David and Nina Rice

We had David and Nina Rice in our home for almost a week in March. They are very precious friends and we have known each other for nearly 30 years. In December 2012 David and Nina were both diagnosed with cancer within a couple of days of each other. What follows is a diary of God’s grace as life unfolded for them over the following year.

A Diary of God’s Grace

What follows is a collation of emails which I sent out during 2013 to communicate with a group of folk who were supporting  me and my wife Nina before the Lord as we experienced the most challenging and wonderful year in our lives.  Within two days of each other in December 2012 we were both diagnosed with different cancers; she with breast cancer and I with multiple myeloma.  Throughout the year of our treatment we experienced many wonderful things from the Lord.  The reason for posting them in their original form is to preserve the sense of the story as it developed.  Nothing has subsequently been added, except headings, so the story reads as a diary of what was happening and how the Lord was dealing with us.  I trust that you find it a blessing and you may be encouraged to trust Him in whatever situation you may find yourself.

The Story Develops

8 December 2012     (To a friend in Australia)

……For the last few years I have had an involvement with a family in a very poor region of western Kenya who, through an amazing set of circumstances have inherited 14 orphaned children in addition to their own and suddenly home has become an orphanage.  I visited them in July with Dave and Bev Ryman and on returning home felt very run down and also had hypertension for the first time in my life.  After undergoing  investigations following a blood test that showed some abnormal protein levels, I was diagnosed on Thursday with the news  that I have  multiple myeloma.  The progress of the disease is quite rapid but has not yet affected organs like the kidneys or bone structure.  I am starting chemotherapy on Monday and this will mean going through a series of treatments up to May of next year.  This will most likely be followed by a stem cell transplant to replace my bone marrow  in the second half of 2013.  Hopefully all of this will lead to remission by the end of the year or before.

They are adopting an aggressive approach because my general health is good and I should be able to withstand the process.  The idea is that this will give a better outcome long term.

The crazy thing is that Nina also has had a cancer diagnosed within the last week and will undergo surgery on a lump in her left breast before Christmas.  That will be followed by radiation and possibly chemotherapy in the New Year. The surgeon is confident that it is very treatable.

Enough about the natural details. The fact that we are both in this situation together is a little bizarre and more than a little challenging but we are both well in ourselves and really feel a sense of purpose in these days.  The Lord has given us a strong sense that we will finish the course and by His grace complete the reason for being on this earth.  We are really aware of being creatures of eternity and that our lives are but a tiny part of His perfect plan.  The day must surely come when the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  We have a deep desire to be hearing Him clearly and joining with other brothers and sisters in deep agreement as to His purposes. We desire to live free from distraction which may well include an over-consciousness of our health issues.

We have been blessed  in recent days with  encouragement and clearly Spirit-led connections, deeds, prayers etc. from many people.   It is wonderful when folk, following the prompting of the Spirit, function towards us out of that,  not feeling any other sense of duty.  We feel so blessed to live among such a precious body of believers.

One consequence of our treatment is that travel is out of the question for the foreseeable future but we do have a strong desire to go down under again for a number of reasons.  I am sure that there will be a right time for that.  We would really love to catch up with you all again.

Love to all the family,

In Jesus,  where there is fullness of life,

David

 

Progress Report and Some Personal Insights

12 February 2013

………….I am writing this from the oncology ward  as I wait for my treatment.  I also have had you on my heart for the last week but you got there first in regard to emails!   I also wanted to update you on our news which is pretty positive. I realise just now that I have not communicated with you since the episode I had in hospital around Christmas.  That was a weird time as it turned out that I had no infection but an antibiotic allergy!  It took 3 weeks of being pumped with them to find out that they were the problem,  and eventually I had to diagnose the problem myself as the doctors could not see past an infection!  It was a case of medical tunnel-vision which thankfully has worked out for the best as I have developed a great relationship with the doctor who was responsible.  The consultant was very gracious and said  “it seems Mr Rice has solved our problem for us” when I linked days to temperatures and pointed out a thread that ran through the whole process.

