As most of you know, I’ve been writing a blog journaling my ‘voyage’ on the Starship Genesis Two-Seven, the analogy being the journey I am now on as I have a diagnosis of a terminal lung disease known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. That journal of ‘The Passenger’s Log’ can be found at www.rossriggs.com/voyage. For the most part, the blog is an update on the most current medical info I have and the tests I’m going through. There are other issues though that come up I need to wrestle with as the voyage continues. When those get a bit long in their wording, I turn to a Ministry Minute to think (or write) it through. The writing is, for me, cathartic. I hope you will come along and comment as you feel inclined! This is one of those talk throughs…
One of my most precious crewmates, Ally, is in Children’s Hospital right now, over a week battling her own medical issues which she will survive, no doubt but her life will be changed. (My family, conscripted upon my Voyage are ‘crewmates’ and those of you who sign-on to be with us are ‘shipmates’ and I appreciate every one of you!)
As a Papaw, it would be easier, and my preference would be, to take on all that my precious crewmate is dealing with and free her from it. I know her parents and my first-mate feel the same way. It gives us a small reminder of how God must have felt when His own Son suffered so. Jesus taught His disciples, recorded in Matthew 7:9-11, “9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
It seems that God has had much to teach us this first half of 2021. I think perhaps one of the biggest tests has been our faith. Faith, not just in the fact that God is God and Jesus is exactly who He says He is and that the Holy Spirit is always present with us to help us with every moment of every day, of that my belief is solid. More so, it is the faith to stand for what we believe. I am reminded of our responsibility, particularly with government, to question when we see things that don’t make sense to us. Finally, when it comes down to it, what is really important in life and what is not. Living a ‘life sentence’ is actually something we all do but we don’t think of it that way and I find that, even now, I have days where it does not come to mind so frequently. Other days, I am reminded almost continually that sooner, rather than later, I will see my wonderful Savior, face to face. That brings an incredible clarity to life here. Still, I have every hope that God will override the doctors’ prognosis and whether through the use of a lung transplant or other miraculous act on His part, I will speed past the 3 to 5 years I’ve been ‘allotted’ by the human physicians and go on for many years, if not decades to come. Whatever God’s plan, it is perfect and I will trust Him totally.
About those responsibilities to stand for what we believe, that comes upon me because of the raucous and almost unbelievable age in which we live with governments at all levels dictating for the citizen the inanest rules. These rules come without the strength of a law behind them and the people fall in line as herds of cows to a cattle car. The end of the line for that car is only that, the end of the line. Like so many sheep without any sense of a shepherd, people blindly fall in and do whatever dictate is demanded by government. They all but roll over and play dead at the merest insinuation that ‘action will be taken’ against you or your business if you do not. Sadly, the same has been true for our churches. Under the fear of either governmental action or a mysterious virus that no one seems to be able to quantify nor clarify, they buckle under as if their only faith is in the government edicts and not the supreme Lord of the Universe. Many are driven by good intentions, not wanting to incite more fear or panic into their members. Some try not to create some split between those who will not stand for the unconstitutional edicts of government’s interference with religion in the name of public health and those who are dreadfully scared of the virus quoting Scripture to say we are to honor government. (That is a theological argument not meant for these few pages.)
This virus, although it has some lethality, is no more than annual visits of influenza we see every year. Additionally, citizens, businesses, churches kowtow to the demands the government has put upon the people, such as the wearing of microbe infested and virus breeding masks that do nothing to stop the spread of any virus but hamper the best possible filter the human body has for such filtration, the God designed human olfactory system. Such masks and shields are absolutely useless and more likely harmful. Still, people wear them when alone in their cars, outside for a walk in the fresh air and every other minute of the day, all fear induced. Just recently in an obvious political move, the Ohio governor has abolished all such rules minus long-term care facilities and nursing homes, still which makes no scientific sense but helps breed more germs. Anyway… that short stop atop the soap box brings me back to the purpose of this post and that is the clarity of living life after being notified that your allotted time is going to be apparently much shorter than you had hoped.
