My posting on Grace Dependent has become very intermittent and almost non-existent. This is due to a battle I have been waging with Chronic Pain due to disc deterioration in my L3/L4/L5/S1. I am scheduled for surgery on October 25. I have already had one Spinal Fusion surgery two years ago: S1/L5 were fused. This time around they will take out the “old” hardware and replace it with new, along with the addition of definite fusion L5/L4 and probable fusion of L4/L3. I would appreciate your prayers during this time.
What have I been doing with my time? Well, almost all ministry outlets have been handed off to gracious co-pastors and volunteer staff. I still teach in a Young Marrieds class on Sunday a.m., and am writing a devotional for our teens in our church. All counseling has been diverted to others. I still enjoy one appointment a week with a young man, and close friend. We are studying Acts and encouraging one another in our pursuit of Jesus Christ. That leaves “a lot” of time each week. A great majority of that time is consumed with unrelenting pain and the struggle to find some sort of position that provides relief. When possible I read. I’ve also just begun to listen to audiobooks more frequently due to the “lack of mobility” required. I pray. I think a lot. Two nights ago I spent a considerable time meditating and thinking about stepping out of this life and into the next. I wondered what the transition was like. I am not suicidal at this point (I had been several weeks ago at which point I sought help both through a physician and counselor friend). So, in the time I’ve been given to ease my workload, I am striving to fill with a theology of suffering. I am learning so much. Some of it is encouraging and some of it is frightening. But I will endure. I am going to FINISH whatever God has for me.
Surgery won’t be the end of the race. In some respects that is when the real hard work begins. Not only will I have to recover from surgery, but I will have to strengthen my entire body over the next several months. I have grown very weak in the last year due to this chronic pain. I will have to detox from my heavy hitting pain killers and other meds. I am a little concerned about this process having gone through it two years ago. It is much like a heroin addicts withdrawal. And there really isn’t an easy way to do it. But God is gracious and I will be able to do what he has called me to do. I will then begin to transition back into more ministry. How I miss preaching! One of the great cruelties of chronic pain is that it wrenches away the very things one holds most dear. I want to share some of what I am learning with my congregation (my family as I think of them). I am also attempting lifestyle changes that will support and aid the healing process. These are massive paradigm shifts in my life.
And so, I will not be posting as often as I’d like. I do appreciate your reading this simple blog. Your comments, encouragements, prayers and thoughts have, in addition to the Comforter’s ministry, blessed me beyond words. I ask you to check in from time to time and see what I may have posted. Add this blog to your RSS reader if you haven’t already; or, subscribe via email.
Below are some pictures of what a Spinal Fusion looks like (taken from my surgeon’s office and spine model). It’s rather horrific when you think about it – but it also is a grace of God given to us in this day. Thank you for reading, God bless.