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9/17/06 (Sunday)

Sunday, September 17, 2006 

A day to sleep in and my internal clock refused to change the time.  I awoke about 6:00 anyway.  So I got up and showered and decided while the house was quiet to spend some time in God’s Word.  In my reading through the Scripture, I was ready to read 1 Peter.  This book had special meaning for me today, right here in San Lorenzo.   

1 Peter 1:3-7  3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

In verse 7 Peter stated that our faith is more precious than gold.  Peter’s words caught me.  My faith more precious than gold?  Gold is a metal that survives the refiner’s fire.  In fact, it even is purified by that fire.  Yet, gold too will perish.  It will eventually be worthless to us.  We can’t take it with us to our grave.  It is of no value there.  In view of eternity what value is gold?  Nothing!  But faith survives.  As you think about it, our faith is our most precious possession.  Yet, we treat it so lightly and even disregard its quality, meaning and even its work on our behalf. 

Our faith is what results in our salvation – spending eternity, forever, in the very presence of God. Gold cannot purchase our salvation.  Works cannot purchase our salvation.  The only price that can purchase our salvation is the blood of the spotless Lamb, Jesus Christ.  Jesus paid the price for me so I can live forever in the presence of God.  I did nothing to deserve this gift.  His love, His grace and His mercy drove Him to do this for me, for you.  He willingly paid the price for me.  If I accept this gift and believe this truth, I am filled with the joy of knowing I am forgiven, accepted and received with open arms.  This is the basis of my faith.  This causes my heart to overflow with hope as well as joy.  In spite of whatever circumstances I may experience, I rest in the overriding emotion of joy and the confidence and strength of hope.  For my treasure is my faith in Christ.  He stands beside me, walks with me and leads me on life’s path.  No one can take that joy and hope from me.  My faith is mine alone.  That is why it is so precious, more precious than gold.  No one can take it away or destroy it…unless I choose to let that happen. 

How does my faith express itself?  Do I willingly let it shine forth spreading like light across all surfaces?  Or do I hide it so no one can see that light?  My faith should be so solid and part of me that I need not explain it to anyone.  Yet, I must be ready to explain it whenever asked for these opportunities come all the time.  Seekers are always present.  They are being drawn to God and they need guidance from those who already have faith to assist in this process. 

Our faith needs to grow and continually be fed and strengthened.  The devil’s plan is to undo our faith, to rob us of that precious treasure.  He schemes and plans our demise.  He continually works to disarm us, to cause suspicion and doubt and to see us abandon our hope and confidence in Christ.  This very action is clearly described in the first couple chapters of the book of Job.  Here we are given a look through the window into God’s very throne room.  Satan is standing before God accusing Job and wanting to attack God’s servant to make him deny God.  Satan felt he could succeed.  God knew Job and the strength of his faith.  You know the rest of the story.  Faith prevailed even in the harshest of circumstances Satan could create for Job.  Satan prefers to keep us lost.  He promises glory and wealth and all sorts of satisfactions to our lusts but these are all lies.  Once he has you trapped he devours you and you are lost.   

Our faith in Christ must be continually enriched and supported by the food of God’s Word.  As life deals circumstances that challenge our faith, we learn how to be strong and how to resist the greater challenges that exist around the next turn.  We are called to resist the devil.  This, I have learned, is not something I can do alone.  Jesus is always with me and ready to encourage, support and strengthen me.  If I don’t acknowledge this and ignore Christ, He allows me to wander on my own.  That is when I am really weak.  At the time I may convince myself I am strong enough, but I have learned through many painful experiences that I truly am weak and defenseless without Christ.   

Peter describes Satan as a hungry, prowling lion seeking the weak and defenseless as his next meal.  Satan will do anything to catch us with our guard down and then he attacks and kills and eats.  Experiencing difficulties of life, suffering, pain, struggles, crises, and even prosperity, affluence and comfort are attacks on our faith.  They are all opportunities to either be maid stronger through the power and companionship of Christ or to be the next meal for the prowling lion.   

The choice is ours individually.  What opportunities do I choose?  Every problem is an opportunity.  Do I let this cause growth and strength or cause death and being lost?  This very opportunity presented itself Friday night when Jane read her email stating the anesthesiologist was not coming.  All our work could go up in smoke.  All those patients who were counting on surgery and who needed this help would be turned away.  Jane’s testimony to these people would be harmed.  The opportunity was there to despair and get angry.  Our hearts sunk and we had this feeling of the having no where to turn.  Yet, Jane reminded me that faith was not lost and all we could do was rest in God’s promise.  We felt we were here because God brought us here and that he would provide.  We prayed as that was the only thing we could do…praying and leaning totally on God to answer this need.  And He did!  In 24 hours we had not only one but two anesthesiologists coming to help and to give us the 6 days of coverage we need for all our surgeries.  Indeed, faith is the most precious possession we have, even more precious than gold! 