Nina’s news is particularly positive.  First her surgery went very well and they only needed to take the tumour leaving the lymph nodes.  A gene test on the tumour showed that she has zero requirement for chemotherapy to follow her surgery.  On a scale of 0-100 anything under 18 is considered unnecessary to treat.  She scored a zero which is an Irish first!  This is such a relief for her as she was not looking forward to the side effects.  She is to start four weeks of radiation on Monday 18 Feb. and that is likely to have a fatiguing effect for a period but then she should have a completely clean bill of health.

My situation is also encouraging.  After all the  hiccups of the antibiotic allergies I am now well into the chemo and it is going well.  My bad protein level has fallen from 35.5g/litre of blood to below 10g/l.  The registrar said that they will consider doing the stem cell transfer after the next course of chemo.  That will be in about 5 weeks time.  If that happens I may have a working immune system again by May which is 3 months earlier than I had expected!  Either way I am in great peace and rest knowing that the Lord is in control of the process.  When everything seemed to go out of order at Christmas I now see that He had a purpose in it far bigger than I saw then, so I can rest in that. The only thing I found hard was that Nina was at home having just had surgery and I could not be there for her. Both of our girls were amazing and Anna’s husband, Greg, took over all the cooking, a task at which he is brilliant, and Nina was looked after  far better than I could have done!

This season has been a fascinating time for both of us.  I feel that the Lord has said I am moving from the ‘seeing visions stage’ to the ‘dreaming dreams stage’.  In other words I may not live to see the things I see now in the Spirit come to pass in the Body but I can still dream and those  who can catch the vision and run with it will know it in fullness in their experience.  That is very satisfying.  The dream which I shared with you of folk walking in deep agreement with the Lord is growing everyday in my heart.  I am captivated by the potential of brothers and sisters who have laid down their own works and ideas, their understanding of how God should do it and every man-centered imagination, and start to walk in agreement with the Spirit in the same manner as Jesus, who did ‘only what he saw his Father do’. The context of John 14 is about us  as individuals being brought into that relationship with Father and Son.  Then it goes on to say if two of you agree as touching anything on earth it shall be done.  The agreement is not coming from the earth to heaven but  being joined to the perfect will of Father and Son.  Of course it will be done!  What a privilege to walk with Him and in doing so walk into deep agreement with other brothers and sisters.   What potential there is for the church when we are in a place to walk like that.  I do believe that the generation that will reveal the Kingdom order on earth will have to walk like that. Then shall the end come!  I see so clearly that He is going to raise up an ecclesia of those who will walk in such a way and be unbelievably effective on this earth. Let it be so Lord!

Some Understanding Dawns

16 February 2013

Hello to everyone who has been such a wonderful support to Nina and me in recent months.  Since I sent out our original email to many of you in December last many things have happened and, though we have experienced many challenges, it has been a wonderful season of both hearing and knowing the Lord. I cannot look on anything that has happened and feel it was out of His control even if I had no idea how to control some of the things at times. I also am completely free of any sense of frustration or hurt, even when things have not always gone smoothly.  My relationship with the medical team is excellent and I find the whole experience at one level just an interesting science experiment!

At this point Nina is about to start  four weeks of radiation instead of six as was originally thought.  She does not need any chemotherapy and her prognosis is very positive. My chemotherapy has been going very well and the para-protein load, (the main causative symptom of the disease), has been steadily decreasing so that they are talking of doing the stem cell transplant after the next chemotherapy course in about five or six weeks time. This is months earlier than I expected and could mean that I return to a fairly normal lifestyle by early summer if all goes well.

I would like to take this opportunity to spell out some of the things that have become clear to me during this process. Firstly, may I say how overwhelmed we are by the love and prayerful support that has been shown to us by so many, including all of you. It is just not possible to express what that has meant, but I know that everyday our lives are impacted by the way in which you have responded in so many wonderful ways to the promptings of the Spirit, both in practical and spiritual ways. It is so deeply appreciated and depended upon.  In many emails one or other has asked if there is something specific to pray for or, others have declared what they see to pray for us. I am not sure that I can be very specific as things do change and I trust that as the Lord lays us on your hearts at the right time He gives the right burden to pray.  I am just grateful that folk respond to Him and I certainly would not put any burden beyond that which He gives you.  He knows the situation far better than I do!

