Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2018

I don’t miss dialysis one bit. It was hard, uncomfortable, inconvenient and sometimes unbearable. But it kept me alive. And I learned so much from this unique experience of having to do it over the past five months. God used this unpleasant time to teach me things I would have never learned otherwise. And so today is lesson #1.

Most of my dialysis involved a machine. Here’s a photo of it:

dialysis machine

This machine would go through a three-step cycle that involved pumping 2 liters of cleansing fluid in and out of my abdomen every two hours. The three steps of the cycle are:

  1. Fill – where the machine fills my abdomen with the fluid
  2. Dwell – where the machine lets the fluid stay in my abdomen for about an hour. During this time the fluid is pulling out the toxins that are residing in my body.
  3. Drain – where the machine drains all the fluid out of my abdomen through a tube that goes to our bathtub. Usually, I drain an extra 300-400 ml of toxic fluid along with the 2 liters of fluid.

Then it repeats the three-step process again and again and again. At the height of my dialysis, I would go through six cycles a night, from 8pm to 8am. It was effective because it would remove over 2 liters of toxic fluids from my body each day; those fluids were the cause of my nausea, fatigue, disorientation, loss of appetite and mental lapses that I experienced as a result of kidney failure.

But sometimes the dialysis process was uncomfortable. The fill was painful at times. Filling your body with 2 liters of fluid is not fun. It pushed and stretched my stomach area out to the max (I wondered if this is what pregnancy felt like?) And the dwell was often discomforting, keeping me awake, making me long for it to be over as soon as possible. I usually enjoyed the “drain”; there was always a sense of relief to have the fluids exit my body. And I felt good afterwards because the toxins were removed and it made me feel as light as a feather. But then within a minute or two, the new cycle would start – here we go again!

As I thought about this three-step process of dialysis, God gave me a spiritual parallel: this describes, very aptly, the process the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer to bring about holiness and transformation.

First, there is the “filling” of the Holy Spirit. While our initial experiences of being filled with the Holy Spirit might have been joyful, even euphoric (after all, we were living in darkness and the filling of the Spirit brings forth light and life), the day-in, day-out experience of being filled with Spirit can be difficult and uncomfortable. In being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are asking another Person to come and direct our lives. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means we have to de-throne our egos, our wills, our false self, our need to be right. And being filled with the Holy Spirit also means we will be stretched beyond our abilities or capabilities.

Then, there is the “dwelling” of the Spirit. Too many Christians think that the Holy Spirit’s role is to just zap us with good spiritual experiences. That has not been my usual experience with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit needs to dwell in me because there is a good, but hard work that needs to be done: holiness and transformation. So the Holy Spirit examines me. The Holy Spirit identifies the “toxins” in my life and starts pulling them out of me (ouch!). The Holy Spirit convicts me and is relentless until, out of my own volition, I face the truth and surrender areas of my life that I’ve clung onto – things that I treasure, but lead to death and harm. Now, the Holy Spirit is always loving and somehow always brings His strength and presence to help me endure His often painful work of sanctification and transformation. However, welling is no picnic by any means.

But then comes the “drain”: having removed the toxins of sin, self-centeredness, ego, harmful pride, unforgiveness, stubbornness, judgmentalism, fear, and anxiety, I now live in freedom, peace and joy! Chains come off, my eyes start to see clearly, my heart is now open to love, the Breath of God flows into me. I am becoming a new man! As the toxins go out from me, a fresh new desire to do God’s will is formed in me. That is where the Spirit inspires me to do “will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). I am moved and empowered to do things like: forgive, seek reconciliation, be generous, meet a need, encourage someone, serve, share Christ, administer compassion, go the extra mile, write a blog, etc.

And then, much like my dialysis machine, we repeat the process. The big difference is that, while my dialysis machine can only “maintain” my body, the Holy Spirit moves us forward with each fill, dwell and drain. Each cycle leads us to greater transformation and becoming more like Jesus. Each cycle brings a greater depth of life, freedom, joy, hope and faith. Each cycle brings a greater awareness of God’s amazing love and draws us unto closer union with Him.

