He looked at me, said I wasn't at all ready and said he wanted the concussion clinic to make the decision about when and how quickly I return to work.
He signed me off for 3 more weeks. I was gutted. Up to now, in 15 years of work, I doubt I've totalled 4 weeks off sick. By the end of this 3 week period I'll have topped 7 consecutive weeks.
I expressed my dismay to work colleagues and friends - their response has been encouraging and realistic. "Embrace" this time and "make the most of".
My thoughts are mostly about what would God have me do in this time. Rest is clear - I need to rest to recover. But is there more to this rest? What more is there? Ps 23 comes to me again and has me thinking a lot (in a restful way though).
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With
that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Belief is not a nebulous idea, and inexpressible or incomprehensible experience. Belief is in Jesus. The rock solid, life and death and rising from death (never to die again) man of flesh and blood who was also the eternal, never created, never ceasing, One and Only Son of God. Belief is the 'throwing in your lot', the total 'resting of your weight', entrusting your hopes, fears, ambitions and dreams in Jesus. It is an active surrender to Him. Anything less is not 'belief in' but a knowing about even an 'interest in' or 'investigation in' Jesus but do not amount to 'belief in'. Only 'belief in' Jesus amounts to life transforming relationship toward the destination of eternal life.
Belief in inevitably leads to 'speaking of' - a life transformed is a life full of WORDS about Jesus. You don't need to be an extrovert to believe in Jesus, but to believe in Him means that this belief will be expressed in words. Jesus believers don't just say anything but almost anything they do say speaks of Him - directly or indirectly. Their words won't be crafty (seeking to trick people) but they will be crafted - pointing to who Jesus is and what he is like, putting Him in plain sight. Much has been said of using words only when necessary - here, God's Word says speaking of Jesus is always necessary but only if you believe in him. I wonder if the former, in this context, is evidence of the latter.
Believing in and speaking of Jesus happen in the context of Living for Him. Living for in the sense of 'toward'. We who belive in Jesus are living toward a New Day. We are heading toward Him - and our words, our lives, are to ring with this truth. A time is coming when we will not live by a hope of seeing Him, but we will see Him who is our Hope. So we live FOR that day - there is an eternity to come, but right now we are living for that Day - when the beginning of the unfolding of God's great plan for all eternity will be embraced by all who now await on it's threshold; straining on tip toes, as though in a great crowd, eagerly anticipating it's arrival. Living FOR Jesus in this way is no easy ride - it is painful, a loss of much that the world's cultures treasure, abandoning the pretence of self-determination and the 'rights' of the age. Living for Jesus often feels like an outward wasting away, a death to self, a loss of the things that were once valued. Those who do not know Jesus reject Him as offering a life of dullness But IT IS LIFE IN ALL ITS FULLNESS.
It is, despite some pretty fierce internal NZ prejudice, a brilliant city to live in. I love living in Auckland - L O V E it!
But Auckland as a city has some deep poverty issues. There are large sections of South Auckland where families struggle to make ends meet. There are sections of the city where safety is a real issue. The biggest and least obvious poverty is spiritual need. It is striking on the campuses of the city.
Where there is 'spiritual' stuff happening it is most often self-centred and self-seeking; idolatrous and shallow but for the most part students are apathetic, disinterested, scornful and mocking of spiritual life.
It does not suprise me that Auckland is 1st, 5th and 10th in scales of all that our contemporary western world values and treasures. It doesn't suprise me because where riches abound spiritual poverty is most obvious...
21"One thing you lack," [Jesus] said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God." 26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"
27Jesus looked at them and said, "With human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
28Then Peter spoke up, "We have left everything to follow you!"
29"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10.21-30
Adam has spent the last 3 years working in Lithuania (about which he has a very interesting blog); his time there is drawing to an end. There is much that I could write which would embarrass Adam, not only high jinx but high praise. So let me write a little and hope that his embarrassment will not be too great. His first trip to Lithuania was my last one before heading to NZ. That trip had been set up before the decision to come to work with TSCF was even on the horizon; I'd been exploring the possibility of going to work with LKSB in Lithuania. Adam came along for the ride with 2 other Relay Workers. Working in Lithuania was not on his horizon at that point.
That weekend in Lithuania I saw Adam work extraordinarily well with the students and staff of LKSB. In the final couple of days, with the encouragement of the the LKSB staff, I asked Adam if he would consider Lithuania as a possibility for the next step of life and ministry. I knew full well he was considering working in an 'hard to access' nation in Asia. He took the invite to consider seriously and eventually took it up as a formal application under the UCCF Relay Homestart programme.
Adam has done a stunning job, bearing well the lows and thriving in the highs of Lithuanian life and ministry. He has so got to grips with a difficult language that he can preach in it and, as he moves back to the UK, will find a Lithuanian mission field on his doorstep – he is even speaking at a Christian holiday made up mostly of Lithuanians in October. I rate Adam highly. He wrote this week and spoke of what God has done in and through him. It made me intensely proud to have been a small part of Adam's life and work in Lithuania – I'm excited to see how and where God will use Adam as he returns to the UK.
One of the things that Adam makes mention of in his recent letter is some financial hardship for the staff in Lithuania. If you are reading this, why not take the opportunity to invest in a small part of God's work in Northern Europe and give – either a one off gift or for the next 12 months, 2 years or longer… you never know what a small investment can grow into until you venture out try… You can give to the work in Lithuania (and elsewhere around the world) HERE
Until recently concussion hadn't ever struck me (pardon the pun) as something too serious. This was largely due to ignorance (and inexperience). Concussion is serious business. "We can fix most parts of the body, but the brain we can't repair" said the consultant who saw me in hospital.
The small bruise in the subcortical white matter of the left frontal lobe is the cause/result of my current injury. The brain being incredibly complex produces acutely vague or bizzare answers from medics. "white matter looks like fresh yoghurt rather than the mouldy yoghurt appearance of grey matter"!!!
They're doing their best but there is so much that is unknown at the moment about brain structure and function. This is why brain injury is so frustrating and perplexing. How do you rest a brain? Someone suggest I think boring thoughts! How do you let your brain recuperate when you can't immobilize it or give it crutches?
Last night we noticed on the news that it is soon to be Brain Injury Awareness week – so I'm doing my bit. As someone who is currently brain injured I'm inviting you to be aware (and therefore cautious) and be thankful for your functioning brain!
*I'm allowed to use the computer for 15 minutes at a time at the moment. Blogging gives me something to do to keep my bruised brain active!