Some of you have expressed that you are praying for my complete healing.  I would like to take a little time to give you my feelings on that.   If the Lord has really given you clarity about such a prayer then please respond to that before Him.  The witness to the Spirit is one of the most important things we have and each of us must be very clear that we operate out of that.  Nothing that I am about to say is in order to crush your  witness in the Spirit but rather to encourage you to trust it and to let the Lord refine it.   When both Nina and I received our diagnoses in December the Lord clearly spoke to us about ‘running the race and completing the course’.  As I said then I immediately knew He was not talking then about length of days but of task completion.  We are both completely satisfied with such a position and would not have it any other way. Physical death does not hold fear for me as I have been right on the edge of that once before and it was full of peace.  I would like to give you a little bit of personal testimony of how He has been dealing with me ever since the diagnosis.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow.  It is called ‘multiple’ because it attacks the bone marrow and then the bones at multiple sites through the body and there is no one tumour site.  Untreated I would be expected to live for maybe a year and then suffer multiple bone lesions and kidney failure leading to an unpleasant death.  Doctors have not found any cure for it but the treatments now available mean that the symptoms can be controlled very well and long periods of remission are possible.  Many people are alive with the condition for 20 years or so.  They tell me that I am more likely to die of something else!  I tell you this to illustrate what I mean when I say it is like being on death row with many appeals to face!  The effect on my day to day life is to make me so aware every day of the grace of God and its total sufficiency in the face of my weakness. I have known for many years a wonderful awareness of the love of my heavenly Father but that has become so deep in ways that I could not have imagined since this situation arose.  The Lord has been speaking to me of many things which give me purpose and a clear focus for the future and I trust Him for His grace to declare them as fully as He would have me do.  There is one prayer which I feel forbidden to pray and that is that ‘I would be healed’.  I am not saying that that may not change but at this point I see this situation as totally in His hands  and I do not need even to ask that question or the question ‘why’.  It seems that it is not on His agenda as far as I am concerned.  I do pray that I may know His grace to live and serve Him to the fullest extent that my limited strength will allow.  That I may know wisdom and clarity in declaring the words that He gives me.

Part of my reason for telling you this is to encourage you if you have felt the same and did not know why you can not pray in the way you expected, and the other part  is to release anyone who finds this statement difficult to understand.  It has nothing to do with His ability to heal or whether He heals in these days, it is just that we need to hear clearly and nothing that I hear from Him has healing on the agenda.  Now, on the positive side, I do hear clearly the reference in Romans 8v11  that the same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwelling in me shall quicken my mortal body as He dwells in me (my paraphrase).  Thankfully, that is my daily experience and I trust that more and more the spirit of His resurrection life is my ongoing experience. Each day both death and life are at work in my body and I trust that the life is bringing forth the fruit of His resurrection. Lord let it be so.  I am totally in peace in this situation even deeply thankful for it.  I now am starting to appreciate the need I had for what has happened.  Nothing has happened that He is not absolutely Lord of, and everything that has happened has served to bless me and I trust others also.  My focus on His call is so much clearer, my need of His strength and grace each day is so very real and the freedom from distraction by things that do not profit is so refreshing and liberating. I can honestly say I have never known such blessing!  Please rejoice with me!

I trust that you can hear my spirit in all of this.  We both deeply appreciate all of your support and prayers.  The Lord has amazing plans for His people and to bless the world He so loves.  There is nothing we can experience in this world that is better than knowing His love draw us to appreciate that His ways are always the highest and that He is absolutely trustworthy.  His plans are perfect and He is right on time.

Lord, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Much love to one and all,

David

He Is In the Boat

10 May 2013

As I write this I am still in hospital at the end of what has been a really challenging  week.  There are many stories to tell, and The Lord has been so wonderful to me that it is hard to describe how grateful I feel for all His goodness.  I would like to concentrate on just one word which I knew was significant as I heard it, but did not at all know just how much.  I have shared some of this with some of you already so please forgive the repetition.

