A Stroll At Leisure With God

No Addition, No Subtraction

After dealing with cancer for over five years now, I have a lot more respect for athletes with long rehabs who are out of action for a long time and then come back. It happens all the time in the major college and pro sports. And, I won’t speak for others at this point, just me. But I don’t even think much about these injured players, but “all of sudden” (and the reality is that it is anything but THAT), they reappear at some point, and I say, “Oh, yeah. I haven’t seen John Smith for over a year. Oh, yeah. He had a serious knee injury or whatever.”

Please understand: I do not put myself on the same level as any top-notch college or pro athlete. I am just trying to figure out some category of comparison to what is going on with me and how I feel.

When I am not preaching (like yesterday), Sundays feel as if they last forever. They are the longest days.

I miss going to church. I miss seeing the people. I miss preaching—desperately.

Having said all of that, do I feel that staying home was a bad decision? No. The truth is that I was not up to going. Saturday was a very tough day. Sunday morning was a little better, but as the day progressed, I declined.

I actually had hoped that I could go to a fellowship last night. Connor and Jess had invited the folks in their Community Group to come to their home on this side of town for a fellowship last night. They had invited me. I was hoping to go, but at the end of the day, I just knew I couldn’t do it.

It was as if the Holy Spirit said, “Ah, John. Stay in rehab today.” Okay. Got it.

I honestly believe that the greatest challenge with a long-term illness or injury is not physical. It is mental. Marvin, the young man in our church who injured both of his legs and was out of pocket for several months (by the way, he is doing much better now; I think he is back to work or close to it; I need to touch base with him this week), said as much to me when I visited with him a few months ago.

Marvin has been an example to me about how to go through long-term “rehab.” Thanks, brother!

In a sense, Qoheleth or the Preacher—the human but unnamed author of Ecclesiastes (a lot of folks think the author is Solomon; who knows?)—was in the same boat. His search for the meaning of life took him out of the game, so to speak. It allowed him to try all the extremes to see if any of them could make him happy and give him fulfillment. And we all know the ultimate result of that search.

But along the way, he learned a lot. Here is one nugget of wisdom: “I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God” (Ecclesiastes
3:14-15 MSG).

An interesting phrase in Peterson’s translation of these verses—“no addition, no subtraction.” Of course, we would like it. We think it would benefit us. But God doesn’t need our help, and everything He does is complete and solid and adequate. Even though I do it, we don’t need to question what He does. Our role is simply to worship Him.

On first glance, these verses appear to have a tinge of fatalism—que sera, sera—as Doris Day sings it. But that is NOT what the Preacher is saying. He is affirming God’s sovereignty. The Lord takes care of the past, the present, and the future.

Lord, thank You for these very difficult, long, and hard days when I am in rehab. Thanks for helping Marvin do better and recover. Thanks for this dear brother and the example he has been to me. I continue to lift him up. I’m glad, Lord, You are not into “math,” at least not addition and subtraction. I worship You today. I know I can count on You. Amen.
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