I am in the process of writing a book about my journey with ALS but first I feel a blog is in order. I am on an amazing spiritual journey.
God spoke to me when I first started having symptoms, not audibly, but He spoke into my heart and I listened. He told me He was calling me to the disciplined life of an Olympic athlete. I am not an athlete so I knew it meant a life of challenges and commitment.
I thought a lot about the challenges ahead, life span of 3-5 years and progressive muscle loss until not even my eye muscles would work, Over the next few weeks and months I began to lose my ability to speak and some of my swallowing ability. I struggled with breathing problems and was on a Nebulizer a couple times but strangely the muscles in my limbs were not being affected.
Subconsciously, I was thinking the only way God could receive glory for ALS was by healing so I began to seek out prayer for healing. I am a strong believer in spiritual healing so I went to the church elders, to a Christian couple who balance the body’s electrolytes, to the Prayer Ministry at St. Aiden’s church, reviewed many healing seminars I had attended in the past and finally went to the AirPort Church in Toronto. While others were there seeking God’s presence I was seeking healing and many people graciously prayed for me.
I was surprised a few weeks later to have my ALS doctor in Saskatoon say, “This is benign.” I’d only heard term applied to cancer. I do not have breathing problems anymore, no more jumping muscles, no weight loss, still living on my own, driving and walking.
So here I am into my eighth year and still can’t speak, I can eat soft foods but have a feeding tube for liquids. In the light of my benign ALS I wonder now how long I will live? Will it run it’s course? Will I be totally incapacitated some day?
I have read the book, Disappointment With God, by Phillip Yancy and I loved the analogy he used regarding the conversation between Satan and God. In a nutshell – Satan said the only reason Job praised God was because of all the blessings he got. God replied that Job would still praise him even without the blessings. Yancy calls this the great wager. Satan bets Job won’t, God bets Job will. We all know the end of the story. Job continues to praise God in spite of all his afflictions.
What Yancy says next is lodged in my heart. His premise is that whenever we, like Job, praise the Lord in difficulties, God wins again. So I realize, yes, God can receive glory from my ALS even if I am not completely healed. As long as I praise Him in the midst of my afflictions, God is glorified so I will continue to praise the Lord day and night.
At the same time I am making preparations for the future. Many ALS patients decide, after months and years of living with the disease, that they want to end their lives now! And they want to pull other human beings into the process. ALS eventually destroys all the muscles in the body, except for heart, lungs, bowels, sight and sound. IT DOES NOT AFFECT THE MIND. So when a person is incapacitated, they still hear, see and understand what is going on. I like to be prepared.
Here is my plan. The Lord has given me a vibrant prayer ministry. I do not just ask the Lord to bless people or to be with them, He has already promised those things. I pray for my own family, my church family and also for people who do not have family members to pray for them; for people in high places, like Suzuki and Hawking; for prodigals and reprobates, I bind them to the Lord and loose the enemy’s influence over them and I will continue to pray after all my muscles have crashed. Hopefully, people will continue to give me prayer requests.
I learned from a 99 year old lady, to draw up an alphabetical list of scripture verses to focus on. I have done this also with attributes of God: Almighty, Beloved, Creator; Deliverer, Father, etc. It can also be done with hymns. I’m sure the Lord will give me even more ideas to keep my mind and spirit active and vibrant after my body has given out. It has been and will continue to be a remarkable spiritual experience.
Are you living with the threat of death hanging over you? Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin, so Jesus, who was without sin, took your sin to the cross and shed His blood in place of yours. Then He rose from the dead and conquered death. Accept that gift and begin to praise Him today. Be prepared.