As I came in here, about three weeks ago, to start the harvest and transplant  process the Lord brought to mind the story from the gospel of the disciples in the boat with Jesus when the storm blew up and they woke Him in panic.  He rebuked them for their lack of faith and then proceeded to calm the storm which everyone saw  as a great miracle.  I felt He was telling me that it was sufficient that He was in the boat with them and He is in the boat with me. The reality of that became so amazing this week as the storm struck and I was not in control of the raging temperatures and rigours, the feeling of nausea and a strong desire to vomit.  All of this struck as a reaction to one of the antibiotics that they gave me which had also caused problems last December but they risked using it as no one was sure what caused last December’s reactions. The awkward thing was that I was attached to the machine that extracted the stem cells from my blood at the same time. There was quite a panic around me as the machine did not seem to be working properly.  Actually it was working, but I had so few neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) that it could not find a reference point for the stem cells.  So there were calls to England, doctors giving orders, nurses rushing everywhere, and I lay there very ill but actually in total peace absolutely aware of only the Lord’s presence and peace.  The nurse said to Nina the next day “we were all in a complete panic here and David went off somewhere, we are not sure where, but he was in total peace.”  I do not know if I slept at that time but I certainly did that night as the storm continued.  I know that  I was very emotional all of next day as I thought of just how special is that personal love of the God of all creation as HE shared my boat through that storm.  I still am overcome as I think of the sense of the order of heaven being of a much higher order than that of the physical and sensual. It was completely unmoved by the earthly storm I was in and it was possible to be occupied only with Him and His love for me. In fact I do not think it was possible to be occupied with anyone or anything else.  Jesus, You are so special.

The team actually collected five million stem cells that day and another five million the next day which is enough to do four transplants, although, for other reasons, only two would ever be attempted.

The time in here has been special in other ways but they can wait. I just wanted to share with you a little of how wonderful the reality of His presence has been at a time when I had no ability to cope by myself.  Bless Jesus.

Love and thanks again to all,

David

Anticipation of the Transplant

6 June 2013

Hi Everyone,

The hoped-for bed did not materialise this week so I will almost certainly begin the transplant on 10 June.  There are two people recovering from the process at the moment and that just leaves 2 beds which will go first to leukaemia patients who need isolation during their treatment.

I am thrilled to be able to report that, at the last test, my blood was completely normal and contained no para-protein.  This confirms the previous test on my bone marrow which showed no cancer cells. I am in complete remission. The very best way to start the transplant!

The process involves a very high dose of chemotherapy, to knock out the existing bone marrow, followed by the introduction, the next day, of the previously harvested stem cells.  These take about 10 days to embed and start to reproduce new bone marrow. During that time I will be very vulnerable to infection as my blood counts decline drastically. After about 2 weeks the blood starts to rebuild and I begin to get back my immune system.  The chemotherapy tends to make most people very nauseous and gives them sores in the mouth and a very disturbed digestive tract.  Most people report not wanting to eat for a couple of weeks.  We shall see.

Anticipating the next few weeks, I do feel some trepidation but I am very sure whose hands my life is in. The process is a bit of a marathon but I do feel a great sense of purpose about it all.  I am concerned for Nina and the girls as in many ways it is much harder for them having to watch all of this while they have the added fatigue of regular hospital visits.

I am so appreciative of all the support that has come my way from so many and in so many ways.  It has been amazing how sensitive you have all been to the Spirit and there are so many instances of that.  I have been so blessed by the little things that have expressed the love and faithfulness of both the Lord and each of you.  The word in season or the text, email or phone message perfectly timed and the other practical things that have really helped. You each know who you are and please understand how grateful we are.

We are really blessed and privileged.

I will try to keep up the communications in the coming weeks if I feel able. In the meantime thanks again.

Much love,

David

 

The Transplant

26 June 2013

Hi everyone,

First let me start by thanking those of you who have taken the trouble to write to me in recent days.  I have not been in a position to reply to each one individually and I know you don’t expect it but I do very much appreciate it.  Some of the words shared were very strategic and helpful.  I am so touched that you take the time and care to listen to Father on my behalf and find just the right words from Him.

