Several years ago, I spent 5 happy days in Melbourne catching up with friends. My unexpected trip was a thoughtful gift from my childhood schoolmate, Maheshini. My friend said she wanted to thank me for praying for her and her family over the years, so presented me with a visit to her home, showering me with generous hospitality. Wasn’t that lovely of her? (Thank you Maheshini) It was a great holiday. I returned home rejuvenated and with a treasure chest of happy memories.
My first day and night in Melbourne was at my friend Shiranthi’s. Shiranthi went the extra mile to give me a wonderful time. (Thanks Shiranthi) She even drove the extra mile the next afternoon by taking me all the way to Maheshini’s home. When I reached my destination, I was shown into a spacious room where I would spend a few days. But as I unpacked, I received a rude shock. I discovered that I’d forgotten something vitally important. My thyroxin medication. Oh dear… oh dear… oh dear. Whatever should I do? Consternation seized me - a bull terrier that had grabbed my ankle and wouldn’t let it go.
I hated to cause inconvenience but had little choice. Maheshini kindly drove me all the way back to Shiranthi’s to fetch my medication. Problem solved. But it had it cost my friend a long drive. It had also cost me a lot of angst in the discovery and lots of guilt because I had to bother her. So did I learn my lesson? Apparently not!
Fast forward 30 months. 2 ½ years later. I was at the River Glenn Conference Centre in Brisbane, after an invigorating conference, my bags packed, waiting to be picked up by another special friend. Aruni and her husband took me back to their stunning home and once again I was deeply blessed by their warm hospitality. (Thanks Aruni) Then too, it didn’t take long for me to make my big discovery. Where was my thyroxin? Oh no! I’d omitted to get it from the fridge before I left the premises. I’d done it again. A different state and different capital city but same action. (Will I never learn?)
This time though, there was a difference. Did it cause me any angst? Absolutely not. Did any feathers get ruffled? Nope. Did I worry about it? Not at all. Did I need to ask Aruni to take me back to the River Glenn centre? No again. What caused my different attitude then? I’d discovered over the years that the exhaustion and aches which beset me too often – were not caused by my lack of thyroxin. It was caused instead by an illness called fibromyalgia. So this time round, I didn’t panic. I didn’t even need to whisper a word about it to my kind hostess. I knew I would be fine. And I was right. I didn’t fall into a slump of exhaustion the next day after missing my daily thyroxin.
The fresh wisdom the intervening years had brought me made all the difference. Before and After! There are times when the before and after stories are radical, don't you think? Like when you have a life altering experience which clearly defines your story. My life before and after Jesus is something I love to shout from the rooftops. Before Jesus entered my life – I didn’t have a sense of direction or purpose. Now I know where I am headed; I know what my life is about. Before – my friendships were not as close. After – He's shown me how to open my heart to others. Before, bad times didn’t make sense. Now – I know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Before, I knew I was tainted with sin, but didn't know what to do about it. Now, I am free - forgiven and loved. Before – I didn’t know what contentment really meant. Now – He splashes my life with His joy.
Don’t get me wrong. My life isn’t perfect. It isn’t strung together all the time like a gorgeous pearl necklace. On the contrary, all too often those pearls seem to drop off and roll away and I can’t find them. But – yes, there is a big BUT! Now – He whispers words of encouragement and hope when I need them. Now – there is depth and purpose in a way I didn’t have before. Now, my difficult seasons often lead to soul growth. Now I have a family of God around me – a huge amazing family I had not known before whom I love dearly.
Before and After. Then and Now. Before Jesus and After Jesus. And oh what comfort He brings. Last week, I was very discouraged about my long term ill-health. Jesus whispered words of encouragement to me through His precious Word. He reminded me that He has come through for me before and worked miracles in other impossible situations. He told me that I can trust Him in this too. When He shows me the big picture of God's amazing story, my own little troubles fade away into insignificance.
Before and After. What a difference.
And yes, Jesus made the difference!
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."