Keep Your Hands On the Wheel!

… those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.   (Isaiah 40:31)

Theme: God Has a Plan

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Topic:  Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL!

I was driving down the highway one sunny afternoon this week, heading into ‘town’ when words I almost heard in an audible voice inside the car said, “Keep your hands on the wheel.’  I was jolted into my instinct to move quickly to practice situational awareness skills learned through the course of career, ministry and family life.

I quickly glanced at the speedometer, thinking maybe I was a bit heavy-footed on the gas pedal. But no, I was within the limit.  Next, I checked the traffic behind me in my rear-view mirror. All was well. There was very little traffic in front of me. 

At that moment, I recalled Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus Take the Wheel.’ But the words that came to me in the car were more instructional in tone.  “Keep your hands on the wheel.’  

I had a lot to do that afternoon and didn’t have a lot of time to analyze the instruction, so I quickly prayed, “Jesus take the wheel if I have taken it out of your hands and help me to understand how and why I am to keep my hands on the wheel also.”    

The story is told in Matthew 14 of  Peter the Apostle and the other disciples being asked by Jesus to go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. Meanwhile, he would go up the mountainside in the dark of night, to pray and join them later. The disciples were a considerable distance from shore when a storm arose on the lake. Here is the biblical account of what happened next.

25 Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear27, But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I.  Don’t be afraid.28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.  31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:25-31 (NIV)

How do I detect His invisible hand on the wheel?

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he told us in the scriptures that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to speak to us and be his representative on the earth. The Holy Spirit role as Comforter is to help and guide us in many ways – there really are no limits! God said, “Be still and know that I am God.”  So the Holy Spirit works on behalf of the Godhead to fulfill the plan that God has for the universe and all that is in it. He knows no limits. So as we live our lives, we can trust that he may choose to use our ideas, thoughts, conscience, experiences, songs, words, situations, animals, objects, and nature. He is a loving God who knows who we are and how He needs to connect to us.  We can further be assured that it is his hand on the wheel because if we ask him to take the wheel, he will. God is a giver of life. 

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13, 14 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Should I just take my hands off altogether and let Jesus take the wheel Himself?

Ultimate trust in God/Jesus/Holy Spirit does not negate the necessity of an active partnership with God and His plan for our lives. With Jesus at the wheel, I am secure in the plan set out for me.  But as in any relationship that is going anywhere, there is no room for passivity by one party. Relationships require the ongoing work of those who are in it.  I am going to let him have the wheel but place my hands on the wheel over His thus sharing in a more excellent relationship than I have ever known. I can be confident knowing that He’s got me covered.  I hope you will consider doing the same.

HEALTH UPDATE:

Believe that Prayer Works!

Your prayers are effective!  Prayers and petitions on my behalf must have gone up to God in record numbers because after 10 days – everything I had been experiencing left my body, soul, and spirit.  It has ONLY been through the faithfulness of your prayers, cards in the mail, meals, encouraging text messages, emails, (and email ‘hugs’) and all the ways you express God’s love!  Thank you, everyone! I cannot express in words my gratitude! I am overwhelmed!

The Onset of a Mental Battle (July 30-Aug 8)

A mental battle ensues when you feel that you have lost control. Had I taken over the wheel without realizing it? Maybe I hadn’t given the wheel in the first place? Thoughts of despair consumed me as I considered what had befallen me. I felt like a good day would never come again. I felt abandoned and couldn’t pull myself out of the mental slough I was in. 

Though I am ‘on the other side’ of what I encountered in those 10 days, I have come to realize that I need a plan to be better prepared for future mental battles.  I went into the fight, thinking I had enough in my toolkit. I didn’t. So I took the challenge as an opportunity to create a list of steps that I could commit to practice. I then asked Marlo to review the list, comment on the ordering of steps and add to, change or delete any steps.  Finally, I asked that he help keep me accountable if he saw I was falling out of step. 

You will see the results of our work together in the section titled “HOW TO COMBAT AND WIN A MENTAL BATTLE” (below).

Praise Report:

    • answered prayer to the mental/spiritual battle that I was facing
    • vitals and blood counts are great
    • very few effects of chemotherapy for the past 7 days so I have enjoyed a near-normal lifestyle
    • uncontrolled weight loss was a concern, but that seems to have leveled off after getting some good advice and support from the dietician
    • fluid buildup in my abdomen has slowed down 90% due to the positive effect of the chemotherapy on this issue
    • communication issues within the medical team are improving

My Greatest Challenge

I am going to lose my hair sometime very soon.  My hair is thinning now, but I am going to live with it as long as I can. Then I will move to the back-up plan which I have in place.  All women deal with hair loss differently, but it is no less difficult for each one. I was told to expect to cry when it happens, and I know I will. 

A ‘Tip” to Help Someone Navigate Hair Loss

Though others can do a better job of offering tips, I offer some that I anticipate will help me navigate hair loss. People mean well when trying to cheer you up and will say, “Oh, well, it will grow back.”  That is true. Or “Look at Marlo – you and he can share the experience!” But what a person losing their hair is going through is the anticipation followed by the experience of loss. Loss hurts in any form. Here are a couple of ideas I had.

    • Acknowledge the loss first, (which is what that person is feeling in the moment. The person will be more receptive to hear what you have to say next.  That is when it might be appropriate to say, “Oh, well, at least it will grow back!” Instead, try offering a simple gesture of silent support by a nod of empathy or hug, and when the headpiece (wig) is obviously in place, a simple affirmation of a great choice of hairstyle! You might even say, “Hey, you wear that style and colour well.”
    • On a cap, scarf or toque you could say, “What a great fashion choice in a hat or toque!” 
    • When the hair does grow back, then celebrate the new look by offering your compliment on the new colour, (sometimes the colour is different than it was before) or style.