I am slowly beginning to adjust to having a new blood system and to feeling new life come back to my body each day.  It really is an amazing feeling and shows me starkly how the life is in the blood. Every last cell is supplied and nourished by it and if you don’t have it working you know all about it!  All of those miraculous, but natural, processes are staggering in themselves but I am not exaggerating when I say that the real transformation in me is at a far deeper level, in the spirit.   The last week has easily been the most significant in my life.  I know that inside I am a different and new person. The Lord has been so wonderful to me that I am not sure if I will ever be able to express the wonders of what I see in Him. I am not even sure that I am meant to try, rather to let the fruit of that come out in other ways. We shall see.

I do feel to share a picture that I  He gave me from the transplant to illustrate the reality of redemption.  In the days before  I came in to hospital on previous occasions I felt I was prepared, by the Lord, for what was to come, either by a word or picture or something that caught my attention or someone shared.  This time I felt the opposite.  If anything, I felt very unprepared, aware of sin, my flesh, weakness and temptation. As I looked to the Lord I felt only one word, PATIENCE. Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen me refer to that there.

I came into the hospital and the procedure began with a very high dose of a particularly nasty chemotherapy drug which was designed to take out my bone marrow completely. This clear, innocent-looking chemical has a very short half-life so it had broken down and left my body within a couple of hours.  The devastation it caused in that time is considerable and its effects will be felt for months. In fact, if I had not had my own stem cells returned to me I would definitely have died as I could not, any more, produce blood cells.  This is such a picture of sin. At first it seems innocent and of little consequence, but as it works through a life it produces death, guaranteed.

Those small packages of my stem cells, previously harvested, represent the redemptive blood of Jesus.  As they  bring new life to my body they deal with the effects of death and sin’s damage. I am redeemed by His blood. I become filled with His New Life. It has not known sin and is not infected by death rather it transforms my sinful body to be like Him.  What an amazing work of grace and love.

The above picture became so vividly alive to me as I came through the process. The ten days or so  of waiting to see if the cells had engrafted are a special experience.  I could feel death at work in me but new life was also growing and swallowing up the death. Once in motion both processes lead to completely inevitable, but opposite, results.   In my case death was swallowed by life.   It took patience to see the life re-grow, but when it did the transformation was immediate and amazing.  Over a period of about two days I went from being unable to sustain my own life to a completely restored, normal blood count!

This simple but, to me, very real picture of His grace in redemption led on to days and nights of revelatory adventure which are transforming me and I do not know if I can ever or should ever share. What matters is that I don’t think I can ever be the same again!

This morning as I awoke from a night, very aware of the heavenly realm I saw this picture in my spirit of a very much flesh-and-blood Jesus. He said something like this to me, “you think that all of this you see is amazing, and it is, but to me to spend time and give my devotion  and fellowship to those who are mine is infinitely more important and satisfying”. I felt He was inviting me to hang out with him and, I suppose, that is exactly what He is doing.  We are of infinite importance to Him, of far more significance than all the majesty of His glory in the heavens. He loved us so much it cost Him His Life and He freely gave it up, and everything else, for us.  “When two or three gather together in my name I am in the midst”.  Can you feel His enjoyment and delight in such things?

What potential He sees in such  devoted relationships!

Love in wonder of who He is,

David

War and Peace

24 July 2013

Hi everyone!

This email is to inform you all that I am making excellent progress physically and by the end of this week I hope to have the remaining tubes removed.  I am slowly getting out of the clutches of the medics! Mind you, I am ever so grateful to them for the magnificent way in which they have cared for me and directed my treatment.  I cannot fault the service I have received. I feel that I am getting stronger every day.

As I have said before I am also so grateful to each one of you for the way you have stood alongside me and held me before the Lord especially during the first half of this year.

I visited my GP a couple of weeks ago and we got chatting about how the treatment had gone.  I look to him as a wise man and was struck by a comment he made as we were parting.  He said  “You have won the war, now you need to win the peace”.  He was referring to the situation that many soldiers found themselves in after the 2nd World War when they returned home from the fighting.  They were initially hailed as heroes but very quickly, as they tried to settle back home they found everything had changed.  Many could not return to their traditional jobs.  Socially there were many changes that were hard to adapt to and the position of esteem they held in the army was no longer there for them as they were demobbed and returned to civilian life. They found it much easier to cope with bombs and bullets than the challenges of the new mundane, post-war, life.  Many of them suffered psychologically and never fulfilled the roles they were capable of.  They never ‘won the peace’.