This morning while we were eating breakfast a bus stopped at our gate and some of our patients from the river arrived for their surgery tomorrow.  The traveled this morning and will be staying in the albergue (the post-op room) today.  We had filled Monday’s schedule with river patients.  These people would have had a very hard time understanding why after they made a long trip to get here they would have to return home without the surgery had we not had God’s provision of anesthesia coverage.  Any Christian testimony at that point would have been rejected by the very people who really need to hear this message.   

5:30 PM.  We had a lazy day just doing things here at the house.  Jane showed me her plans for the OR building and I think they will really enhance her ability to deliver good care here.  The building is a 2-story with the OR on the first floor and the consultation rooms on the second.  She has room for 8 consultation rooms which will really enhance her ability to have more than one physician here with her.  There will be room for the dentist, the eye clinic and the general medical doctor.  We went over the plans and I gave her some suggestions I learned from building our own office suites in the past.  We hope she can break ground for this building while I am here.  I could get some pictures of that event for Jane’s brother, Steve, so he can get the word out to the supports of this project as well as the supporters of LAMB.  These pictures would go on the website as well.   

Damarys left about mid day.  She is so supportive of Jane and the ministry here.  It is a great encouragement to Jane to have that level of support in the HCJB organization.   

I spent most of the day working with my pictures getting them all organized so I can better pull them up for email and presentations.  I put together a bunch of emails with pictures of Zapallo Grande work to send to the family.  I also got responses from Matt and Todd, my former partners, on the consult I sent to them via email.  They were able to look at the ultrasound and review the history and give me their opinion of what to do.  They agreed with me about the approach to this problem.  I plan to take pictures of the surgery to complete the loop on this.  It will be interesting to see just what this mass is and how we can take it out without destroying the uterus in the process.   

Jane printed out our surgery schedule for the week.  We have 30 cases scheduled.  Three hysterectomies are for cervical cancer.  There are 15, possibly 16, hysterectomies total.  There are 3 laparotomies for ovarian removal, 2 D&Cs, 2 tuboplasties, 1 gallbladder, 1 laparotomy for a uterine mass, and a couple vaginal procedures.  It will be a busy week but doable.  Each day has 5 major cases scheduled.  Saturday has 6 cases but they all are short. 

Tonight as we were eating our dinner, Phyllis called me on Jane’s cell phone.  Jane answered in Spanish and there was some confusion at first.  Jane didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID on her phone and thought it was someone from Esmeraldas.  I said that it could be Phyllis.  Jane then spoke in English and sure enough Phyllis was on the other end.  We talked for awhile and it was really good to hear her voice.  She has been staying at Darcy’s in Charleston, SC, for the past few days and tomorrow will head to Greenville, SC, to stay with Shelly and her kids for the next week while Shelly goes through orientation for her new job.  I am glad Phyllis is visiting the girls.  It gives her something to do while I am gone.   

It is approaching 9 pm and I am getting ready to go to bed.  I have spent a good part of the day organizing pictures and sending emails with pictures attached to much of the family.  I will not need to do this when I get home so it was time well spent.  We will start our day at 7 in the OR tomorrow and then have breakfast after the first case.  Our anesthesiologist will arrive around 7 to 7:30 and Jane wants to be there and be ready.  I agree and would like to get a good start on the day so we don’t work so late into the evening.  Five cases will take us most of the day and it will be good to be able to stop before bedtime.   

Thank You, Lord, for a good day today.  I was able to learn from you through the pen of Peter and also to relive some of the experiences in Zapallo Grande and enjoy once again the opportunity to help the people there.  I pray for your wisdom, guidance, strength and love for tomorrow.  Please guard our patients and protect them.  Allow us to not only help them physically but also to encourage them spiritually.  If these people don’t know you, allow us to at least plant the seed of knowledge and faith and even give us the opportunity to share Jesus Christ with them.  Lord, the faith these people can have in you is their most treasured possession.  I realize how valuable that is to me.  Please allow me to share that truth with someone else.  Thank You, Lord, for the help you have given us already as we have worked this past week in Zapallo Grande and here.  You have provided for us so richly and have blessed us beyond measure.  Thank You, Lord, for your incredible, unfailing love.  I pray now for a good night’s sleep and a clear mind in the morning as I help Jane with the surgeries.  Wrap your hands around our hands and guide us, Lord.  Give us the knowledge and wisdom we need to carry out the work before us.  Lord, this is all for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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