The alarm goes off this morning, and Charlie Brown is aroused in more than one way 😉 Mmmm, Sunday morning worship starts early when we come together….but then….the phone rings. Sunday morning before 8 o’clock pretty much guarantees it is not a telemarketer, so Charlie Brown extricates himself from my entangled limbs and, in one fell swoop (sorta) leaps to the phone. I giggle at this boyish gesture.

It’s his dad. Charlie Brown Sr. has a a really close friend who has been in dire health lately. He began having health issues this fall, when finally it was discovered he had lupus – typically a female autoimmune disorder. Non-stop dialysis is administered, and he gets dramatically better. Last month, though, he had to be flight-for-lifed to University Hospital in Denver. He’s been touch and go for a few weeks and then a discovery is made – the tube placed inside him to aid with dialysis has been leaking the toxic fluids back into his body, and as a result, there was actually MOLD present in the lining of his stomach! He started to do better as they cleaned him out, but then a new issue, for which FIL is calling, arises.

It’s strange for FIL to call on a Sunday morning, as they as well as we are getting ready for church. We answer the phone with baited breath, half expecting to hear of our friend’s passing. Sadly, he’s had more struggles. Apparently, the friend’s stomach enlarged very rapidly over the last 24 hours. After a CT scan and MRI, the doctors learned that the friend’s large intestine had ruptured and again, the equivalent of raw sewage was seeping into his system. Emergency surgery had been performed though the doctors did not expect our friend to make it. He did, and now it’s a wait and see game.

Charlie Brown scrambles to find the words of consolation and encouragement – this has always been hard for him. I hear him weakly utter the trite and true expression, “Well, they say God doesn’t give us more than we can bear…” He adds that our church family is praying for our friend. This is hard for Charlie Brown as his father is usually so stoic, and this situation is really wearing him down. The call soon ends on the premise that we all have to get going.

We’re late for church. Sunday studies begin at 9, and we enter the building at 9:20. We drop the children off at their respective classes and try to discreetly enter ours – to no avail, the class is in circle formation, with only two seats left. We settle in and by the sounds of it, they’ve only just started the study – most likely having been in prayer prior to.

Our Sunday study is on the book of Galatians, and it is so meaningful to me. We go to a church which can have a reputation for being sectarian and on the legalistic side. To study the book which is commonly referred to as the Magna Charta of the early Christian church, which focuses on the principle of justification by faith in Jesus Christ and denounces the idea that we can save ourselves by our actions is a thought-provoking exercise in our body.

Galatians 3 was the text for the day. The following points were made:
– Abraham was not under Mosaic Law; his following God was based on faith
– God’s promise to Abraham is a foreshadowing of the fact that Christianity will be for all who believe
– The key word in v.10 is rely; observing the Law in itself was not a bad thing – these were, after all moral tenets of the Lord, but for people to incorporate the Law into the Christian faith as a requirement for salvation was inherently wrong
– V. 21-29 critical to us today

The elder who was leading our discussion shared this tidbit:
As a young man, he had been ensnared in a handful of sins. He said that he would pray every night for God to release him from these sins, to help him conquer them, and yet, without fail he would fall. He said that he finally came to a decision to stop focusing on trying not to sin, but instead come to know the Lord with more understanding. He said that as God became his focus, he became more and more steadfast against these sins, until he was at last victorious.

Then a wise man in our body agreed, and clarified it like this:
“I can either say ‘I won’t cheat on my wife b/c adultery is a sin,’ or I can say, ‘I love her so much I would never even think about hurting her in such a visceral way.’ And, that means not only physical infidelity, but the way I look at other women, the way I think, etc. In this frame of mind, it’s not a right or wrong issue, but a love and heart issue. We parent our children this way, hoping that at some point after they’ve left us, they will continue behaving as we instructed them growing up, not out of robotic obedience, but b/c they embrace those choices for themselves. Same thing with God, He wants us to avoid certain things, not because they’re wrong and bad – (even though they are) but more b/c He told us not to and we are choosing to obey and honor Him. Likewise, the things we are commanded to do, should not be done obligingly but with a heart that wants to please Him.”

In other words, we need to live accordingly with our faith, and let the spirit of Christ in our hearts transform our behaviors. If we focus on the shoulds and should nots instead of getting to know the heart of our God, we’re always going to come up short, b/c that is living under law.

Good good stuff….I soak it up.

After worship and a lesson, the parade of prayer requests come. Normally this is really short and sweet, but we had some heart wrenching prayer requests. Particularly for our friends, Young Married Couple. Their first baby is due in mid-June. She has developed a condition where her immune system is killing off her platelets. Normal platelet counts for an adult are in the vicinity of 150,000…her count at the beginning of last week was 3,000. Platelets are the blood cells which clot the blood when there is a cut, bruise, etc. Without them, one could bleed to death from the slightest thing. Her doctor ordered her to quit her job and begin a steroid treatment regimen. The steroids will kill off her white blood cell count – the cells which are currently attacking her platelets – and let her platelet levels rise. It’s a horrible catch 22 with respec to her health: The steroids kill her immune response and could put her at serious risk should she be exposed to the slightest bacteria, virus, etc. However, without her platelets at a sufficient level, she could bleed to death from bruising, cuts, and especially while delivering the baby. They hope to get her platelet level to at least 100,000 by her due date. She will not be able to have a C-section should she need it, as the risk of bleeding is too great, even epidurals and IV’s are a big risk with her condition. So, Young Married Couple’s lives have been drastically changed by the health factors alone. Add to it that her income is now POOF! gone, and they now have medical expenses beyond their normal amounts, and they’re pretty scared right now. Please pray for them.

Still other requests are made known, and I envision (á la Bruce Almighty) our Heavenly Father’s house, with a multitude of prayer requests, often difficult piling up on His desk…and that’s just our smallish congregation’s needs! What an AWESOME GOD we serve!