Sunday, January 23, 2011

Old Stories - Noah

I started a new 365-day Bible reading plan at the first of the year. As you would expect, it starts at the beginning and ends at the end of the Bible. So, there I was starting in Genesis reading the old Bible stories that I have heard since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I have heard or read these stories so many times that I was wondering if I could really learn anything new. It did not take long for God to reach down and cuff me one with a resounding, "Yes!"

I was reading the story of Noah and the ark and how God had told Noah that He was going to destroy all living things on the face of the earth. God gave Noah instructions on how to build the ark and how many of each type of animal was to be brought on the ark. Then tucked in the story was this short verse:

“And Noah did all as God had commanded.”

It would take Noah 120 years to build the ark, but he did everything just as God had commanded. That is a long-term commitment to God’s plan. I know that I have a hard time doing what God commands for just a day or two. I have only been at this cancer-fighting thing for six months, and there are days that I get frustrated with the pace things are moving. Those are the days that I have to remind myself that God has a plan, and I have to stick with it.

Once the waters began to recede, Noah began sending out birds to see if the land was dry. Finally, a dove returned with an olive branch and gave Noah the assurance that the land was dry. However, Noah did not leave the ark. He waited for God to tell him it was time to leave the ark. I am pretty sure that after spending 120 years building, living with all of those animals, and enduring rain for forty days and nights, I couldn't have waited to get out of there. That is another failing of mine: I do not enjoy waiting but, slowly, God is teaching me.

These past few weeks there has been a consistent theme running through my life. From Noah to messages I have heard on television and radio, all of them have been about God’s will in your life and waiting. Sometimes it feels like God is only working when I see things happening, but I am beginning to learn that God is in the waiting, too.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Process

During the diagnosis phase, I started asking my pulmonologist some questions concerning what may lay ahead. He answered me with, “You have to understand that you have started a process. There are many steps that will have to be taken in order, and each will take time.” Of course, he was speaking from the medical perspective, but over the last few months, I have started to learn that this is also true from a spiritual perspective as well.

While I was recovering from the radiation treatments and preparing to begin chemo treatments, I completed my study of the Psalms. During this time, I became even more convinced that I will be healed from this cancer. This conviction lead to me ask the following question of God: "If you are going to heal me, why put me through radiation, chemo, and all of these tests and treatments? Why not just heal me now?” Then one morning when I woke up, the first thing to come to mind was Lazarus. That thought seemed out of place with what I had been reading, so I ignored it and pushed it out of my mind. I admit that I am not the sharpest tack in the box sometimes, but when it happened two more mornings, I finally took the hint and opened my Bible to the story of Lazarus in John 11 and 12.

The first thing that I noticed is that Jesus knew that the sickness would not end in death but for the glory of God and so that the Son of God would be glorified. Also, even though Jesus loved Lazarus, He waited to go to him. I, too, will wait so that the Son of God will be glorified in my healing. I will admit that I do not like waiting. I want this process to move faster than it is, but at each phase of my treatment, we learn something new that we would not have learned if we were moving faster.

The second thing I noticed is that Lazarus’ sisters asked a variation of my question to Jesus. “If you had come sooner, you could have healed him.” Jesus tries to explain to them about the resurrection and life, but when they and the crowds with them continue to weep, He sees their doubt and is deeply troubled. It strikes me that my question shows that I also have some doubt about God’s plan and the process He is putting me through. Sometimes doubt enters my thoughts, but I still maintain the faith in my heart. The one thing I do not want to do is grieve Jesus with my doubt.

The final thing that I noticed is that the chief priest started making plans to kill Lazarus. Why? Because he had become a witness for Jesus. Large crowds were gathering to see him. This part makes me smile a little. I like to imagine Lazarus being at dinner or out on the street and a large crowd gathers to look at him. Finally someone musters the courage to ask him, “Hey, aren’t you the Lazarus that died?” And he answers, “Yes, I am, and let me tell you what Jesus did for me.” This makes me look forward to the day that someone comes up to me and says, “Hey, aren’t you the Chris Haga who had lung cancer?” And I can answer, “Yes, I am, and let me tell you what Jesus did for me.”

Most of all, through all of this I am learning that God has a plan for the rest of my life, and He only reveals to me what I need to know for each day. It has become evident to me that part of the plan includes a process of refinement for me. The process is not pleasant and can be real uncomfortable at times, and I want it to move faster than it is, but I know when it is completed I will be a better witness for Jesus.

I awoke one morning with these words in my head: "To rush the process would be to ruin the process." So, I will wait, watch, listen, and pray to be ready when the process is complete in His timing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Like Gold in a Pig's Nose

For part of my Christmas, the boys dressed up my bike. They took my bike and put a set of Chad's Zipp racing wheels on it and thereby tripled the value of my bike. I have to admit that it looks pretty cool. I wish I could make it go as fast as it looks like it should go.

I had to take the photo because I know that the wheels will not stay on it. The bottom line is that putting these wheels on this bike is an insult to the wheels. This is the twenty-first century equivalent of putting a gold ring in a pig's nose. Anyone who knows anything about bicycles could tell you that these wheels do not belong on this bike. The combination of the wheels and bike are all show and no go.

After seeing my bike like this, I began to wonder what other parts of my life are being dressed up by things that don't belong there. I have long since given up making New Year's resolutions, but this year I have begun praying that God would show me the gold rings in this old pig's nose. It is time for them to go.