Jan's Personal Journal
July 9, 2007
Lenny has been in the VA hospital in Fayetteville, AR, for the past 10 days. They have been running tests and monitoring his heart to see what was causing it to throw type one and two heart blocks. At first, I drove back and forth from home to the hospital every day (66 miles one way), but the Lord provided the funds for me to stay at a motel in Fayetteville, which was a great help.
When I left the VA hospital Sunday afternoon, heading back to the motel where I've been staying, I was feeling really blue. Lenny had been sick at his stomach and they had put the portable heart monitor back on him. I have been trying not to give in to negative emotions, but they crowded in, beginning to overwhelm me. My theory about these situations is that there will be plenty of time later to freak out and have a "hissy fit," if it is justified, but to do it prematurely won't do me any good. Emotional outbursts cause the heart rate to increase, the blood pressure to go up; the adrenal glands dump adrenaline into the blood stream; the liver pours glycogen into the blood stream, all in preparation for fight or flight.
Struggling to keep my feelings in check, I was dismayed to find out that they didn't have the room at the motel made up for me. The oppressive heat and humidity pressed in as I walked over to the laundry room to ask which maid was responsible for cleaning room 118. The little Mexican gal explained that the room wasn't to be made up until 3:00 (it was then 1:45), but she said she'd go ask the maid to come over ahead of time and clean the room.
I sat in the car and watched the two tiny women who came to make up the room. Both were Mexican; neither could have weighed over 100 pounds. They went through the room like a "dose of salts" as my grandmother would say, and it hit me forcefully that I have nothing to feel sorry for myself about. These women are doing hard labor, maybe illegals, maybe not. I didn't care about that at the time, just overcome with pity for their life style. When they finished I gave them each three dollars, as it was all the cash I could spare at the moment, and told them in Spanish how much I appreciated their efforts. Their gratitude for my pittance moved me more than their diligent efforts to quickly get the room ready.
I came into the room, cranked up the A/C and fell into bed thinking now about how very blessed my life has been. Then the horrible thought occurred to me that I probably hadn't properly appreciated the privileged life I've had because at some unconscious level, I probably thought I deserved it. I don't remember thinking that, but it's a logical conclusion from the years I spent living by "law." I was a straight "A" student all through school, and had worked very hard in whatever job I had done, be it teaching school or selling real estate.
The next awful thought came to me that this is probably how the rich man felt about why he had so much and Lazarus had nothing but sores. The wealthy man no doubt thought that this wretched beggar deserved to be poor and starving, covered with sores, because he was lazy and didn't work. He had to beg, but if he would only get a job, he could have bettered himself. This is usually how people of means look at those without. If the poor would just apply themselves, they wouldn't be in their deprived situation.
If you look at the story found in Luke 16, there is no reason given why Lazarus ended up in Abraham's bosom and the rich man did not, unless being rich is a sin and being poor is the ticket to paradise, which clearly is scripturally insupportable. J. Preston Eby has done a masterful job of showing that this story is the last in a series of parables Jesus gave to show how woefully inadequate was the religion of the Pharisees. Eby suggests that the purple and fine linen with which the rich man was clothed speaks of the Judaic priesthood. This parable comes after the one about the unrighteous steward who was stealing money from his master and about to be fired from his job.
Jesus' parables about money and corruption were aimed at the Pharisees: "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight" (Luke 16:14-15). The Pharisees highly valued their religious works, done to be seen by men, and Jesus lost no opportunity to expose them for the frauds they really were. I sadly fear that in terms of how I sometimes view people, I may have a touch of the "religious flu" which plagued the legalistic hot shots of Jesus' time. Not to worry, it is not catching and it is completely curable by the Great Physician.
Lenny got a new roommate in his hospital room yesterday, and just the sight of him made me want to leave the room. He has long, greasy hair, an unkempt beard, and a raspy voice which made me think he'd had more than his share of cigarettes, whiskey, and wild, wild women. He immediately began to tell me about his physical woes. I listened as patiently as I could until he got to the horror story about being brought to consciousness during an open heart surgery because his heart was beating 300 beats a minute and when he came to, he looked down and saw his chest cracked open and the heart beating inside.
I said, "Please, let's change the subject. I faint at the sight of blood or at hearing the gory details of operations." He said he was sorry and Lenny and I left the room, which suddenly seemed very crowded. Lenny is far more patient and loving than I am in certain situations, and he gently reminded me that the man is a human being in need of help. It was after that when I began to think again about the rich man and Lazarus, and how it is that God looks on the heart, NOT on the outward appearance of everyone and anyone.
When I called Lenny from the motel, he told me that it turns out that the man is a Christian. His mother attends a church in Oklahoma where Lenny and I attended once when John Gavazzoni was speaking. That really put the frosting on the cake for me about the dangers of judging people by the way they look.
Californians are not nearly so judgmental as those here in the Bible Belt, which is why I enjoyed living in California so much. Maybe this is why the Lord told Lenny not to cut his hair, which he now wears in a pony tail. It certainly constipates the religious folk who think hair should be worn decently and in order.
