TWO STEPS FORWARD… One Sideways
The Passenger’s Log Stardate 20 May 2022
The Passenger hasn’t written for awhile so that means you, the reader, the crewmates, or shipmates deserve to be caught up to speed. As the Passenger, I have tried to keep these posts real, what it’s really like to go through this. There is always a desire to not sugar-coat everything but not to be so downcast that you lose your audience. Particularly when they are your prayer support team.
EXPECTATIONS, kind of like the 1971 Carly Simon hit, ‘Anticipation’ they both come with up and down sides. Meeting expectations of others while going through this ‘process’ is almost as impossible as meeting one’s own expectations of oneself. I have learned that as much as I cannot meet other’s expectations for how I should be or feel or act as I go through this, I cannot meet my own. Maybe what I need to do is determine what my expectations for me should be and worry less about meeting others’. Maybe I should base the expectations I place on me on God’s Word and just leave it there. Jesus made a striking comment recorded by Matthew in his gospel. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34 NLT) That is an amazing comment. Today’s trouble is enough for today. You know the ill-advised adage that God will only give you what you can handle? Well, first of all He gives you more than you can handle but He doesn’t expect you to carry it alone.
First, He provided the church… ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens’ you may recall that passage written by the Apostle Paul when he was giving the church in Galatia wise words to live by. This one fully reads, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:6 ESV) The law of Christ what is that? Mark records Jesus response to a question as to the which is the greatest commandment. His reply, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-32) Secondly, but really primarily, He is there, Christ, Himself, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father. Have you ever thought it would be good to have The Avengers come to your rescue someday? You have the three most fierce, powerful, and loving avengers you could seek.
So each day has enough worry of its own, enough trouble. Get through today, live for today; deal with what comes at you today. We will get to tomorrow when it gets here. That is what Christ expects from us. We are to deal with today, to love God and to care for each other. There is no need, no scriptural decree to worry myself down the road with all the what ifs and whether or not this will lead to a ’premature’ death. If one wants to really define premature death, visit a children’s hospital. I’ve lived almost 65 years, that isn’t exactly premature. So enough about what may come, could come, should or should not come. The Passenger will work more diligently to focus on living through today.
An instructor of mine through the FBI once defined stress as the gap between expectations and reality. If I see the ‘reality’ as gloom and doom then I’m miserable and so is everyone else around me. I have been guilty of that. If my expectations are too high then a single follow-up visit with the doctor can put me into a tailspin. That happened a little bit at my last visit. My goal then is to keep my expectations real. Someone once bumper sticker theologized, “Expect nothing out of life and people and you’ll never be disappointed!” (unknown) That is going just a bit far and doesn’t fit what Christ said. Christ knew we would have to deal with trouble often on a regular basis, but do it one day at a time.
This photo taken Thursday, May 12, 2022, shows a black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way black hole is called “Sagittarius A” near the border of the Sagittarius and Scorpio constellations. It is four times more massive than our sun. The image was made by eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration AP) (emphasis added)
A black hole 8 times bigger than the sun. The radius of the sun is 432,350 miles and its perimeter is 864,938 miles. To make that easier to understand, about 1.3 million earths could fit inside the sun. (All this data supplied by www.space.com) That means that over 10 million earths could fit inside this black hole. Should space travel for private citizens become commonplace, this black hole will NOT be on the must see places. As the GENESIS two-seven continues its space travel with me as The Passenger, it sometimes feels like we have entered this black hole. Darkness and nothingness is a feeling that sometimes feels too close to want to stay more than a moment. There can be a compelling inward pull of spaces like the black hole which beckon us on the bad days and they entice us toward their centers. A gravity force field is deployed by the Captain of the Genesis two-seven and for awhile we are at this edge of this massive hole, protected by our forcefield. In real life, such protection from entering the blackness often comes in the face, the smile, the encouragement of one you love most dearly. The Captain suggests we look only briefly into the dark hole for to stare too long one may see his own face staring back. Sad, but true, many are pulled into the dark abyss and few live to tell what they found. ‘The danger,’ the Captain explains, ‘is not always from knowing the black hole exists or even venturing to see what it looks like. Rather, the danger is finding that the black hole is within us and NOT a mysterious object found by telescopes millions of miles away. The Sagittarius A star is 26,000 light years from earth. For you math people, that is 26 trillion miles (13 zeroes) from earth.
God spoke through Isaiah the prophet and said, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV) That thought was continued by Christ before returning to heaven. He told His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) If I can adopt what I have just said into a recipe for living life, then everything will be okay, even when it isn’t.
A report from the doctor tells me that my lung capacity has improved up to normal levels at 87%. Hurrah! However, my LPT or Lung Performance Test has dropped 10 points in a very short time to 64%. The LPT measures the ability of the lungs to bring oxygen to the red blood cells and to take away the toxic CO2 from the spent cells. Allow me to explain the issue. You like race cars? My current condition is like having a 1955 Chrysler C-300 equipped with dual Carter WCFB four-barrel carburetors and rated at 300 hp (220 kW) engine. That is my 87% lung capacity. The issue is that my 1955 Chrysler C-300 is not hooked up to either the transmission or the exhaust system. It cannot make the car move and it cannot remove the spent issues of combustion’s waste products, CO. More frequent use of the nebulizer which provides oxygen to me at a constant rate helps to offset some of those issues and allows me to maintain. The use of Ofev, the new, very expensive specialty medicine is to help slow the progression of the disease. So the ability to delay the most serious of issues and to not have any of the most harrowing side-effects is also a very good thing. We now know the baseline is 64% LPT going into the Ofev use. We will watch to see if the future LPT’s will show a slow in the decline, a halt, basically, of the decline or something else. That test is a couple of months down the road. To worry about those results now is definitely borrowing trouble from tomorrow and that shall not be the rule! (shant is preferred over shall not in Hillbilly – just trying to keep you culturally educated)
Finally, it is critical to remember in all things that God is in control and He is the Great Physician. The Passenger wrote in previous ‘Voyages’ that my faith is in His healing. I have prayed for and actively taken steps to bring my need for healing before Him. I have no doubt that God knows every feeling, every change in my lungs and the stresses from the disease, from the medicines as well as social aspects. I fully believe that God will heal in His perfect timing. Had you asked me two days ago if I felt that way, I can tell you my response would have been colored by reactions to the doctor visit and other stresses at that time. In those moments, all I could think about was the negative. A clearer mind and more rational thought reminds me of God’s sovereignty and I will continue to put my trust there. “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24 NJKV)
To every crew and shipmate, I offer my “undying” gratitude – which is a better frame of mind than my “dying gratitude” That’s a joke son, a joke, don’t ya know – Foghorn Leghorn Seriously, I covet your prayers particularly for those closest to me as they are the ones who bear the brunt of my bad humor, the changes in behavior and the desire for space, the rollercoaster of emotions (with thanks to the pharmaceuticals), and the stress of so many unknowns which I have not yet fully given to God! There is little I can offer except apologies for actions I would choose normally not to take and thanks for grace and understanding as days progress.
With you from the galley of the Starship Genesis two-seven, The Passenger.