One last thing: this metaphor is simply that: a metaphor. There is so much to the dynamic of the filling, indwelling and outpouring of the Holy Spirit than the work of holiness and transformation (things like deep experiences, signs and wonders, hearing the voice of Jesus to name a few) and the dialysis machine metaphor simply falls short.

But this metaphor helped me understand a deeper context of the Spirit’s work that often does not get discussed in the church because we don’t like to talk about the hard side of the faith (as well, we hardly hear about the theology of the Cross or God’s good work through suffering and trials). We want transformation to be all about “pleasant, self-improvement” when it is pretty much about putting our false self to death under the Divine direction and grace of God. So I hope this opens the discussion some.

Some of you are going through hard times, sufferings or trials. And the enemy wants you to believe that God has abandoned you and that there is no hope. But the truth is that the Spirit is at work in you. He is close to you. His loving, powerful presence is right there. He’s doing a hard work, but it’s a good work. Turn your heart and mind to face Him as He works to take the toxins of sin and death out of you in order to give you real life.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

First, I want to say: I’m home!

After a very successful transplant surgery and post-op recovery at Loma Linda University Medical Center, I was finally discharged on Thursday afternoon. And it’s so good to be home! Letty was discharged on Tuesday (just one day after surgery) and she is doing well, too. A little sore, but very good.

I credit our loving, good Lord for answering many, many prayers offered on our behalf by you. Everything went very smooth. Our surgeons were very pleased with their efforts. Both of Letty’s kidneys went to work right away in both of our bodies (I’m producing more urine than ever – I’m literally a “P” machine!). The Loma Linda Staff were fantastic; many of them were believers (Letty’s surgeon actually prayed with her before surgery). And I had some great spiritual conversations with my attending nurses and nurse assistants; one of them, when he heard the story of Letty donating her kidney and about our marriage of 35 years asked me the poignant question: “So, tell me, what’s the secret to your successful marriage?” Poor guy, he listened to my 3 point sermon! But I think he enjoyed it! I also had some great times with the Lord in prayer and reading; God really met with me in my hospital room. Speaking of which, the Lord worked it out so that I had a private room the whole four days of my stay. I was supposed to move out after the 2ndday, but there was no other room available for me. So here’s where “no room in the Inn” worked to my advantage! It gave me more time to have solitude, prayer, private conversations with nurses and with family members. So it was an amazing experience!

But now I’m home and while it is so good to be home, I was faced with some new challenges. I’ll let you look at it:

IMG_2543

Because I had a kidney transplant, I now have to take 16 medications at various times of the day. Some of them are twice a day. Some of them are three times a day. Some of them once a day. And two of them are only on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I have to take one of them exactly 12 hours apart, 1 hour before eating and separate from all the other meds. Yikes! I have a hard enough time taking the trash out on time once a week, much less having to manage all these meds.

As well, I have to be driven to labs and clinic twice every week. This means getting up at 4:30am, taking my labs at Loma Linda at 5:30am. Take one of my meds at 6am. Be driven to the clinic at 7am. Take an insulin shot. Eat a pre-packed breakfast (made the night before) while waiting in line at the clinic. Take the other 15 meds. Wait until 8am for the clinic to open. Meet with doctors, nurses and practitioners for about an hour as they evaluate my labs. Get my prescriptions changed, if needed. Then go home and take a nap! I am blessed to have my mom and my good friend, Gary Keith, being my chauffer for these bi-weekly treks, because I can’t drive for three weeks.

And finally, I am pretty much quarantined for the next month or so. My new kidney needs protection from my auto-immune system in order to survive. So many of these meds literally shut down my protection from viruses, bacteria and bugs. If I catch a cold or the flu, it can literally lead to pneumonia and, possibly, death. So I can’t be in public. I have to wear a mask whenever I leave the house. We have to keep the house squeaky clean. I have to wash my hands every time I pet my dog. Visitors have to be healthy and wear a mask if they visit. I can’t go to church, to the movies, to a restaurant for at least a month.

