Saturday, February 21, 2009


I woke up yesterday with a stiff neck and a mild headache. My husband was in an automobile accident, but I had whiplash!

No, I wasn't with him when a car cut across his path without looking. I was suffering from the jolt of an unexpected slice of life careening across my path. In the larger scale of life's journey, where recent illness had detoured and delayed our plans, we thought we were again traveling smoothly. Even in the short run of a day trip, I was on the road to success. Following an itinerary that had been mapped out since the night before, I was almost home (literally as well as figuratively).

The phone call alerting me to the accident transported me into high efficiency mode. Shut down computer. Drive husband to the doctor. Begin discussing immediately the logistics of a the days when we would be sharing a car. Express genuine thanksgiving there were no serious injuries. I felt great, all things considered. In retrospect I was in shock.

The day after the accident, I was shaken up. I felt bruised by life. In the aftermath, I was tense and exceptionally cautious. But even whiplash won't keep me off the road to Kingdom adventure. This most recent setback reminds me of one of my favorite Scripture passages, "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the field and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exalt in the Lord. I will rejoice in the god of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18

The unexpected happens. Even the unpleasant. For a moment we respond to the impact. But no real damage has taken place. The One who cannot be shaken still stands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Correct Diagnosis

Crippling symptoms appeared uninvited. Without so much as a token 'with your permission', they took up unwelcome residence in my husband's body. In response to his best efforts to evict them, they remained entrenched and claimed possession with remarkable tenacity.

He sought help. Three doctors listened, poked, prodded, drew blood, ran tests and drew tentative conclusions. The symptoms were obvious; the cause was obscure. Finally, by a process of elimination, the source was announced and appropriate treatment began. Handfuls of pills. Adaptive therapy. Weeks of waiting. No progress. The symptoms remained as invasive as ever.

The expertise of a fourth doctor produced our first ray of hope. A quick diagnosis, a short procedure and a new type of therapy began the slow process of letting him reclaim use of his body.

Correct diagnosis is everything. This is as true for my soul as it was for his body.

I am often crippled by bad behavior. I am led astray by unwelcome thoughts. I trip over my own intolerance. In response I reach blindly for the latest 'how to' book. I make lists. I journal. I join accountability groups. Much of it is done in a manipulative effort to produce a more Christ-like image in me. Disappointment dogs my days as my efforts fail to bring about lasting change.

I too often focus on the symptoms and not the root cause of my own behavior. I may deny it by blaming circumstances or other people. I may excuse it as a personality quirk. I may pin it on God who has allowed it to surface in my life. But these incorrect diagnoses leave me unhealed and in continuing pain.

For a correct diagnosis, I have to seek the counsel of the Great Physician. It is he who recognizes pride and self-sufficiency and who knows I suffer from failure to love or to forgive. Only he provides much sought relief. 'He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!' (Psa 103:3-5).

Although I regret the days I remained immobilized by a faulty diagnosis, I rejoice that the only true diagnostician offers 24/7 office hours.

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Acquired Taste

Titling my blog Sunrise might seem an odd choice. People who knew me in my early years suspected my most authentic encounters with the dawn came through literary descriptions. They might have been right.

I wasn't always an early riser. I might be genetically predisposed to staying up very late and compensating the next morning. Or maybe I learned peculiar habits early in life. In regard to sleeping habits, I came from mixed heritage. My father went to bed early and was never seen after 9 pm except on those rare occasions when he appeared in his too short pajamas to scare away poor young men who had lost track of curfew at my house. My mother on the other hand preferred to sleep until ten am and regularly began her housework after my father was asleep.

I'm not sure what would have become of me if I hadn't married into a family who believed early to bed and early to rise should have been the eleventh commandment. My husband faced early morning as if he really loved it, and since I loved him, I tried to tolerate it as well. The more often I awakened early, the better I liked it. I concluded watching the sun rise might be an acquired taste.

I began a love affair with those early hours when they took on personal spiritual significance. A significant phase in my spiritual growth was heralded by a recurring phrase in my head, "Your light will break forth like the dawn." After a morning when I sat in total darkness and watched day dawn over the Gulf of Mexico, I understood more clearly the work God was beginning in my life. It was truly the dawn of a new day for me.

As I progressed in my spiritual journey, I no longer awoke early out of duty. Increasingly I was awakened by a hunger to spend time in the Word. Those early hours took on added significance as I concluded along with Isaiah "He awakens me morning by morning! He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple (50:4)." It helps to know that Jesus also sought time with his Father in the early hours. In Luke 4:42, it says 'And when day came, He departed and went to a lonely place' and spent time in prayer.

But while sunrise is a great time to spend in prayer, it is more than just a time of day. Sunrise is what Zacharias used to describe Jesus as he prayed following the birth of his son John who was the forerunner of Christ. He prophesied, "Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death."

Sunrise then is more than a great way to start the day. It is more than the quiet hours for getting in tune with the Fathers heart. Sunrise is the very person of Jesus who is the theme of my life. My prayer is that the blogs I post will reflect him and spread his light.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Blog of One's Own

For a woman in the early years of the 20th century, the literary path required 'money and a room of her own.' At least that was the opinion of Virginia Woolf. Well, Virginia, times have changed. A woman in the 21st century who aspires to write need only have a laptop and a blog of her own. Who needs a room when corner coffee shops offer such conducive environments. As for money, if you can purchase the latte (required for securing a seat and for staying awake), you have all the money you need.

With a serious blog of my own, I hope to re-establish some credibility. After the unfortunate incident a few years ago, my son issued a warning to his friends, "Be ware. My mother is running loose in the blogosphere!" So much for trying to add a personal counseling touch to an online discussion between Duke University professionals. (Sigh) I might have avoided the web forever except for the encouragement of a friend.

With her persistance I now have a blog of my own. Whether or not I write something worth reading remains to be seen. Who knows? Perhaps in a few months people will add my blog to the "must check regulary list." On the other hand, they may be echoing my son's sentiments, "Help! Bettejean is loose in the blogosphere."