For every uncomfortable thing that happens in our lives, there is a manifestation of God's grace. Thursday afternoon (July 12th), when I was driving home to Neosho from the hospital, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain began to fall, slowing traffic to 35 miles per hour on the Interstate. Going at that slow speed, I hit a huge pool of water on the road, which I couldn't see and there wouldn't have been anything I could do anyway. The water flooded up over the car, covering the windshield completely, preventing me from seeing anything for about 2 seconds, I'd guess. I just kept creeping along because there wasn't anything else to do, but about 5 miles down the road, I realized that the car's A/C had stopped blowing cold air. It was extremely hot and muggy that afternoon and I asked the Lord what I should do about it.
It came to me to pull off the Interstate a few miles from home and stop by the auto shop which had worked on the van's A/C this March. I told the kid what had happened and he said the water probably had done something to the valves. He told me to bring it in the next morning and he would fix it while I waited, because I needed to get back to the hospital. When he opened the hood and looked inside, he said, "Your radiator hose has a hole in it; you wouldn't make it back to Fayetteville without it blowing." Wow, I never look under the hood as I wouldn't know what I was looking at, though the hole was obvious, even to me when he pointed it out to me.
The next morning, our dear friend Marvin Cope came over and checked the water and oil and transmission fluid for me, took me up to the auto shop and then drove me to Walmart to pick up a prescription while they worked on the A/C and put in a new radiator hose. Clearly, the Lord used a scary situation to show me yet again that He has everything under control. Had I not driven through the water which had dislodged a wire to one of the A/C fans, I would never have known that the radiator hose had a hole in it. You can drive without A/C, uncomfortable though it would be in this heat wave, but you can't get very far with a leaking radiator hose. These little episodes always remind me how futile it is to worry and over react to situations when God has them all in His hands.
People who blame the devil for all their troubles have missed the glorious Good News that God is sovereign over everything, including Satan. If that weren't true, then we'd have something to be depressed about, because we'd be no match for him on our own. As it is, when we get the revelation that God sends everything and then delivers us through whatever it may be, we can relax. Our Father has planned all circumstances we encounter to reveal His glory, love, and power to us.
And one last thought about the rich man in Hades (meaning place of the dead), which most translators render "hell." (That's a mistranslation, because Gehenna was a physical place on the Southwest corner of Jerusalem, where the fires were kept burning day and night to dispose of the dead bodies, trash, and other garbage in Jesus' day. It was NOT a destination after death).
Jeri Fox pointed out years ago that Lazarus got redemption in his place of torment. Clearly, he had lived a self-centered, self-absorbed life, not caring for anyone but himself. Even in torment, he was thinking only of himself, until finally, he asked Abraham, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.''
"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead' " (Luke 16:27-31).
Somewhere, Christians have gotten the idea that God "promised us a rose garden." With all Lenny's pain, he certainly is qualified to comment on this, and he always says, "If Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, how can we expect less?" (Heb. 5:8). I intuit that the word "obedience" used there probably isn't the best translation because Jesus was NOT rebellious or disobedient. It probably would be more accurate to translate it, "From the things He suffered, Jesus learned that His Father and our Father is as powerful and glorious on earth as He is in heaven." I certainly am NOT a Greek scholar, but one doesn't have to be when the Holy Spirit is on the job, and what Lenny and I have learned from our trials and tribulations is that God is worthy of trust. He alone knows the end from the beginning and He is ALWAYS in the fiery furnace with us as He delivers us from it when the lesson is over.
On Wednesday, the 18th, the VA doctor in Fayetteville had Lenny transported to Little Rock, where the cardiac care unit is located. They had seen an abnormality in his heart when they did a nuclear stress test and the doctor decided that he needed an angiogram to determine if any arteries were blocked. I came home with a heavy heart at leaving him, but he felt I needed to rest and see about our kitties.
The next day, Thursday, I drove to Little Rock (253 miles one way) through a blinding rain storm, praying in tongues all the way from Bella Vista to Alma. It took 5 hours to make the drive, but uncomfortable as it was, I felt God's presence with me and arrived safely to find out that they had found blockage in two of Lenny's arteries and had installed two stents (steel mesh cages to hold the artery open). He was feeling OK, though he had to lie totally still for about 4 hours so the puncture in the vein in his groin where they went up into his heart arteries with lights, action, camera and the stents (no music though), could heal properly. It sounds scary, but he felt nothing, was awake throughout so they could talk to him and he to them. They told him that when the blood flow to the heart was restored, he would feel better, have more energy, and his heart murmur would most likely subside.
They told us they would release him on Friday, which they did, though it was so late in the day that he said he didn't want me driving home at night through another storm which was predicted. So, we spent Friday night in the motel where we always stay when he has procedures in Little Rock, and drove home on Saturday. In total, he spent 14 days in the two VA Hospitals.
When we arrived home, we found four generous and unexpected checks waiting for us, which covered the expense of the additional nights in the motel, the gas, the food, the repair of the van A/C earlier, and so again, God has met our needs, provided safety and protection for us, cared for my mother here at home and for our furry, feline children, Baby and Taffy. God is good!
Father, thank You for sending us learning lessons which manifest Your matchless love and care for us all. We stand amazed at your attention to the tiniest detail. We ask You to reveal Yourself in a deeper way to all those who only know about You, but do not know You personally. You alone are worthy of praise and honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
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This page was uploaded to the web on 07/16/07
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/28/08.