Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preparing the way

Today's Reading: Isaiah 40:3-5 NIV
3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Good morning!

I've been studying the book of Isaiah this year with my friends at Bible Study Fellowship International. Every Wednesday morning my friend Vickey picks me up and we ride together. I've attended a lot of different Bible studies over the years, but this one is truly special. The Word of God literally leaps off the page each week as we discuss the assigned chapters. I am thankful to be a participant in this group.

The Holy Scripture sometimes speaks literally to you and me. I had this experience with Scripture just last week. If you are fifty years or older, you may be able to relate to the story I am about to share. Once we baby boomers reach this perfect age, we get the joy and privilege of experiencing a medical test known as colonoscopy. For those who may not be familiar, a colonoscopy checks the health of your colon. It is a very important medical test and could very well save your life. The test itself is not so bad: you sleep right through it and it is virtually pain free, with the exception of a little indigestion and gas afterward. The worst part of this test is the preparation. In order for the surgeon to get a good look at what is going on inside your colon, you need to be really clean, and that is not an easy thing to accomplish when it comes to your colon.

The large intestine is made up of four main sections: the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and the sigmoid colon. The total length of the large intestine is approximately six feet. It winds around inside your abdomen, doing the work of eliminating undigested food and other waste products in your body. It is a challenge to clean out an entire colon, and to do it, one must stop eating for a period of time, drink only clear liquids, and ingest laxatives to flush the colon of its waste. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Last week, I underwent a colon cleanse to prepare for my second colonoscopy. The first colonoscopy was performed three years ago, and at the time, I had several precancerous polyps removed. The doctor probably saved my life that day during the procedure. Unfortunately, I had a complication after the test, a hemorrhage which took me back to the hospital for a week, followed by iron replacement for a year. As you may imagine, I was not looking forward to this second colonoscopy.

Before I started the prep, I began to pray for the Lord's help in cleansing out the dark places inside my belly. I began to pray out loud the words of Isaiah, as he prophesied of the coming Savior: "Dear Lord," I cried, "In this desert, prepare the way. Make straight in the wilderness a highway for my God. Every valley shall be raised up and every mountain and hill made low, the rough ground shall become level and the rugged places a plain. For the glory of my Lord will be revealed in this test." All day long, I repeated these words as I focused on how God was cleaning out the nasty stuff inside of me. You see, expunging sin is not an easy process. It hurts to let go of the things that are literally killing you. Just like a diet rich in fat and red meat can clog and contaminate your colon, a life of sin can clog and contaminate your heart. Only God can fully cleanse us from the sins that are eating us alive, but the process of letting go of our hurts and hang-ups is not a pleasant experience.

Sometimes we need to deal with our sins head-on. We need to hurt and cramp and feel sickened by the rotten things we've said and done. It takes a sincere repentance, not just mere words, to reach the Father's ear. He knows us from the inside out. He created us with the uncanny ability to be honest about who we are and whose we are. It is only after we've confessed our sins, let go of our stuff, and humbly ask for His healing, that our lives become truly clean.

My procedure went better than expected. It was necessary to take a few biopsies of the colon to ensure there were no diseases to address. What amazed me were the pictures taken during surgery: what a change from just three years ago! Healthy, pink tissue replaced darkened scars from the polyps removed back then. Not only was I healed, the scars were gone! God absolutely healed me from the inside out. What could have once taken my life is no longer a threat, and for this gift, I am forever grateful to the Master healer.

The surgical report said, "Excellent bowel prep." The doctor told me in recovery that I was squeaky clean! I would imagine that is not always the case with folks who come in for colonoscopy. I knew that my God had cleaned me out from top to bottom. He made the rough places straight. God can do this for you too - all you have to do is ask.

I couldn't help but imagine what it will be like on the day when I am completely free from sin, rising up from this world and flying straight into the arms of my Savior, Jesus Christ. His blood completely heals me. He covers me and makes me righteous and clean before the Father. I cannot do this by myself. It's certainly not about being good enough or earning this privilege. I don't even deserve God's gift of salvation. Only Jesus can remove my imperfections forever. It's a matter of grace.

I would strongly encourage all of you to get a routine colonoscopy. I have a great doctor and would be happy to share his contact information if you are looking for a great physician. I would beg you to let Jesus Christ cleanse you from the sins you carry around in your life. He can free you to be the person you were created to be. Ask Jesus to wash you clean from the inside out today. It will be an experience you will never ever forget.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Copyright 2011, Deb Spaulding
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