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2nd Cup of Coffee for 3/20/2020: GRACEFLOW

Nothing – no one – in God’s Universe can stand against His power when He chooses to act.

It was June 29th, 1997 when a verse from Isaiah pounced on my mind and spirit as never before. If you’ve attended church somewhere at all, you’re acquainted with chapter 26:3: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

That’s the way we all likely heard it quoted from the time we were kids, right? That’s the way we saw it on greeting cards of all subjects. It’s the way we saw it on, say, coffee cups.

Sound dry? Try it from a couple of recent translations.

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” (Christian Standard Bible)

“Perfect, absolute peace surrounds those
    whose imaginations are consumed with you;
    they confidently trust in you.” (The Passion Translation)

“Yeah? So?”

Fair question. Familiar verse, even for nonbelievers. What was the big deal, and why does June 29, 1997 stand out?

I had just managed to survive a series of three major surgeries from April 8 through April 22, removing all but four feet of my small intestine, and leaving me with the news I was never to be the same again.

When I first went back to where we’d been pastoring in Fredonia, Kansas, I could barely talk. The series of NG tubes had irritated my throat to the point I could manage only a rasping croak. It was then I made a life-changing choice. In the wee hours of one morning, I laid awake wondering what was happening to me and why.

I’ve sung my entire life. I remember singing ‘The Little Black Sheep’ and ‘A Christian Cowboy’ before I started school. Our family has always turned to singing and harmonizing together during times of life’s stress, and memorable moments. The thought that I may never sing again had been bullying me ever since I was released from the hospital on May 16, 1997.

Did I want to live without the music, without that outlet for all the emotions and internalizing all my life’s challenges? Big question. After being remarkably Jacob-like in my stubborn unwillingness to unclench my spirit on the issue, it was in those wee hours I made a decision to live from then on in the umbrella of Isaiah 26:3.

“God? I can’t handle this on my own. I’m weak in too many ways right now–so if I’m never able to sing or preach and teach again, it’s okay. I know You know where this is going, even if I don’t.”

I was remembering a two-in-the-morning encounter with God as I lay in a hospital bed, dying. I couldn’t sleep, so I was praying/thinking. The sicker you are, the simpler and more honest your praying becomes. All those ‘correct’ pastoral prayers dissipated like smoke through tree branches, and my prayer was

“God, everything in me reaches out for everything You are.” That was it. I admit to having had some gray moments since then, for the black and white of theology has been t-boned a few times by the crazy tints of reality. Yet I never have retracted that statement. I never will.

I had no idea what to expect, since I’d always been strong and healthy. Other than a bike wreck when I was ten, I’d never been seriously ill. I figured the best thing was to leave it all in God’s hands and let Him sort out what was best for me.

The slogging drudge of recuperating and caring for a still-healing wound that had thrice split my belly open from sternum to pubic bone seemed endless. But one thing stands out after all the trauma and seeming setbacks.

On June 29th of 1997, I sang in church for the first time since April 7th when, in the Fredonia Regional Hospital ER, a series of experiences began that are still in ways changing how I feel, think, and act.

“So what’d you sing?”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee / When the shadows come and darkness falls, He giveth inward peace / Oh, He is the only real resting place – He giveth perfect peace / Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

By the time I got done, I was exhausted. My wound was being held together by stay sutures (surgical tubing through which about 8-10 inches of suture material was run through so it couldn’t stick to the healing scar); I was weaker than I’d ever been; my clothes didn’t fit; my voice sounded like a garden rake being scraped across a metal roof; and overall I felt like an unmade bed.

I needed to do it. I got it done because of what I’ve termed “GraceFlow”: the unlimited Power of God flowing in and through me. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.

So where am I going with this? Simply that our nation is working through yet another calamitous time. Running scared solves nothing. Reacting almost always is worse than responding.

I’m suggesting you relax your white-knuckled grip on your emotions. Let go of it all, step back, and take time to seek your own GraceFlow. Look up instead of around you, and agree with Jehoshaphat: “I have no clue what to do, but my eyes are on You.”

Use the Word. In that same chapter of Isaiah, listen to v. 16: “Lord, they went to you in their distress; they poured out whispered prayers because your discipline fell on them . . .” (verse 20) “Go, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until the wrath has passed.”

Though ancient beliefs thought God was mad at them and was spanking them, I’m not saying God’s caused this virus. I am saying He has used and will continue to use things happening to us, or which we’ve brought on ourselves by various means, as teaching moments.

Be wise, be careful, and be at ease. God’s never relinquished His position, nor will He. Relax. Be at peace within and practice peace with all others. Have another cup of coffee. Above all, replace that wrinkle between your eyebrows with an expression of restfulness. Turn the corners of your mouth slightly up. That worried look just doesn’t work for you.

I read somewhere that patience with family is love; patience with others is respect; patience with self is confidence; and patience with God is faith.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2020