Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"I'm Not Dead Yet!"

LODGED by Robert Frost

The rain to the wind said,
'You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

Have you ever felt "lodged?" Have your circumstances in life ever made you feel as though you just can't take any more stress? Do you know how those flowers felt? I do. I have just been through the most stressful year, so far, of my life. During it we have sold almost all our possessions, moved from North Carolina, traveled and visited family for a month and a half, attended an intense seven-week training, said goodbye to family (thinking it was for three years,) moved overseas, began learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture, lived in a very difficult place, discovered a tumor on my son's neck, packed everything and moved back to the U.S., and endured nearly three months of chemo with an eight-year-old. Now we are in the follow-up stage, with no certainty of our future plans. Then over the last two days my father has had a couple of heart attacks, and had to have a blockage fixed in a coronary artery.

I took three different "stress analysis" tests online, and scored in the "HIGH STRESS" category on all three. Of course, two of those tests turned out to be very slickly designed ads--one for anti-depression medication, the other for time-management tools--but the third was at a health/medical website that didn't seem to have any agenda. I already know I'm stressed. But here's the thing: what do I do about it? Should I sit around worrying and fretting? I like Frost's poem because the flowers are lying there lodged, but NOT DEAD. They have not given up. It reminds me of the scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where they are loading all the dead bodies (of plague vicitms) on a cart so they can haul them away and burn them, and one old man says "I'm not dead yet!...in fact, I think I'd like to go for a walk!" In the movie one of the body-haulers beans him over the head with a board, and they carry him away. Pardon my morbid sense of humor, but I always think that's funny. Likewise, in "The Princess Bride" Westley spends a whole day "mostly dead" and is brought back to life by the power of his true love for Buttercup. He never gives up! Even when he is mostly paralyzed, he perseveres.

Now, I know movie illustrations are only good if you've seen the movie, so I'll desist from using any more of them. What, then, is the true love that brings us all back from the dead, or "mostly dead?" What keeps us going when life is pushing and pelting us? Are we wallowing in self-pity or learning from our suffering? Are we giving up or persevering? A passage of Scripture that has taken on deeper meaning for me is 2 Corinthians 4:1-12:
4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
This encourages me because what it tells me is this: we have been called to share the gospel with others. Somehow all of our trials and stress will show that all the glory, honor, and power are God's and not ours. And along the way, we are sharing in Christ's sufferings, learning to walk more closely with Him, feeling just a tiny bit of what He went through here on earth, so that we can later share in His eternal life. How amazing is our great God!
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, ifwe do not give up. Galatians 6:9
So, I'm not dead yet. In fact, I think I'd like to go for a walk...


Eric said...


Don't give up. God will reveal to us in due time just what He desires for us to do.

In the mean time, let's keep running the race.


Anonymous said...

Oh, man. I love that poem.

Can I join you on your walk?



Alice C. said...

Eric: I love you and I love the fact that we are running this race together. I thank God for you every day.

Kersten: I wish you could join me on a walk! You're pretty far away, though!

chandra said...

Alice, thank you for being honest in this post. ( Well, I know you are always honest but you know what I mean.) I would give you a great big hug if I could. I just want to tell you, even though you feel stressed, you have STILL been an inspiration to me. Your faith is amazing to me and has been just the example I have needed in the last few months. Thank you for letting God's light shine brightly even when you don't feel like shining. And...hey, let's walk that walk together!! Love ya!

Alice C. said...

Hey Chandra: I think you are already walking the walk with me, friend. I thank God for you. You have helped so much over the last few months! I love you.

ciaobabe said...

That reminds me of the walks we used to have together. Thanks for this post as I have been meditating on what place stress should have in the christian's life. This has encouraged me and cleared things up a bit.

Alice C. said...

Hi, Renata: I miss our walks...remember when Joseph was a baby and kept taking off his hat and throwing it on the ground? It's incredible that it was so long ago already...Glad I could encourage you!

paintballboya4 said...

hey come check out my blog i got a play list and the snake pics. on there

Alice C. said...

OKAY Aaron! I'll check out your blog, but here's a friendly reminder: only standard English allowed on my blog! :) This isn't text messaging on here--it's actual writing.

I like you blog, though.

When I can read it...

Alice C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.