One can't unknowingly apply BENGAY, or some other topical analgesic, any more than he can unwittingly fly to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway. Even if what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, you know if you've been there. What in the world am I getting at? Good question.
Sunday we were headed to church, running late as usual, when a searing heat instantly developed along the nape of my neck and branched out below, spreading like tree roots. It felt exactly as if I'd smeared BENGAY underneath my hairline - it was that cooling sensation you receive on the surface accompanied by penetrating warmth. It wasn't painful, just burning and unusual.
"What would cause this?" I wondered to myself as we barrelled along. I soon told my husband Randy, who was driving, about the strange feeling. After a few more miles he asked if it was worsening. "Yes," I responded. It intensified in waves. At times it lessened but it never went completely away.
Unfortunately, the "new me," the post-cancer me, kicked in. That's the woman who is certain that a stomach ache is undetected cancer that the gastroenterologist should have caught during my maiden colonoscopy - not the result of consuming three slices of cheesecake.
If you've ever been diagnosed with cancer or some other illness, maybe you have a "new me" as well. Another example is the old me would get an occasional headache at the side of my temples - stress-induced, I'd assume, or from lack of water - but now I'm convinced that awakening brain tumors, once dormant, cause those same head pangs. I've had all kinds of scans and my brain is physically fine. It's irrational, I know.
When we finally arrive to church, speed walking across the parking lot in hopes of us all finding a seat, I ask Randy to slow down and smell the back of my collar.
"Do I smell like menthol?" I asked him.
The less irrational, still hopeful me, thought maybe I had worn the shirt before during a time I had applied some smelly pain relief cream to my neck, and that some of its residue remained in the top of my shirt.
"No," he offered, "I don't smell anything."
There went that theory. And now you know I sometimes hang previously worn clothes back into my closet to wear later.
The new me surmised, "I must have malignant tumors growing in my spine." I couldn't have a simple pinched nerve. No. That's what old me would have thought.
Nearly as soon as we sat down and Mass began, the burning sensation subsided. But my mind kept going. New me wouldn't let it go. Could I have developed spinal stenosis like my dad had? It's a condition that for him required surgery, a surgery that stole his life. My chest started tightening and it became harder to breathe.
Where is your trust? I questioned myself. That's my word for the year. I always thought I trusted the Lord and didn't know why that word would be one the Holy Spirit would give me for 2019. But did I?
As I sat there wringing my hands trying to calm my heart I knew I needed to keep my eyes on Christ. What if I did have cancerous tumors in my spine? In my brain? So what if I was developing spinal stenosis, a genetic condition. Was there anything I could do to stop any of it? No. Can I stop any of the evils in the world? Prevent harm from coming to my children? Can I remove all troubles (real or imagined) from my life or anyone else's? Not a chance. But can I trust in Jesus to walk with me, to be with me, to still use me for his glory? Yes. Can I still believe that there are joy-filled days ahead and all things work together for good?
In John 16:33 we read, "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Sometimes I think it's my job to overcome the world. How ridiculous, huh? We'd all be in a sinking ship if it were up to me to save the world from anything.
When the disciples were distressed over the rough seas bashing their ship, they cried out to Jesus, waking him. They all asked if he cared what was happening to them, they feared for their lives. Out of his compassion and with a few words, he quieted the storm - scripture says it became completely calm. Then he asked them why they were so afraid. I think he asks us that same question today when we face life's storms. Why are we afraid? Why do we worry? He is with us, in every circumstance, we have no need to fear.
Interestingly, in Rembrandt's painting of "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" he depicts the disciples in various states of being during the waves' fury. Some are doing their best to take matters into their own hands, attempting to control the boat. It's an impossible feat. One is heaving over the edge of the boat, undoubtedly feeling completely out of control in the precarious situation. The rest are looking to Jesus.
We have those same options in life's storms and uncertainties. We can try our best to take matters into our own hands, we can do nothing and let the situation control us, or we can look to the creator of the seas and all that's in them for wisdom and courage. We choose.
Recently I learned that Rembrandt painted himself in the scene. If you look closely, he's the one with one hand on his hat and the other on the rigging.
I would never knowingly place myself in the midst of a real storm, but when a storm finds me, I want to place my trust where it makes the most sense and will do the most good. Allowing my mind to conjure up and dwell on irrational thoughts only intensifies an imaginary storm. My goal, moving forward, is to place myself (and my trust) at the feet of Jesus - like the disciples - and like Rembrandt - where I know there is peace for my mind and soul.
" May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13
Funny, after sitting here to write this, my knee is beginning to ache. I think I'll retrieve the BENGAY tucked away in my nightstand.
John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us."
Ten or so years ago while working for a Christian radio station, I recall a pastor walking into my office (OK, cubicle) who had a radio show on our AM sister station. I was the morning show host on our FM signal at the time. His entire ministry centered on knowing and living out your identity in Christ. He was passionate in his calling and a likeable fellow that knew how to strike up engaging conversations.
I can't remember why, but for some reason he brought up the ministry of Joel Osteen. Personally, at that time I hadn't seen any of Osteen's televised messages, I hadn't read any of his books (though my husband owned one or two of them) and I wasn't at all familiar with his wife Victoria's ministry. All I knew, was rumor had it, he was a motivational speaker, and nothing more.
But this pastor-friend of mine went on to say, that while he didn't necessarily agree with the popular minister's method of presenting the gospel, he couldn't argue with the fact that his own mother had come to know Jesus and committed her life to Him through Osteen's on-air ministry. His mother was ill and pretty much confined to her bed, so while she couldn't attend a local church service, she could pick up her remote and tune in to Joel Osteen's broadcast from Houston each week. The Lord obviously used his weekly program to reach her.
"Every now and then, we all need a little cake," the local pastor standing next to me said.
I've never forgotten that statement. What he was saying, was Joel Osteen may not serve up meat and potatoes and a helping of broccoli which we need to survive, but he provided a message that we could all benefit from on occasion. And a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in need of a sizable slice of cake.
I was feeling discouraged over work and life in general. Yes, I have so much to be thankful for, but for some reason there seemed to be some nimbus clouds hanging over my head that I couldn't escape. Nothing really felt right and I needed a huge dose of encouragement. That's when I remembered Joel Osteen. If you're sick, you visit a doctor. If you're out of shape, you go to the gym. If you're discouraged, I figured why not check out Joel Osteen.
Thankfully, I have Sirius XM in my car (probably a no-no for a gal who worked in local radio) so I spun the dial until I found the Joel Osteen channel. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. His encouraging, positive, messages blew my nimbus clouds from overhead, replacing them with those nice puffy ones - cumulus, I think. I've been tuning in periodically ever since, whenever I find my spiritual blood sugar plummeting.
Maybe you, too, are feeling a little down, or your spiritual journey feels a little dry or stagnant. Maybe it's time to shake things up a bit. Seek out a women's retreat or conference, consider a new Bible study at your church, check out a Christian radio station you don't typically listen to, shell out a few dollars to attend a Christian concert with a friend. Do something slightly out of the ordinary...eat some cake. It won't be a permanent fix but the small change may help you see things with a fresh perspective that may ultimately help you get out of that slump.
We all need regular infusions of encouragement, and I believe it's available if you look for it. Cake, anyone?
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.