How does such a statement relate to my situation?  I saw immediately what he meant and the Lord added His emphasis for my sake.  God is just as real when life is mundane and maybe we feel there is little challenge or clear direction. Such are the very  times when we need Him most and also when He desires to draw us to Himself for His sake, not just because we need help in a crisis.  How important it is to respond to the tug of His love and let Him fill us with the delight of His presence at all times. We do not really understand how much we mean to Him if we only look to Him in our hour of need. He delights in our fellowship.

I am coming out of the last seven months of physical challenge with many new desires that I believe are God-given.  They all relate to how I ‘win the peace’.  The times of physical challenge were wonderful and opened my eyes to new things in Him but they are worthless if I keep looking backwards and try to live there.  The challenge of walking on in His ever-fresh life and seeing each situation from His perspective is in front of me and I want to embrace it fully. Only then can I know the full experience of His New Covenant where ‘His word is in my heart and on my lips, the word of faith’.

Many of you are aware that the Lord has called you and He is working in your heart to fulfil His purpose.  Treasure the times when little is happening on the outside but inside you have deep desires for Him.

They are just as important as the times when life is full of activity, accomplishment or challenge.  He desires to get close to you at such a time and to bring you to where you delight in His fellowship no matter what is going on in your life.  Let us come to where we value winning the peace just as much as the war!

With much love,

David.

Some Thoughts And Recollections At The End Of A Special Year

15 December 2013

Season’s Greetings to One and All,

I do not have a history of sending out emails that review the past year, but this time I am going to make an exception as we are just at the  first anniversary of both of us receiving our respective diagnoses of  cancer.

This week last year Nina was preparing to go into hospital for her surgery and I had just started my first chemotherapy course.  Then, in the week before Christmas as she was just home and post-op. I was taken in with an apparent infection that they never found but which marked the start of an eventful year.

Now, one year on, we are both feeling very well (more to say on that below) and deeply thankful to the Lord for His goodness and love, and to each of you for your faithfulness, friendship and support which has carried us through a very special and wonderful year that was a little challenging at times.  We can report to those of you who do not know, that since my stem cell bone marrow transplant at the end of June we have been well enough to travel to France at the end of August, Denmark and Sweden at the end of

September and to Kenya at the end of October. I can also report that the worst infection I had during the whole year of compromised immunity was a cold for a week in   mid-October. That has so much to do with your encouragement and prayers and most of all with His amazing grace and goodness to me. In that regard as I look back on the year I never experienced any fear at all but just a sense of His presence and purpose.

By last May Nina had completed all her treatments and is now fine, though she does not find the preventive drugs that she is encouraged to take very easy as they tend to make her fatigued and lacking in energy.

Since my transplant my energy has steadily increased and at this time my muscles are starting to feel almost normal.  I managed eighteen holes  this week without any after-pains. This is the first time I have swung a club in over a year and a half!  I am, however, undergoing a series of tests to find the cause of unexplained granulomas (rings of defensive cells) in my bone marrow that should not be there.

They are a non-specific indicator of many possible, serious conditions.  Initially they thought that they were the result of  the numerous allergic reactions I had to sulphonamides, (and I think that is still the most likely cause), but as they are there rather a long time now they are concerned that there may be another cause.  We shall see.  They say it is a mystery as I am so well by every measure, including all my blood parameters. It is helping, however, to put off a decision regarding whether I should be taking two or three years of maintenance chemotherapy to keep the myeloma at bay.  I have struggled a bit over that because, while the therapy works, it can compromise the immune system, induce fatigue and also trigger other malignancies. There is much debate in medical circles about this and I will have to make a decision, I imagine, before too long.  They want to keep me healthy as long as possible as there are encouraging signs of a complete cure on the horizon.  I hear the Lord say about it all that His point is to teach  me what total dependence on Him means.  I do desire that deeply and am seeing that I do not need to have all the natural best advice in order to do that.

At a personal level one of the things that stands out to me as I look back is the way in which the Lord always provided such riches for my spirit during the various treatments.  It seemed that there was always a word which completely satisfied my heart so that I was prepared for every crisis as it arose.  I have shared many of them with most of you already in previous emails, but in looking back now I see that the clearest understanding and revelation of His heart came when I was at my weakest physically.

