“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe…” (Acts 2:42-43, NIV 1984).
Janet’s husband Robert texted me yesterday evening. Janet was not doing as well as she had been the week before. We had been treating her brain tumor with radiation and chemotherapy. Her brain edema had been managed with fairly small doses of dexamethasone. She had responded well and was bright and alert. For the past three days, however, she had been less alert, spoken less and would forget even simple and important things. I told Robert that this could be a sign of tumor progression and we needed to repeat her MRI to evaluate.
At 5 this morning I found another text from Janet’s husband, written the night before, “I just discovered that I had left the dexamethasone out of her pill box for the last three days. Aaagghh! I feel so terrible.”
Steroids are interesting drugs. Our body makes them normally and a small amount is required to keep our bodies going. Increased doses may be therapeutic, as in Janet’s case to reduce swelling. But with this therapeutic effect comes an anesthesia to the body’s own steroid making machinery. If you withdraw therapeutic steroids suddenly, you not only lose the therapeutic effect, you also leave the body with a stunned mechanism to supply normal steroids, thus producing horrible symptoms of fatigue and discomfort. Steroid withdrawal may feel worse than the disease for which the therapeutic steroids were started.
Just so with the spiritual disciplines, our “therapeutic spiritual steroids.”
We once were light and flimsy souls upheld by a superficial understanding of life and happiness. The legs of the table on which we stood had very little weight to bear.
“The disposition of the natural man, my claim to my right to myself, banks on things of which our Lord makes nothing: possessions, rights, self realization…”
We have now been made solid with Christ in us and no longer can be supported by flimsy suppositions. “My claim to my right to myself” will no longer hold me up should I depend again on its foundation for my support. As Christians, we now live with different aspirations and possess a different conscience; we have known a greater beauty in life. Our lives are more substantial than once they were.
Though Christ the Solid Rock will certainly not let us fall from grace, our energy and joy in life are supported in a major way by the spiritual disciplines. With our new weight of glory, should we withdraw from the disciplines of prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship and worship, we may find ourselves weakened and discouraged by the world, even more than those who still live superficial lives, supported by flimsy suppositions.
Thank you for making me solid. Let me discipline my life so that I may consistently realize the wonder of your love.