Tim McGraw wrote a song back in 2004 that really is powerful. I think I make the analogy between Tim McGraw’s song and the freedom that comes from such awareness of one’s mortality because in our current day we need to remember that we live in a country wherein God’s providential blessings are ours. We call them ‘inalienable rights’ which have been bestowed upon us by God and not government Those blessings are recognized as the highest law of the land, though not without detractors, of course. We have lived in a time recently where they have been forgotten or at least ignored. I suppose that is not surprising, so much of America’s ‘leaders’ seem to have forgotten or are ignoring God, much to their personal peril and to our nation’s death knell. For seventy years the National Day of Prayer has been hosted at our nation’s capitol building. Not this year. It was refused. Also, this was the first time there was no mention of the name Jesus Christ at the event.
When the narrative of Tim McGraw’s song is actually your own, it brings with it a freedom, and an urgency to act on that freedom. Although each of us lives under the diagnosis of death, excepting the return of Christ, few of us live like it. I know I have not and I, as The Passenger aboard the Genesis two-seven,can celebrate, in one sense, the freedom it brings now that I do.
Someone once said that young men should always be concerned about dating a girl whose father is older because when a man reaches a certain age, the threat of a life sentence is not much of a deterrent. I am now at an age that allows me the freedom to do pretty much what I choose and to say what I feel without fear of retribution. My guiding restriction is to never do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit nor taint my testimony. Granted, burying a boyfriend with the John Deere or the Case in the back forty is probably not on the wise things to do list. I didn’t say it wasn’t on a list, just not on the wise list! However, with the added advantage of a small glimpse into the future, plus the freedom given me by age (read that: wisdom)… I can say and do most anything, within reason. Whether or not anyone listens is up to them.
Allow me to explain and I apologize in advance for the length of the post. If you choose not to venture on, I won’t be offended. I have a tracker on the blog so I know who actually reads all of this and who doesn’t, but don’t let that bother you. Feel free to drop out of the text anytime… I may notice but I won’t hold it against you… You may be mentioned in my eulogy someday but, hey, no worries…
Here is what Tim McGraw wrote in “Live Like You Were Dying”
“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again
What kind of a world would we be living in right now if everyone lived each day with their last day in view?
There is a story told of W.C. Fields, on his deathbed I must share. First, you must know that Fields was a famous, if not, infamous, comedian of the early 20th century who was known for quips like, “I like children – fried.” “There’s no such thing as tough children, if you parboil them for seven hours, they always come out tender.” “Children should be seen and not heard from – ever again.” Supposedly, on his deathbed it was reported that he was seen carefully reading the Bible. When asked, “Why?” Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”
When it comes to having the real sense of freedom, I believe it can only come when you absolutely know and understand that each day you have in your hand is truly a gift and there is no guarantee of the next. Yes, I know we all say that, but we don’t live like we believe it. Recently I heard a man say, “Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Today is all you really have.” Worrying about what has been, is crazy because it’s gone. Worrying about what may be is crazy because it likely won’t be and if it is, do you really have any power to change it? And truly wasting the precious moments of today by worrying is crazy because when those minutes tick off on the clock, they are gone and you don’t get them back. Squeeze the life out of every single one of them! Wasting them on worry or on something that is sucking the joy out of life is hurting yourself and why would you, or I, want to do that?
I may have too many days in the past and not nearly enough days in the future, but one thing is certain, TODAY is a day I have been given and I don’t want a single moment to tick off the clock with a regret hanging on to it. Besides, regrets are messy and hard to clean up when they drip to the floor.
As I was finishing this post, a song came on the radio and the refrain pretty much says how I have decided to live in these days by God’s grace. The song is by Natalie Grant, titled In Christ Alone and the words are: “Till He returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” May you stand this day in the power of Christ. Do not allow some government politico to tell you what you can or cannot do without the strength of a moral law behind it. Trust in the Sovereign Creator of the Universe not a bureaucrat physician who hasn’t seen a human patient as a clinician in thirty years but sits behind a desk and generates Pablum for peasants rather than prescriptions for patients.
God bless. The Passenger.