There are some specific words that have become clear to me during the year which I feel there is benefit in sharing.

Firstly, I am persuaded that there is no circumstance in which  He wants us to be moved by fear.  His wonderful love really does cast it out as we open ourselves to Him and respond fully to His care.  He replaces our natural anxieties with a quiet confidence in His Lordship and a sense that our lives are secure in His hands as we rest in Him.

Secondly,  I have become convinced that there are two ways of looking at every situation, from an earthly perspective or from the Lord’s perspective. This was very clearly illustrated to me through the story of Jesus in the boat with his disciples when the storm blew up.  He could sleep in the boat because he had no fear of drowning or of Father’s plan for him going awry. Father’s purpose did not include that!  He had not made a mistake in taking to the water in the first place.  The disciples, on the other hand, were not so sure, and panicking, they woke him and cried out to him for help. The story ends in a great miracle after he had rebuked them for their lack of faith.   This illustrates so well the difference between God’s  perspective and ours. Our faith and  love relationship with him allows us to have that perspective that trusts Father’s plan, even when it  seems counter-intuitive.  I am sure that his grace will rescue us no matter from which perspective we call on him, but Father is glorified when his sons and daughters have their trust in him and can rest in his perfect will. It also allows them to see what He is doing and to really pray “your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven” with deeper understanding of His heart and His purpose.

Thirdly, I have become more conscious of the realm of the spirit, the realm of true reality.  When we come to Jesus we are born again into that realm. When Jesus was facing Calvary he said that when he left them the Father would send another comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who would take of the things of God and reveal them to them. He would teach them all things. They would never be alone or comfortless.  No amount of study or searching can find or understand the truth without him revealing it to our spirits. Our minds only become profitable when they are renewed by his Spirit. Many of us come from a background where the mind is king when it comes to trying to search for truth.  If that mind is not truly humble and continually renewed by the Spirit then we can never come to anything more than a head knowledge of who He is and the truth becomes about what is ‘true’, rather than a person who is the TRUTH. The Bible is just a source of argument unless the truth in it is revealed by Him.  We so badly need to know the baptism in and continuous filling of His Spirit if we are to understand the realm of His truth and be equipped and empowered to be His witnesses. There is much to say about this subject and this letter is in danger of becoming a ‘preach’!  What I have become aware of this year is the reality of this realm in a new way. It is where our citizenship belongs. It is much closer than we realise most of the time. He desires to open our eyes to be aware of it all the time.

Fourthly,  I am convinced of the truth in 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul speaks of God using the foolish and weak things to confound the wise and shame the strong, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are. Too often we limit Him by looking at ourselves and our natural limitations. We think God cannot make use of us because of these things, but they are the very things that He delights to use when we learn to depend on Him. Living dependent on Him is a truly wonderful way to live.  For the last few years I have had the privilege of visiting and sharing fellowship with folk in western Kenya.  This group has about thirty mouths to feed at every meal, and, naturally speaking, they do not have the resources to do that, but always the Lord is faithful and there is the necessary provision in an amazing way.  They do not wake up each day wondering will there be enough, but trusting Him has become as natural as breathing.  The result is an awareness of His presence continually among them, and that is attracting many to the come to the Lord.  When I was in hospital and very weak during the transplant, one morning Nina phoned me with a word she had heard from the Lord. It was a quote from Rev 3:17 “to him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the hidden manna.”  The original manna was a provision of the Lord for His people in the wilderness. It had to be gathered every day and would not keep overnight. The people learned to live trusting in that supply and they remained dependent on Him.  The provision of the Lord is always reliable.  We need to live dependent on His faithfulness and there is no need to fear that.  It is the safest place to be and He delights to be revealing the hidden things that are in His heart.

May the coming year be for you a season of increasing trust and dependence on Him, a time of resting in His wonderful love, and a year filled with a sense of adventure in discovering the wonders of His life in the realm of the Spirit. He is wonderfully faithful and takes delight in being among His deeply loved brothers and sisters in this world. We honour Him as we fellowship together and delight in who He is.

May you have a wonderful 2014 in Jesus’ name.

Love David and Nina.

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