Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Insignificant

When I woke up in the hospital, Earl told me about my accident and that I was on a ventilator. Paralyzed from my neck down, I couldn’t move. I could see a black ring around my forehead and what looked like two bolts sticking out. “What?”

“It’s a halo brace. You have four screws in your head,” He leaned toward me touching them two at a time and said, “These two in your forehead and one behind each ear. They hold the black ring you see in place and four bars connect the circle to a leather vest. It’s to keep your neck still so the broken bones can fuse.”

Though I had no pain, we called it my “crown of thorns.’”

After wearing it three months, a doctor came into my room and said, “Your x-rays show the bones in your neck are fused so I’m going to take your brace off.” When she loosened the bars and the vest, muscle spasms shot through my neck in searing stabs that felt like heated daggers. She put a cervical collar around my neck but I still had to lay back in my wheelchair to let the headrest support my head.

As the doctor prepared to remove the screws, she assured me it wouldn’t hurt. When she began unscrewing the screw from my behind my right ear, several strands of my hair tangled around it.

Unable to speak, I had difficulty communicating my distress and my hair began tearing from my scalp. When I got the doctor’s attention, she cut the remaining hair.

A young Christian, I couldn’t understand why God had allowed this to happen to me. I had recently accepted His forgiveness for a sinful past and was daily growing stronger in faith. As I sat in tears, God reminded me it was Good Friday.

Traditionally the day Jesus’ Crown of Thorns pierced His brow – mine was removed.

When I see the scars in my forehead, I remember Christ’s sufferings and how He gave me a new life filled with love and joy, grace and blessing. I live for Him wherever I am.

My crown of thorns was insignificant. His Crown of Thorns was my healing.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV).

In Christ,

Berta
 
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SnapShots: Devotions from Life

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Begged God


I remember the first person I saw in a wheelchair. I was at the doctor’s office for my kindergarten physical. Who was in the wheelchair? My doctor. He’d had Polio as a child. 



Then, there was Dale, a young man who slobbered and walked funny. He taught me to dance the two-step. He had Cerebral Palsy. At the time, I didn't know the diseases nor did I know they were disabled. They were my friends.

In seventeen years as a nurse, I saw a multitude of persons with physical disabilities. Some had accepted their disability and functioned well in society, like my childhood friends. Others hadn't. They were angry and depressed.

In 1991, an automobile accident injured my spinal cord paralyzing me from my shoulders down. Three months into an ICU stay, my neurosurgeon spoke to Earl. “Mr. Dickerson, she’ll be bedridden, ventilator-dependent and have brain damage. You're too young to be saddled with an invalid wife. We can let her die comfortably.”

Earl remembered his wedding vows, “…in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live.” Earl chose life for me and arranged my transfer to a spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Once stable, off the ventilator, and using a power wheelchair I went to the gym for therapy. My neighbors and I sat in wheelchairs and struggled to feed ourselves. We encouraged each other. I fit in.

Back home no one was like me. Strangers and friends patted my shoulder and called me a “poor thing.” Many stared, ignored, yelled or treated me as a child. I became angry and depressed.

I begged God to heal my spinal cord injury or at least my hands. Nothing. I turned to God’s Word through Bible study and read about Paul’s “thorn in his flesh”.

God’s call for me is to be Christ-centered and bold in my faith as I share what He has done for me. My disability continues but I am a healed child of God first and forever for “By His Stripes, We are Healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Henri J. M. Nouwen described this type of ministry in his book, “The Wounded Healer.” Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine at Asbury Seminary, and author of “Wounds That Heal,” told me, “His wounds have healed you. Now He's using your wounds to heal others.”

“‘I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me’” (2 Corinthians 7-10 NIV).

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Enrich Your Faith


Every night as Earl and I prepare for bed, Earl places my Bi-PAP mask over my nose to help me breathe oxygen-rich air as I sleep. When he lays down he positions his C-PAP mask over his nose and turns the machine on to help him breathe deep and oxygenate his blood.

All our lives we have inhaled and exhaled with hardly a thought—taking breathing for granted. With these therapeutic measures, we’ve discovered afresh how oxygen truly sustains our body. Without it, our minds become confused and disoriented. Our bodies weak and tired.

When I take deep refreshing breaths to fill my lungs with oxygen-rich air I feel the strength return in my body and my mind clears.

This is often the way we relate to God. It’s easy to take the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, for granted. Shallow Bible reading and irregular Bible study allow our Christian faith to become lethargic and our relationship with the Lord wanes.

Sometimes we need “therapeutic measures” to enrich our faith. Most Christian churches have a multitude of faith-enriching activities. Whether you like large or small, young- middle- adult- or seniors, men’s or women’s Bible study groups they’re all available. Local, national and international mission opportunities abound for growing stronger in our faith.

You can read daily devotionals or follow a Bible reading plan. Read, watch or listen to stories of Christian faith, tribulation and triumph. Recently I watched a video of Billy Graham preaching in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1970. The era and location was different but God’s word is unchanged.

By actively pursuing ways to enrich our faith, we awaken each morning fresh and energized—ready to share the gospel.

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12 NIV).

In Christ,
Berta

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