Liver Disease Part 2: This World Is Not My Home

“This world is not my home I’m just a passing through…” I think I’ve had that song hammered into my head with just about every other song in “Hymns for Worship” for the last 14 years. I never really thought much about that song until I was faced with this world quite literally no longer being my home. The last few years living with liver disease has made me come to the grim reality that death is coming for us all and there is nothing we can do but to be ready for it.

As I was studying for months on end about the liver and various natural treatments for it I began to think about a few verses I had started to memorize in September 2015:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” –Philippians 3:20-21

What was I trying to do? Was I aiming to stay here forever? Was I looking forward to going home to heaven? As I began to answer those questions I began to realize I was falling short in a few places:

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” – Matthew 19:26

See I’d go to the vitamin stores, health food stores, meet up with farmers for odd things like raw milk, and as a result I started to have a serious control issue. I started to move once again back into the belief that I was going to solve this disease and I was the one with all of the answers. Yet, daily I was getting sicker and struggling with a ring around my neck that drove me crazy.

Finally, in April of this year on a Thursday after having pizza with friends, I was walking up the stairs to a store in Stevens Point and that’s when I heard the noise in my left knee. About 24 hours later I was in a world of pain just like my right knee and totally distraught over it. God had allowed both of my knees to be broken in the sense that they were no longer able to get me up the stairs to my bedroom or in the house without crutches, I couldn’t even get into the church building without a ramp to which I was terribly embarrassed I had to use.

Then about 2 months later over memorial weekend I was driving and when I turned to the left to look for traffic before getting onto the highway I heard a pop. Immediately I knew the same thing I had happen in my knees was happening to my neck. Faced with the reality that I was slowly still dying, I was beginning to realize I was being humbled by God.

I had been reading through the bible cover to cover and decided to finish by the end of June. About a hundred things came to mind from all the reading I had done, mostly about pride. I was relying on my own strength and what I realized was much like king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, I needed to be humbled. For so long I had been mad at God trying to figure out how He could possibly allow things like this to happen to me, didn’t He care?

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” –John 8:28

How was liver disease working together for my good? A friend of mine in Tampa Florida where the crime rate is really high had a salesman at his door asking if he wanted to buy a security system to keep his family safe from burglary. He said, “God is our security system. If we need something God will make sure we have it and if someone breaks in our home then we must not need the item that was stolen.” I can only imagine what the salesman’s look must have been. It’s such a foreign thought to people that one would not want to protect their possessions.

After much thought about this I have begun to have a saying “God won’t send me out for a task without the proper tools for the job. If I need something God will provide it and if I don’t have something it must not be needed for the task ahead.”

The first question I needed to answer and hadn’t even thought to ask God was what did He need me to do? The first thing I determined He needed me to do was humble myself and realize no matter how many things I tried to heal my liver it wasn’t by my strength I was going to get better. I needed to acknowledge that it was with God all things are possible. The second thing I needed to realize is that God might not have the same plan that I had. My plan was to live on this planet for as long as possible and enjoy it. Then I was reading the book of John one day and something came to mind:

“”Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”” –John 21:18-22

Have I ever mentioned how much I relate to Peter? Or that if anyone asked me what Apostle or bible character I think I am most like it would be Peter? Okay, so I have said it several times in the Anxiety and depression series but seriously I’m telling you I am most like the Apostle Peter and here is just another passage that makes me realize just how much like him I really am.

I have been praying for years for whatever was wrong with me to go away and to have picture perfect health. However, I had never once asked for God’s will to be done in all of this.

“So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” -John 8:28

I’m often just like Peter asking God “what about that person? Why not someone else have this and I get better?” What I’m failing to realize is that my job is really to lay down my will. All things are possible with God but that doesn’t make Him a magic genie who grants all of my wishes. I often times need to rethink things and realize that this isn’t my life, I gave to God the day I was baptized. I need to trust that His plans are better than mine because He is the all knowing God who is working everything out for the good of those who love Him.

“”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”       –Isaiah 55:8-9

What I’ve learned from having liver disease and reading my entire bible two and a quarter times this year, is that I know nothing compared to God. I thought the best thing that could happen was that my liver and body in general could be healed. I’ve since realized that this world is not my home and what I needed was some trying health conditions to heal my spiritual life. God has used my liver disease to save my soul and that God’s way of working all things to my good.

Reading my bible has also made me realize nothing can happen unless God wills it:

“Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.” –John 10:39

“Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” –John 8:59

“So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” –Luke 4:28-30

Many times the Jews attempted to kill Jesus but no matter how hard they tried it could not be done because until it was God’s will and time Jesus could not die. Applying this to liver disease or any other health problems means that we cannot die until God wills it to happen. I’ve been given a death sentence on more than one occasion and the reason why I keep laughing at doctors is that they are not God. They can tell me my heart or liver is going to die by such and such a time but that can’t happen until God says it is time.

People think I’m nuts for firing all of my doctors who recommend transplant and all sorts of drugs to keep me alive, in exchange for a natural lifestyle to try reversing my diseases. I’m not scared because God is in control and until He says it’s time nothing can happen to me, better yet His will may not even be for me to die.

As for the question why is this happening to me? Let’s go back to that passage with Peter:

“”Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”” –John 21:18-22

I’ve come to come to terms with my Peter like mindset; the reality is that at times I’m going to go through some terrible things in this life. However, that doesn’t bother me anymore because I know that my condition is being used to glorify God. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that my battle with liver disease has encouraged them or how many doctors I get to talk to them about Jesus. My liver disease is not only saving my life but it is also glorifying God, making my joy complete. On those days that I feel like I can’t do it anymore I carry a bottle, have a key chain in my pocket, and wear a shirt that reminds me of this:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”                           –Philippians 4:13

 

 

17 thoughts on “Liver Disease Part 2: This World Is Not My Home”

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