Pressing On for the Prize… From Prison

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prisonI have pondered the life of Joseph a great deal in the last few weeks.  His life has always inspired me to “bloom where I am planted.”

If you are still following along in Loving God with All Your Mind, you may have noticed that the recent chapters are…similar.  I won’t say redundant, but similar enough that I am combining Chapters 13 and 14 for the purpose of this post.

Back to Joseph…what a tough life he had!  Sold into slavery as a youth, by his own brothers no less, he came to be a servant of Potiphar, an Egyptian official.  He could have wallowed in self-pity over what had happened to him, but he was diligent to be the best servant he could be for Potiphar.  His efforts paid off and he was made head of Potiphar’s house.  He was a upright man who several times had thwarted the sexual advances of his employers wife.  She was a piece of work who would not take no for an answer.  The final time he refused her, he did so by literally running out of the palace, leaving his cloak behind in her hands.  She devised an evil scheme, accusing him of raping her, and had him thrown into prison.

I would have found myself weeping in the corner after this!  “This is not fair!  Why is this happening to me?”  I could go on, but you get the idea.  I’m sure he struggled, after all, he was human.  He didn’t have the lawyers we have today who would take on his case and make sure a jury of his peers heard him out and justice was served.  So again, he determined to give all he had into being an upright prisoner.  Eventually he was giving a leadership role over entire prison!

I won’t go into all of Joseph’s life, but suffice it to say, he spent a great deal of it belonging to someone else.  His life was not his own.  He was in bondage.  Yet what a wonderful example of the verses in Philippians on which we have been focusing.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

 

Forgetting What Lies Behind

Joseph’s life was one crisis after another.  Slavery. Falsely imprisoned.  Disregarded after he had helped another.  He likely wondered if he would EVER be free again!  He HAD to put his past behind him in order to function with diligence each day.  You cannot achieve that kind of attentiveness to one’s job by dwelling on the past.  He had so many reasons to be bitter, but he did not allow himself.  The fact that he was able to forgive his brothers in the end, proves this fact.

Looking Forward to What Lies Ahead

How else could he continue on each day?  He must have had hope!  He didn’t get trapped into worrying about the future, as we so often do.  But he did his best, obviously in part to hopefully one day being set free.  I’m sure there were days he wanted to despair, but he must have been firm in his decision to keep a forward focus.

Press Toward the Prize

Our prize?  That call we will receive from Christ to meet Him in the heavens.  Joseph’s?  That call from the powers that be that he was finally free.  Sometimes just looking ahead is not enough.  We must look all the way to the finish line!  Christ Jesus for eternity!  If we were just looking ahead with no end in sight, we would falter.  Eventually Joseph was made a ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.  What a blessed prize!

What is Your Prison?

I hope this analogy will make sense so some of you.  I am probably not alone in feeling as if I am being held captive by something.  There are so many possible scenarios, but I need to just share what is on my heart tonight.  My prison…is pain.  I do not have control over it.  It has control over me.  I am held captive by it, every day.  Granted, the verses in Philippians are given for us to press on in the Christian life, waiting Christ’s return.  But as I just shared in the life of Joseph, I too feel like a prisoner.

One of the sections in Chapter 14 is titled “Existing…or Serving?”  Those three words have a huge impact on me.  As a believer I am called to serve, the scripture is clear about that.  But many days I am not able to serve.  To be totally honest, I should say I am not able to serve in the ways I WANT to serve.  Acknowledging that, many days I feel as is I am just existing.  Some of that is a choice on my part.  Even in my captivity to fibromyalgia, I must “forget what lies behind, strain forward to what lies ahead, and press toward the prize.”

What lies behind would have to be my youth and good health.  No good would come from whining about what once was.

Straining forward to what lies ahead – I am certainly straining!  I have turned my diet totally upside down with the hopes that healing my body will rid me of pain.  DNA testing to find defective genes that prevent me from utilizing nutrients in the way my body should…I am coming to the end of the road in finding healing in my fibromyalgia.  Sure, there are lots of things I haven’t tried to deal with the pain.  I desire though, is healing, if possible.

Two of my doctors feel, after much testing and work, that there may be an issue within my brain that is causing my pain.  With an autoimmune disease, the body is inflamed.  Obviously, the brain is part of the body, so it can be having an inflammatory reaction as much as other areas.  The brain controls the rest of the body, so when it gets inflamed, the signals it is supposed to be sending to the rest of the body are sometimes too slow and other times too rapid.  Today I will begin Clark Brain Based Rehab with Dr. David Clark in Durham.  He calls it “taking my brain to the gym.”  Here is a portion of an email he sent me so I could do some research.

Some of the tests performed will be:

Functional Neurology Physical Examinations – standard neurological examination techniques to assess the health of the cerebellum, cortex, brainstem, cranial nerves, spinal cord

Videonystagmography (VNG) evaluates the movements of the eyes as they follow a moving target or as the head is positioned in different directions in order to locate functional or cognitive brain impairments in the vestibular system, the vestibulo-ocular reflex as well as the cerebellum, midbrain, lower brainstem and frontal lobes

Saccadometry – measures eye movements called SACCADES. How fast, how accurate and how latent these movements are point specifically to dysfunctions in the frontal lobes, cerebellum, midbrain, basal ganglia and other areas.

We use your baseline readings to compare against and objectively measure your improvement.

Brain Based Rehab treats the NEUROLOGICAL dysfunction by strengthening weak areas and slowing down or speeding up the function of specific areas such as: cerebellum, brainstem, frontal lobe, basal ganglia.

We can do this by using (not a complete list)
Specific kinds of somatosensory stimulation (below) to affect specific parts of the brain:
light
sound
vibration
isometric exercise
complex, multi joint movements
Positive Pressure Therapy
Tilt Table Therapy (or similar)
Modified Vestibular Rehab Therapy – uses head movements (passive & active) coupled with eye positions to recalibrate and exercise the frontal lobes, cerebellum, upper and lower brainstem
Eye Movement Exercises – by manipulating the variables of direction, speed, color of target, we can use saccades, microsaccades and pursuits to create positive change in the basal ganglia, upper and lower brainstem, cerebellum, frontal lobes and parietal lobes.

 

I will be at Dr. Clark’s office Monday through Thursday, for at least 4 hours each day.  Each day consists of 4 sessions with breaks in between.  To say that I am nervous about this is an understatement.  As I’ve searched within myself as to why I’m so nervous, I think the reason is that there is so much riding on this week.  This is pretty much my “Hail Mary,” to use a sports term, in terms of anything other than a miraculous healing of my fibromyalgia.  If this is not successful, then there really isn’t anything else to seek in terms of a cure at this time.  At that point it will be a matter of the best way to relieve pain.  If that is the path God chooses for me, I will accept that and continue on each day in the grace He bestows on me in that weakness.  But my heart hopes to be free from this prison, as Joseph daily had that hope to be a free man.

Pressing Toward the Prize – Basically this week will determine the rest of the game for me.  If this “Hail Mary” is successful…I can’t even imagine!  So I ask that you would please pray for me this week, that I would have the strength to hold up to the schedule of each day and that I would trust God and His purposes for me.  Obviously, I would love to be healed, but I pray that would happen according to His will.  Not my will, but His. 

 

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