Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Wednesday, February 23

Comfort in the Psalms

I have been full of hatred and bitterness over the whole thing, really angry with the people at the old church. And feeling unhappy and sinful and ‘away from God’ because of those feelings. Not wanting to pray. Not wanting to read scripture.

I resolved I had to make steps back towards God.

I tried to pray, but my mind wandered and I found myself cursing the old church people again. So I picked up the Bible and said

“Lord, I’m not going to read this as a holy horoscope, sticking a pin in to find your word for today. I’m going to read it as normal day-to-day bread and butter, to nourish my soul and build my strength and faith”. I then found myself reading that psalm about the rivers of Babylon. It was good – about trying to worship God in exile. Just how I felt. But it ends with dashing your enemies children against the rocks – and even I don’t feel THAT angry!

I looked at the next page and read psalm 143. Which I can’t remember here (I’m at the office and I’m supposed to be writing a design statement – but since I’ve finished that I don’t feel too guilty this time) but the gist of it falls into three themes: (1) Worshipping God in difficult times (2) seeking guidance for the path ahead and (3) vengeance on enemies. These are the three areas where I am struggling at present, and I was reading in a different version from usual. And God really spoke to me through it. I was not looking for God’s word – as I have shown above. But it came.

He relates to me in my current wilderness. He knows I want to know the future. And he knows that while I am not seeking retributive vengeance I am angry, hurt, upset. It was as if he was saying “Yes, I know. You’re allowed to feel like that. I even wrote a psalm specially for times like this”

I’m not explaining this very well. But I was comforted. I was able to let go of some things. The guilt about my feelings in particular. But I was also able to let go of some of the issues, placing them in the hand of a God who knows, and who cares, and who is fair (ultimately if not in the short term).

So I feel I have turned a corner. It’s still cloudy but I can see blue sky on the horizon. I have started to listen to Christian CDs again. I may even reach a stage where I feel I can minister again – while I felt I was in sin I could not do this. Of course there are no current opportunities to minister, but I don’t feel excluded from ministry by sin anymore.

Where am I up to regarding church?

We have continued attending the church in the next town, and have managed to have our meeting with the vicar there.

He seemed to understand where we were coming from, and seemed to be a very fatherly figure, which is what my wife needs and was sadly lacking at the old church.

I had to attend on my own last Sunday, as she was so ill. My son come out of the Sunday School buzzing again – “They didn’t do this at the old church!” he says. The crèche was abysmal. The lady on the rota had forgotten it was her turn, and had not prepared the usual talk and was doing it all off the cuff. The usual families were away, but there was an influx of visitors for a dedication. My daughter pushed one of their kids over and made a scene. I couldn’t leave her in there and go back to the service this time. The others were all locals who knew each other and left me out of the conversation. So I was wondering just why I had bothered coming at all. But it was worth it for the sake of my son. And also, the liturgy for the dedication was very good, and it seems that while they will do an infant baptism if required by the church rules, they will steer away form it if they can and go for a more scriptural believer’s baptism (which can of course still be administered to children and families). So it was worth noting that too.

It’s a good church. It’s just impractical, being in another town. Mrs could hardly be involved in the children’s work there as she was at the old church. There she used to just walk five minutes, now it would be catching the hourly bus service for a half hour ride, followed by a taxi trip. And she would not be meeting the mums shopping in the town as she did for the old church. It’s really hard to see how it will work, or why God has lead us to this church.

Rheumatoid arthitis flare-up

It’s nearly a month since I blogged.

Option A – nothing happened worth talking about
Option B – it has been too hectic to write.

It’s B.

Mrs has been having a massive flare-up of her rheumatoid arthritis. She has got to the stage where she needs help to get out of a chair, and sometimes help to walk across a room. She has taken to using disabled toilets, which are higher, in case she can’t get off a normal one. She has been sleeping badly at night, wracked with pain. So she ahs stayed in bed most of the day instead.

This is not good, when you have a two and a half year old toddler in the house. So I have had to stay off work. Two days a week she is in the nursery. Apart form that I have to stay off work or go in late. Over the last month I have been doing about 3.5 days a week of work. Which means losing 1.5 days pay each week. And annoying the bosses by not being available for meetings. I don’t think it has delayed the project yet, but it may come to that and then I will not be flavour of the month!

Mrs had a routine appointment with the specialist on 22nd Feb., but had been trying to get in earlier for a steroid injection, to get her back on her feet as soon as possible. She had been told that because the specialist had been on holiday, there was now a queue of both urgent and routine cases, and she was unlikely to get in. But last Friday th9ngs came to a head at home, with me being off work again and her being in a lot of pain. We managed to push into the queue, and got seen that afternoon.

The steroid injection had very little effect, which was partly expected: she has needed boosters before. So she had the booster at her routine appointment yesterday, and they say she may need another booster this Friday. Not encouraging. But she did manage to go to the loo three times last night – so maybe it is starting to work.

They are proposing to change her medication. She seems to have become immune to the sulfasalazine, so they are planning to try her with one of two anti-TMF drugs. These are expensive (£10,000) so in the English National Health System they will only put you on it if you have tried two other drugs unsuccessfully (in her case this is methotrexate and suphsalazine) and the specialist has to get authorisation from the Primary Care Trust for each case. So that will take a month.

These new drugs are injected, so I will have to learn how to do injections. The only practical difference between the drugs is the frequency of injection (weekly v fortnightly) so I expect she will choose the fortnightly one.

So today things are very bad, but the future does seem a bit brighter.