Welcome to the new Normal! It’s a lot to think about and it’s really, really different. As an extravert and one who tends to be on the disorganized side, it can seem daunting; if not impossible. But what is impossible with man is possible with God, and that’s who I’m turning to. The Lord is the One I’ve turned to throughout the season of suffering and dialysis. He’s the One I turned to after surgery in the hospital. And he will be the One to lead me through this New Normal of meds, labs, doctors visits, diet, quarantine, and keeping things clean.

So what will I do? I will “abide” in Him. Jesus talks about this in John 15. I think it’s a fundamental principle, if not the fundamental principle of being a Christ-follower. If we abide in Jesus, we will bear fruit (life, love, goodness, works, transformation, blessing). This will happen no matter what situation we find ourselves in – good, bad, free, oppressed, light, dark. And if we don’t abide in Jesus, no matter how blessed our situation is, we will wither and be good for nothing. Fundamental principle. I’m learning to abide in Jesus and hopefully, over the next few weeks I can share what I’ve been learning. Pray for me over this next month or two!

I want to end by giving a shout out to my son, Jon, who gave you all “live updates” on our surgeries. Wasn’t that awesome! And thanks to all of you who responded with texts, emails and facebook posts with your prayers and encouragement. I read them all and each of them blessed and strengthened me. I love you all so very much. With  my whole heart (and new kidney), I thank you!

Doug

Read Full Post »

Made Alive … Again!

  1. “Come and listen, all you fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me.” Psalm 66:14

This is Doug writing from Loma Linda University Medical Center. Praise Jesus! 

I’m doing well. I am feeling great. And Letty’s kidney is working wonderfully! I feel like a new man. Because of Jesus I am made alive again!

Letty is also recovering well. She’s a little sore but she might be released by tomorrow. I am in ICU right now and will be moved to a regular room eventually. But I’m feeling pretty strong and I even got to walk around this morning.

Thank you all so very much for your constant prayers for us! We felt God throughout this entire process. And special thanks to my son, Jon, who gave us live updates on the whole life worship blog.

And all praise to our Lord Jesus Christ who guided us throughout this entire time. Here is a picture that was hanging in the lobby of the hospital. It expresses it all:


I have so many stories to tell you about this journey. I look forward to sharing them with you in the upcoming weeks. But until then, thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Because of them, Christ has made me alive again!

Read Full Post »

Live Update #6

Dad is out of a successful operation and they have him in the recovery room as they wait for him to wake up and his room to become available. We plan to visit him as soon as they let us.

We’re with Mom right now (she’s got a room now!) as she gets some rest from the operation. She’s still a little sore, but talking and telling us about the whole experience. 

Everything looks great so far, thank you all for the prayers! Please keep them in your prayers as they take their first steps in recovery. We’ll try to keep you updated throughout this process. God bless.

-Jon

Read Full Post »

Live Update #5

Just visited Mom post-surgery, she’s a little sore and groggy but doctors say all her vitals are looking good! Though, we only had a little bit of time with her as we’re currently waiting for a room. Once she is moved into her room we can spend as much time as we want with her.

Dad is still undergoing surgery. Keep him and the doctors in your prayers.

Thank you all and God bless!

-Jon

Read Full Post »

Live Update #3

Mom’s surgery seems to have gone well: The doctors have told us she is doing fine and they are about to take out the kidney (they’re sending us updates through texts!) 

Simultaneously, they have taken Dad into surgery and he is in high spirits. The operation should be a few hours.

Please continue to pray, we appreciate all of it!

-Jon

Read Full Post »

Live Update #2

Hey all, Jon here. Dad asked me to send updates when something happens.

Right now dad is sitting in bed waiting until 9 and then they’ll take him into surgery. 

Prayer Request: Doctor says that his potassium levels are a little high, but it looks as though they’re still going through with the operation. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »