An Update from Pastor George:
Deborah and I want to express our thanks to everyone in South Calgary Community Church. We have been grateful for the continual prayers of individuals, homes groups, and the Elders. The past two years, while on disability, have been difficult physically, spiritually and emotionally. Through it all, we know, and acknowledge that God has been, and is with us. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
Since I last provided an update, there has been no change in my situation. The head pain continues 24 hours a day and remains at a very high level. Fighting the constant pain also results in fatigue and I will often fall asleep several times during the day. We did recently receive some interesting news. One of the Doctors we saw in October contacted us a few weeks ago to say that he thinks the problem is that my body is not producing enough Cerebral Spinal Fluid. This theory fits all the symptoms I have. Unfortunately, the one test he is aware of is only available in Europe. He is currently contacting colleagues across both Canada and the US to see if anyone has some thoughts on how we can test his theory. We hope to hear from him soon.
Over the past two years I have read through the New Testament (including reading through the Gospels several times) and about half of the Old Testament. I find that I am being repeatedly drawn to the Psalms. I have read through the Psalms twice and a few weeks ago began a third trip through the Psalms.
Ever since I have gone on long term disability, the words written in the Psalms have become more alive than at any other time in my life. There is something reassuring about reading how David continually received comfort and strength from God during his physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles.
As I began my third trip through the Psalms, there are two verses that stood out.
“But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.”
“Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, LORD.” (Psalm 9:10)
These verses describe the spiritual perspective God has given me as I have dealt with head pain every day. I want to make it clear that Deborah and I are not spiritually perfect. Far from it. We have had many emotionally and spiritually difficult days and weeks; and I know that like David, we will have more difficult times. But through the past two years the words of these verses have been a repeating message from God.
Read Psalm 9:10 again. The words “have not abandoned” is a key phrase describing David’s confidence in God. David knew that despite everything happening around him, that God had not, and would not abandon him. It is also a promise to us. Whatever storm is assaulting us, God will not leave us behind, He will not abandon us. For a New Testament example, look at the time when Jesus came to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and calmed the storm (Matthew 14:22-33).
Psalm 3:3 has also become an important verse for me. When I read it this time, I was intrigued by the word “shield.” For decades I have believed that Jesus is our shield; after all, the Bible says He is. This time I took a minute to think about what a shield is and what it does. First, a shield protects us – that seems obvious. Second, and this is crucial, a shield is between us and our enemy. From this verse, we know that God has such a great love for us that He has intentionally placed Himself between us and our enemy, protecting us.
Here is the point that God’s Spirit revealed to me. In a typical battle, the soldier holds the shield. The soldier places his shield between himself and the enemy. He controls it. David understood that he did not hold this shield, he did not control it. God actively places Himself between us and our enemy.
Additionally, if we were to hold a shield to protect ourselves, we would have protection from whatever is in front of us, but, because we can only look in one direction at a time, while protecting ourselves from one enemy, we may be opening ourselves to an enemy creeping up behind us. David understood that God is a shield all around us. He is protecting us from attacks from any direction.
Now, we must be clear, this does not mean that we will not experience difficulties, problems, or storms. As you read through Psalms you see over and over that David experienced problem after problem. And God was with him through all of it!
As Deborah and I continue through this struggle, we know that God has not abandoned us and that He is a shield completely surrounding us.
We are very grateful for your ongoing prayers and support.
Pastor George and Deborah Ridley