Friday, April 18, 2008

Adding to the Soundtrack of My Life (or Living Out Loud for Jesus)

Have you ever listened to a song on the radio or on a compact disc that really resonated with your present life circumstances? You know, one of those songs that you would choose to be on the soundtrack of your life if your life was made into a movie.

When I first heard Praise You in the Storm by Casting Crowns I knew it was one of those songs. I was not going through any fierce storms in my life at the time, nothing like I am going through now, but there is always weather that needs to be, for lack of a better word, weathered.

In my present circumstance, this song has taken on even greater significance.

Mark Hall, the lyricist, wrote:

For You are who You are, no matter where I am.

That line says a lot. My circumstances change. Sometimes things go well. Sometimes they do not. But God remains the same.

He also borrows from Psalm 121:1-2, a favorite passage for weathering storms:

I lift my eyes unto the hills; where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

What assurance we can find in these verses! We need only to lift our eyes above our present difficulties and see God. The Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is our help. He is our strength. He is our comfort.

Last night I had to meditate on these verses. I lost my focus temporarily. I got caught up in a sinful pattern of thinking. I told my wife that it was just too hard and I did not want to do this anymore. To add the accumulating side effects of chemotherapy to the pain and discomfort of recovering from major bone surgery is a lot to bear. (Well, only when I want to throw myself a little pity party. It is quite a light load when I think of the weight of my sin that Jesus Christ bore on the tree at Calvary.) In those moments, just before going to sleep, I began doubting God and His sufficiency. I began doubting that He is good. So I did the only thing we can do in those moments, I cried out to God and confessed my unbelief. I confessed my weakness. And I asked Him for strength and the ability to keep my focus on Him. Then I rehearsed Psalm 121:1-2 over and over in my head until I fell asleep.

As I said, this song really got my attention the first time I heard it. And I've always wondered what influenced the writer to pen these lyrics. What was his motivation?

A few days ago, I began reading a book called Lifestories by Mark Hall. In this book, he describes the background of many of his songs, including Praise You in the Storm. As it turns out, this song was inspired by a ten-year old girl's battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, a battle which she lost (on this side of Glory, anyway).

Mark writes of this Erin's faith, her love of Scripture, her sense of humor, and her ability to encourage others.

And he writes of her mother Laurie's faith and worship. He said she had the worship of Job. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21. She told Mark: A lot of times I do not like God's plan, but I accept it.

Mark writes that this experience reminded him that God is faithful, regardless of the circumstances. I was reminded that God is sovereign and I am not. We cannot control how long our lifesongs last [I love that imagery of our life as a song, no doubt inspired by Paul's use of the word poiema, meaning work of art or workmanship, in Ephesians 2:10. Michael Card uses this same imagery in a song called The Poem of Your Life.]. We can only control how loud we sing them. Little Erin lived out loud for Jesus.

May God grant us the courage to live out loud for Jesus.


NursePenny said...

Dear Mr. Bond,
We miss you and are praying for you!
You have always been a joy & an inspiration to us. We thank God for you and Praise Him for all that He is doing in your life. Keep on Keepin' on!! (a saying I borrowed from Pastor Graham)
Penny & Mandie

NursePenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me how the Lord is working through you, to help others. As I sit here crying because your words well they seem to come when I need them the most. Each one of your blogs seems to be speaking to me and teaching me things I need to learn in my life. Circumstances totally different than yours. I have an addiction to your Blog. I sit down and say OK Lord what am I going to learn today. Thank You from the deepest part of my heart. I am so very sorry you have to go through the physical pain, but I am learning a great deal from your experience.
Your sister in Christ

Anonymous said...

Hello, there, once more. I feel for you. I have been there. I went through seven weekly chemo treatments with radiation, 33 days of it. It was all to my pelvis. My blood counts went down after two weeks. I hurt and I was so tired. The last two weeks were the hardest of my life. I remember crying out to God, "Why me? Why now? Why this?" My one friend let me know it is perfetly OK to cry out to God like this. He can take it. And he did and he ended up comforting me through my friend. She was so wise and understanding.

Anyway, God loves you so much and feels each bit of pain you feel. He knows how hard this is. Just lean on him, Beg him for strength and support.

OK, practically, ask your doctor about pain medicine and anti-nausea medicine. I was on three anti-nausea medicines, but they worked. I took one that was for only three days, the first day of treatment and the following two days. It was very expensive, but it worked. It was called Emend. I took zofran two times a day as it did not make me tired, but I took prochlorper (generic) at night as it worked better, but it made me tired.

OK, I had extreme pain from tumor and the radiation. I had a fentenyl pain patch. Has the doctor ordered this for you? Again, it can make you nauseoua, but if you are on anti-nausea medication, you will not have a problem. There are different doses, and it can be changed every two days or three days. I also had vicodin for break through pain and I usually took one at night because of the pain of being in a bed.

What I really love about Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the way they work to make this experience as "normal" as they can. They make it easy to get help with a pain specialist as well as most of the doctors being very comfortable giving different prescriptions to help you out. PLEASE ask your doctor for more help in the pain management area as well as the nausea.

Since I had a simple procedure, I have had nerve damage from positioning. I had been off all pain medicine for a month about three months post treatment, Now I am on a nerve medicine while this nerve heals with the option of a pain pill if it hurts too badly. They worked to get the nerve medicine at the right dose for me so I no longer need the pain medicine. I want you to know that doctors can help in this area and work with you to fine tune the choices to fit your body.

Before my recurrence I NEVER used anything stronger than a tylenol or ibuprofen. Those were very rare circumstances. My body is super sensitive to drugs (hence the anti-nausea while taking pain medicine). However, I found that being comfortable made all the difference in getting through treatment. I was kinder to my family, I enjoyed reading to my son and helping him with his homework. I could sit and listen to my teenaged daughter as she chatted about her day. I could read some and just doze in the recliner, comfortably.

You need to get more help for side effects. It will help you make it through treatment. God will give you the strength and offer physical support through your health staff and friends. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! There is no need for excessive suffering. Please talk to your doctors.

May God bless you with support and help and finding joy in being with your family.

Clare Adams

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