“Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”
–Romans 13:14 (NLT)
When I was a kid, an old felt cowboy hat was a cherished part of my wardrobe. I used to play in that hat for hours. But there were two problems with my cowboy lifestyle. First, since I can’t see, somebody would have to help me point my gun. Second, I didn’t think my cowboy hat was authentic. I wanted a straw hat, and I now wonder how much time I wasted on that pursuit. But what seems so silly now was important to me back then.
Like all of us, as I grew older, I began to take on more and more responsibility. Then, like many of us, I got sucked into the vacuum of life. I was both overwhelmed and consumed by it, and I began to cave under the pressure.
It all came to a climax when my doctor said that I needed a new heart valve. I won’t go into the details, but I will mention these two things. When the surgeons finished, they told me that they had inserted a cow valve into my heart. Afterwards, I spent a lot of time recuperating. I became very reflective, but on the lighter side, the minute the doctors finished, I became a real cowboy!
While I still didn’t have a straw hat, I began to realize that wearing hats wasn’t just limited to what I had on my head. Let me tell you, you don’t think about how much you are doing until you can’t do much of anything.
I soon got tired of watching old reruns during my recovery, so I began to ask myself some hard questions. Later in my quest, I even began to wonder what I would do if this was my last day on this earth.
Morbid, you say? Well, I understand your feelings, but I strongly disagree. If you’ll keep on reading, I’d like to tell you why.
You see, asking those questions not only got me to thinking, but it helped me evaluate where I had been and where I was going. I can thank God now, because my heart valve replacement led me to a life adjustment which, in turn, led me to new doors of opportunity. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t recommend this procedure unless it’s absolutely necessary. But to my surprise, this turned out to be one of the richest times in my life.
God has brought people and blessings my way that I never could have imagined. God didn’t cause this to happen, but He did use it for His glory, and He wants to use the dark times in your life as well. He let me know that I was wearing the wrong kind of hat, and He helps me in challenging situations as I attempt to put on the right one. While I can’t go in to everything at this time, I can tell you that now I am a chaplain in a heart hospital.
looking back on my life, that old felt cowboy hat stands for my priorities, while the straw hat stands for God’s will. All too often, I wanted things the way I wanted them, exactly when I wanted them. While I struggle between two choices from time to time, and I may feel dismayed about something, I still find out that the straw hat is the best one to wear.
I have found that God can see better than any of us. When we feel like He has forgotten us, He is only working behind the scenes.
Is there pain in your life that you don’t understand? If so, join the human race. I know from experience that life will often bring grief and loss our way, which none of us can fathom. But I also know that God helps us through these times by bringing unspeakable joy to His children. Since I know this, it is my prayer that you would learn it too.
If you apply the guidelines that you have read here, you will draw closer to the abundant life which Jesus spoke about. If you still feel like you are going through life’s tests, I realize you don’t need yet another one. But if you wish to think about these questions yourself, I have a couple of suggested queries for you. These are similar to the ones I once asked myself, and hopefully they will help you see things more clearly.
First, why do I feel like I am drowning in an ocean? And when I finally seem to reach the shore of hope, why does it always appear to elude me?
After asking these questions, if you still feel like you’re stranded on the island of nowhere, let me offer a few thoughts that you may or may not want to implement. Sit down and quiet yourself in God’s presence, letting Him speak to your situation. Then write a letter to God, telling Him all about your frustrations, griefs, and losses. With Christian music in the background, ask God to help you through the maze in which you find yourself. Lastly watch Him work His will in your life.
If things aren’t happening at the speed you would like, don’t give up. Instead, ask God to help you wait for His timing, and to help you put on the right hat.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.