I haven't posted to my blog this past month, largely due to being somewhat setback by health concerns. These began during an extremely busy time and have ended with me having to stop and rest completely (not by choice). This kind of thing has happened to me in the past, and it's made me recall a wonderful verse from an oft-quoted passage, Psalm 23.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul."
As in the past, the Lord uses such times to show me things in my life I need to see, or hear things I've been unable or unwilling to hear. The most recent trial began with a health crisis my wife experienced over the Labor Day weekend. It lingered for the next 10 days as they put her through a barrage of tests. I was worried sick about her the entire time, but kept an outward posture of calm and care. Thankfully, the tests all came back normal, and the crisis has passed. She does have a health issue we're more aware of now but thankfully, it is not life threatening.
But after the storm passed, my blood pressure began to spike dangerously high. I've been taking meds for blood pressure for years, which normally keep it under control. But I was having the hardest time getting my system to calm down, and had to take another medication to help get it under control. It was even happening during my recent trip to the ACFW conference in St. Louis, causing me to miss out on several workshops I planned to attend. It continued to happen once I got home, and I've finally had to go on several days of bed rest to help it stabilize (I'm actually still resting for a few more days).
During this trial, I've had lots of time to wait on the Lord, and He's been very kind to show me some things I now clearly see have contributed to my blood pressure problem. It's about the way I think. I've realized I'm not yet in the habit of daily "setting my mind on the Spirit" (Rom 8:6), or even blocking the unhealthy, destructive thoughts of the enemy (the "fiery darts" as Paul calls them in Eph 6:16).
I'm already in the habit of having a pretty decent quiet time each morning. But in idle moments of the day, my mind often drifts into thinking about negative "what if" questions about the future and, occasionally, equally negative "if only" reflections of the past. The one breeds worry and fear, the other sadness and regret. These are destructive, unhealthy emotions. They don't lead to the abundant life Jesus died to give me. The Lord has made me realize I must do a better job of putting the "full armor of God" on each day, and then keeping my mind "stayed on Him" throughout the day (Isa 26:3).
As I pondered these things in my quiet time this morning, I opened a devotional I often read (and heartily recommend), Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry for today was so timely, it felt almost as if the Lord was speaking it audibly to me. I won't repeat the entire thing here (not sure I can with copyright concerns), but I'll share one part that I found so helpful. Sarah writes as if the Lord were speaking first-person:
"I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do. Don't be distracted by future concerns. Leave them to Me. Each day is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today. Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the time line into tomorrow's worries or past regrets. Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not living it to the full."
And, I've discovered during this time when the Lord has "made me lie down," failing to grasp this kind offer to let the Lord be our Keeper and Good Shepherd can actually be hazardous to your health.