thankful for ALL of God’s Healing,
P.S. Kathy and I are on vacation.
· We attended the funeral of a friend in Jacksonville Beach on Saturday, and then drove home by way of the beach. Here are a couple of more pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/MjGEET5BnXBnQnaUA
· We visited my dad’s grave on Sunday, February 24, after worship. His plaque is now on his grave stone. Here are a couple of pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Uxj5MYsECyWzcdQbA
· I was able to go fishing with my sister’s husband, Mark Reaves, and niece KJ Fogarty on Wednesday. We fished on Orange Lake. (Margerie Kinnon Rawlings, writer of “The Yearling” lived on Orange Lake.) We saw wildlife, and everyone had at least one bite on their line, but we only caught one small fish. Here are some pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/eFh556g6LCD7yrHe6
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.