In the end, you will have been right. The hair will have grown back!  But there will be two winners – both of you!

HOW TO COMBAT AND WIN A MENTAL BATTLE

1. Awareness:   I’ve lost my way. 

Talk to God and tell him how you feel – in words you use in your day-to-day conversations. 

“I feel abandoned by you, God.  I’m so angry right now! I feel defeated. Where have you been? I need your help, and it seems that now when I need you more than ever. You have deserted me. I can’t manage this on my own.”  

“If you don’t help me now, I’m undone.  I have lost my way.”  Being honest with God is the best policy.

The chorus in Carrie Underwood’s’ song, “Jesus Take the Wheel” says, “Jesus take the wheel, take it from my hands. Cause I can’t do this on my own.”

2. Believe:   I choose to believe that you, God, can help me through this.

“I believe that you feel my pain and that I do matter to you, that you are standing ready to help me, and that you do have a plan for me to get through this battle. I choose to believe the words of Jeremiah 29:11 where it says, 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

3. Confess:  Repair the Breach – Offer Thanks

“I am sorry for thinking that you were absent and that I didn’t matter to you.  But you have shown me that you just wanted the wheel back and me to trust you by placing my hands over yours. I thought you had deserted me, and now I realized that my actions were disrespectful towards you. I had lost faith in your ability to handle what I was facing.  When those in whom I was putting my hope and trust were not there for me, I thought you had left me, too. I felt alone. I am asking that you forgive me for my lack of faith and trust in you. I took over, and it didn’t work out well for me. I need you. I’m ready to begin again. Thank you for all you have done! I do praise and thank you for forgiving me!”

4. Focus on Health for Body, Soul, and Spirit

Health is an action word.  Rest, refresh, exercise the body, mind, and spirit. The health of one sustains and supports the other. 

A. Body:

I. Exercise

“I feel like taking it easy today.  I don’t feel like getting out there, but I will take one step in front of the other and start.  Instead of walking my daily goal … today, I will double it. I will move around and keep active. I take pleasure in having to step up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator when I go to the hospital. I know that I feel vibrant and alive when I am doing what I can to strengthen my body.  I love it when I can walk as fast as I ever did and use my muscles for tasks that gave me such great upper body strength! (That’s an inside joke among family and some friends).”

II. Diet

I will eat the best foods to sustain my body today.  I know I need healthy proteins, calories, and nutrient-packed foods. I will follow the great information from the dietician as well as study and read articles about how I can prepare my body for the surgery that awaits me. I am happy that I can take an active role in the responsibility to improve my outcome for a successful recovery.   I want to exceed expectations. I will do what I can to achieve that!

B. Soul

I. Mind

I will exercise my mind with positive and insightful books, blogs and articles, great discussions and conversations with people, listening to the personal stories and wisdom of others, engage the mind with thoughts and ideas that I have to work through to discern for truth. 

II. Emotions (Here I offer further guidance to the issue of reconciliation addressed in Update #4 – The Reality Factor.)

I will support my emotional health by evaluating relationships in my life, asking the question, “Am I forgiving properly?” Do I need to make more amends? Do I need to allow a conversation to take place that should have taken place long ago?  Is this the right time?

Long suppressed feelings have a way of rising to the surface during a difficult illness such as this … it’s an opportune time to deal with them.  It is both responsible and considerate to think of the other person. They might find great relief and healing if you try to make amends, but on the other hand, if not handled wisely, it could cause further injury or pain to you and the other person. Sensitivity and discernment are required. 

But like a shipwreck buried in the ocean, there are treasures deep inside just waiting to be uncovered. The important thing is that you and the others involved must be active treasure seekers.  The reward is only found by those willing to seek and find the treasure! It’s OK if you’re the only one who finds the joy of that reward. This is about finishing your story – in a way that brings glory to God. The other person is responsible for their own story.

2 Corinthians 3:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

III. Will

I will submit to changes God wants to build in my life. I choose to read His Word as it is His way to transform me into the person He’s called me to be.  I choose to agree (rather than fight) the plan that unfolds by His design. I choose to believe that He has a good plan for me that I may not fully understand but that I can trust Him.

C. Spirit:  Affirm Truth: Be Accountable

I will spend time in daily communion with God by prayer and reading His word. 

Think, write, speak, sing, dance, and celebrate words that affirm the personal truths that will help you move forward.  Only you know what they are as they relate to your own life and story.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

5. Be Accountable to Someone

Find someone that you can confide in that will stand with you and hold you accountable to what you know you need to do – but only after you have done all the work in the steps listed above.  You are responsible for finishing your story.  Others can mentor and guide you along the way, but you are responsible for writing your own story. Let Jesus take the wheel but place your hand over his.  He can overwrite your pain with hope and glory! There is a purpose for all that you’ve had to experience in this life and it is found in His ultimate plan! It is there that your personal story meets with His invisible hand.

Post-Script:

As I continue to write my story – I am learning new things that are building on the content to the previous updates. I think that is God’s way of writing my story.  I don’t generally start writing this updates until the week it is due. So, thank you for being patient to me as I add new insights as I go along. I give God credit. The ideas are coming as I turn the wheel over to Him. That is how it is going to work from now on.