“Get depressed?” my doctor’s assistant asked me last week. “Sometimes,” I answered. Were they afraid I’d commit suicide by chocolate-eating-orgy? No, it was for the government or insurance or something. But, yes, I do get depressed. And sometimes the darkness just won’t lift.
I’m confessing this because I’d like you to know me better and to know why my blogging is sporadic.
I’ve had back troubles for about eight years (I’m 72). I’ve had two open back surgeries, plus tons of tests and piles of pills. Not long ago, doctors finally settled on a diagnosis: primary lateral sclerosis. It’s a chronic, incurable neurological disease that causes a slowly progressive weakness in voluntary muscle movement in the legs, arms and face. The speed and extent of the progression differs from person to person. Along with the weakness in my legs and, to a lesser extent in my arms, is an ache in my legs, back and lately neck with changing intensity. I need a walker to get around. I planned to enter our county’s annual walker race recently, but it happened to fall on one of my weaker days. Knowing I’d be lapped by a 91 year old grandmother, I stayed home. (Just kidding.)
Almost two years ago, PLS compelled me to retire from pastoring. I still loved what I was doing, but I was treading water (figuratively) and it wasn’t fair to the church to have 48% of a pastor. (That percentage is quite accurate; I did much research study.) After 24 years at this church and 44 years in all, retirement brought a huge change-of-life for me. I laugh, because one church member encouraged Lois (my wife) and me to take it easy and do some traveling. The biggest trip I take these days, though, is down my driveway to the mailbox. I haven’t been able to find a suitable postcard about it to send to my friends.
Blogging has become my means of ministry. (I’m sure God invented the Internet for bigger reasons, but I’m thankful to be plugged in!) However, my physical condition prevents me from writing more regularly. I wish I could do one blog a day. But there are times it takes me two or three days to write one.
Depression hits when I let myself get under the weight of it all. I lay in bed with my (mostly) sound mind thinking of all the things I can do and write. Then I get up and my body becomes my enemy. Of course I’ve prayed. Many have prayed. But God’s answer has been to give grace in my weakness instead of healing from it. (My condition is far less harsh than Job’s, but there are days I think he and I could have gotten along quite well. )
Of course the promise of eternal life in a new righteous creation gives me hope. Problem is, I’m the kind of guy who prefers pictures before I go to a new place. Instead God has given only the highly symbolic Book of Revelation word-picture. I content myself with the new creation being “more than I can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20); however I’d still like to be in better shape in this old creation. So I keep praying for healing, though, I have to admit, not with any great expectation. (Please don’t tell anyone I said that.)
My wife and children and grandchildren have been great in their understanding and care. Yet even that’s hard, since I’m used to being a doer, not a receiver.
Well, I don’t want to rain on your parade any more today. Just wanted you to know me a bit better and to understand my blogging inconsistency. I appreciate so much that you read what I write. I sincerely pray daily that the Lord will use it in your life to cause you to know him better and love him more.
I appreciate your prayers for me. And I will pray for you. If you’d like me to pray about a specific need, just reply to a blog. I won’t publish any prayer request you send; but I will pray. That will be a much-appreciated expansion of my ministry at this time in my life.
Thank you for the privilege of ministering to you through my writing. I thank God for the opportunity, and I thank him for you. May his Word continue to teach us all, and reprove and correct us, and train us in right-living, so we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Grateful for His covenant love and infinite wisdom