Less than a month ago I was waiting for test results to shed some
light on the pain and numbness I had been feeling. When Jeff asked
if I wanted to go canoeing with him and three guys from church, I
started to decline; I was beginning to withdraw from friends. It was
easier for me to stay home; canoeing and camping would make me dependent
on them. But with their reassurances and encouragement from my wife,
I decided to go along.
By evening of the third day, I start to "get it." As we
paddled in two days ago, I felt strangely at peace, no longer worried
about my limitations. With each stroke I was soon quietly singing
each line from the Doxology:
God from who all blessings flow (splash), Praise Him all creatures
here below (splash) Praise Him above ye heavenly host, (splash)
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (splash)"
the long list of blessings that God has given me I feel humbled,
but also loved. I am as sure of His presence and goodness as the
water laps on the rocks.
I've noticed joy starting to seep out in what I'm saying and doing.
Each meal has become a celebration of God's provision, and as Casey
noted, it now isn't complete until I have declared it "the
best camp meal I've ever had." Chores are opportunities to
serve my brothers in Christ; in the cold morning when I'm moving
slowly, to accept their service with joy and humility. Conversation
is a blessing and a comfort. None of this would have happened had
my friends accepted my initial refusal to come along.
I have finally been able to express this lesson to my friends: God
indeed loves me. I know He is good, He is powerful, and He could
heal me. Echoing Shadrach's words before being thrown into Nebuchadnezzar's
fiery furnace, "
and if not
" (see Daniel 3:16-18).
If it doesn't happen, I will still praise Him. For I see the extent
to which He has already healed me: through His Son, He has healed
my heart, my mind, and my soul. Even on a simple camping trip, He
is still healing me. I praise Him for what He has done already,
and as I've learned these last few days, I will gratefully accept
each day as a gift from His loving hands. "Praise God from
whom all blessings flow
Matthew Atkinson lives in Cottage Grove, MN with his wife Elspeth
and two girls. He works, volunteers with his church's children's
ministry, and is a Lay Counselor in his Congregational Care Ministry.