Years ago a Canadian singer, Anne Murray, sang these words in one of her numbers: “Sure could use a little good news today.” Well, I want to give out some good news today: attitude-wise, I am doing much better than I have in many months, perhaps years. I am reluctant to call this a strictly psychological change or a strictly spiritual change. I don’t think the two can be neatly separated, because mind-body-soul-spirit-emotions are all intertwined and overlapping. We are instructed in the scriptures to “love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength,” meaning with all of our being, everything in us and everything we have. We are unified selves.
It is evident, however, that one (or more) of these aspects (functions) of our single self may predominate in certain situations more than in others. A person trying to push a car out of a ditch uses brute strength, spurred on by a strong will, to get the job done. But, even then, the total self is engaged. It cannot be otherwise.
In my situation, as some of you know, I have struggled in an unusual way. Because my health has been poor since my heart transplant of 2003 (and for years before that) I have had a strong desire to leave this earthly life and be taken into God’s heavenly presence. Since March, 2007, after two doctors said I likely had no more than six months to live, this longing has intensified. It became so strong near the end of 2008 that I suffered a lot from depression and anxiety. I believe the cause, or a big part of the cause, was that, although my health continued to decline, God was not taking me home. My longing for heaven—normally a healthy thing for the children of God—had become unhealthy. I did not want to go on living. I asked God numerous times to end my life.
After a crisis experience on January 1, 2009, I called for the elders of the church to come and pray for me, according to James 5. Then I went to a doctor who provided me with some helpful medications. During 2009 I improved gradually in my overall attitude toward life and death, but it has not been until the last month or so that I’ve come to realize that a major change has come over me. I can’t say just when this happened or point to anything different in my prayer life or daily routine. I just know that God has done a very good work in me, for which I am thankful.
Before this major turn in my life I had no desire to live, whereas since the God-wrought change, I am now willing to live to be 90, if God so wills. I hope I don’t, and I still long to go home sooner rather than later, but this new acceptance of life has improved my attitude and sense of daily well-being. Before this change, I wasn’t conscious of having a bad attitude toward God. After all, I wanted to go be with him forever. But I had a negative attitude toward the earthly life God had assigned for me. Part of this was, no doubt, due to depression, and part was due to feelings of uselessness. I was wondering whether I was doing any good here on earth. I had to admit that if God still had me here, and if my attitude is one of joyful (yes!) acceptance of God’s will, then I am being useful for his eternal purposes. It was not enough to resign myself to living, but I needed to gladly, positively accept my state in life (James 1:2-4).
My physical health continues to decline noticeably, but my daily consciousness of God’s good pleasure and will have increased noticeably. I desire to spend the rest of my days simply living for God’s glory. I serve him as best I know how each day, but I can’t delve much into how I may be actually useful to others. More and more I seek to live moment-by-moment according to the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”
May God encourage and lead you continually according to your own life-experience in this earthly existence. I trust that my testimony will be helpful to many of you, my readers.