Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I talked by phone with a friend this morning. The news was not good. I certainly don't believe that doctors have the final word about the future, but the news was not good. I've been asked not to give specifics as to names and details, and won't, but for our kids sake, I will say it was ministry related not family related, to relieve any incorrect conclusions.

My wife and I watched a movie on Labor day starring Michael Keeton where he was diagnosed with terminal cancer as his wife was carrying their first child. Told he would die before the birth of the baby, he began video taping himself telling of his childhood, shaving the proper way, reading bedtime stories, and a host of other little things, all so his child one day would be able to know his daddy. He lived to hold his child, while bringing some healing to the bad relationships of his family of origin, and, all in all, it was a good movie to watch.

But I got to thinking...

Then this morning, in preparation for preaching in the Houston area next Sunday, I read Psalm 91. One verse struck me. Verse 13 says..."Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." I know this is a psalm with specific reference to the Messiah's victory over evil. I know also it is a personal thing because the devil quoted verses 11 and 12 in the middle of the temptation experience. "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone." [Or as one translation says..'so you won't even stub your toe.']

In putting these together in my thoughts here's what came out. The lion, the adder, the dragon, as one writer said, certainly remind us of certain kinds of dreadful events. The lion, could be seen as that undisguised thing that happens to us like disease or death. The adder, perhaps the unexpected things as accidents, and the dragon, the unfounded things we fear which never come to pass. [Dragons aren't suppose to exist.] All speak of painful, hurtful, even tragic things that happen. It's spoken to the Messiah, as I said, and is why He didn't need to fear anything. It follows verse 12 which the devil tried to use to get Jesus to operate in the power of His Divine nature to no avail. So the whole thing is personal to Him.

But the thing that intrigues me is that while Jesus was promised the Angels were assigned to protect Him from all this so He had no reason to fear what He saw, couldn't see, or the worst thing He could imagine, He still endured rejection, severe beatings, family abandonment, and finally the crucifixion. Did the Angels forget to bear Him up and over those hurtful things? He said He could have called and they would have. But He didn't and they didn't. He thus attested to the fact that the lion, adder, and dragon kind of things can happen to Him and to us. These identifiable, unexpected, and sometimes, self imposed painful things really do happen to us as the children of God. No badge of exclusion can be worn by anyone.

Maybe the goal in life is not the escaping of the lion, the adder, or the dragon. Maybe we have no reason to fear them because they are not the real issue. Maybe the purpose of God is. Jesus fulfilled His purpose and we certainly know what that was and are eternally grateful. Maybe we should just fulfill our purpose too. When that's done, whatever the doctor says, however long we last in life, whatever pleasant or unpleasant things happen to transpire, maybe life is real life because it is measured in terms of purpose more than in length of days or absence of pain or discomfort. Maybe that's what "well done" is all about.

And that's what I was thinking...

Just a thought after my conversation with a friend today. I realize this may be more personal than professional, but, since I'm the former and certainly not the latter, I'll post it anyway.

Paul Burleson


Paul said...


One of the first things that came to mind in reading this are the apostle Paul's words in 1 Cor. 15 when he says, "Death, where is your victory. Death, where is your sting?" He certainly wasn't denying death as a reality and I'm pretty sure he wasn't telling the Corinthians to "put on a happy face" in the face of death. But it does appear that he was telling them and us that there is both a victory through death as well as an ultimate victory from death.

Thanks for giving me something to think about and to share with those I know who are battling their own lions, adders and dragons.

Alycelee said...

A wonderful insight. How much do we often try and escape where God has us, when He has us right where He wants us.
I had an experience with God a little over a year ago, with my health. While I believe in healing and the power of prayer, I felt impressed not to pray to be healed, but to pray that I would learn to be strong in God through my weakness. That year was a year of the most wonderful growth for me. After that year, spending most of my off time in bed or on the couch, I pointed out to God that I could not be effective for him on the couch, and I also believed that my effective days for Christ were ahead of me, not behind. It was there that my healing began and continues today.
God is so good and His mercies endure forever.

Bob Cleveland said...

Most thought provoking. Well I guess it was; took me two days to think of something to say.

Let's start with a premise: We're not human beings having spiritual experiences, but rather spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.

Second, all this stuff on earth for these few years is merely preparation for a spell in heaven that's so long it cannot be described.

Third, the objective of all this is not just to get me to heaven, but to prepare the "Bride" to be united with Jesus in heaven.

If that's true in the macrocosm, it's true in the microcosm. If the purpose of Jesus building His church is preparation for eternity in heaven, then so was my wife's cancer.

We go awry every time consciously, or subconsiously, we think it's about us. It just isn't.

SigPres said...

There have been more than a few times when I saw lions, adders and dragons down the road, and took a detour to avoid running into them. I'm very grateful that God is patient and graceful, and waited until I decided to face them, not in my own strength, but trusting in His.

Oh, Bob, are you so right! It just isn't about us. But how great and wonderful is the love of God for allowing us to wander off the path and protecting, and even blessing us while we are wandering.