Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy, ” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her.
That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness.
Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.
In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year.
Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another.
At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections.
About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about?
It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.”
Prayer for Our Congressional Leaders
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)
PRAYING IN THE CLOSET
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6 NIV)
It’s funny what you remember from childhood. This verse has stuck with me (as have many others), but I remember it from the King James version of the Bible (as I remember many others) because that is how I learned it. It that version, it says, “…go into your closet.” That phrase always bothered me tremendously. I didn’t want to pray in my closet. There was no light in there, it was always crammed full of stuff, especially on the floor, as I lived in the days prior to closet organizers and I’m not sure I would have known how to use them if they had been presented to me.
Anyway, I could not for the life of me see why Jesus wanted me to spend time with him in my CLOSET! I actually did try it a couple of times and it freaked me out, quite honestly. All I could think about was the fact that I really didn’t spend much time cleaning in there and I wasn’t sure what that might mean as I sat on the floor trying to talk to Jesus about important things. The things that kept popping into my mind were spiders and silverfish!
And the “in secret” part bothered me a little, as well. I quite understood that Jesus was against the false piety of those who only prayed to show off themselves, so to speak. I had, even as a very young person, seen that in my own church—those pompous men (women weren’t allowed to pray out loud in the church when I was a child; they had to ‘keep quiet.’) would drone on and on in that sterterous tone that they felt appropriate to praying in the church.
I am sure you know what I mean. It’s that tone of voice that doesn’t sound one bit like they do in REAL LIFE. I could never understand why they would talk like that if they were REALLY talking to the Jesus that I knew—the Jesus who was supposed to be our friend and Savior. It sounded to me like they were talking to a crowd at a political rally—folks they were trying to convince of something that might not be true.
I understood that we weren’t suppose to pray like that. But what did it mean to be secret about it? Why did we have to hide?
This morning during my devotional with my husband, this scripture came to my mind and I had an entirely new feeling and interpretaion about it because of another conversation that came up while we were reading.
I think these phrases: going into our room or closet, praying in secret do not mean what I took them to mean—the literal meaning that I gave to them as the younger person I was then. Perhaps as you might be interrpreting them now, whatever age you have attained.
Jesus doesn’t want us to posture when we pray, certainly. He wants to hear our heart. And corporate prayer, praying in front of others is fine as long as we remember to whom we are praying and why. But I think he used these phrases for a very specific reason. I think he wanted us to go to a very quiet place, an alone place, a ‘secret’ place, if you will, not that the world won’t know what we are doing—but that we won’t know what the world is doing—nor will we care.
“…and our Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward [us].”
Until we are alone with God, shutting out the noise and distractions of the world, we can’t hear him. But if we take the time to find a place where this intimacy can occur, he will meet us there, in that secret, sacred place and our reward will be sweet communion.
Trust me. I found the ‘closet.’
“Do I seek signs of the Kingdom or do I perceive God’s rule? The newbirth gives a new power of vision whereby I begin to discern God’s rule. His rule was there all the time, but true to His nature; now that I have received His nature I can see His rule.”
The “new power of vision whereby I begin to discern God’s rule” is the best way I know to describe what it has been like to realize how blind I have been to some of the sin in my life in the past—like still thinking intermarriage was a bad idea somehow. How could I believe this while believing that all people were children of God—loved equally by him and as believers in Christ, given equal standing in the Kingdom and especially with Jesus? Or holding on to hurt rather than giving the grace and forgiveness that had been showered on me by a loving Savior.
"His rule was there all the time…now that I have received his nature, I can see his rule." I also understand Chambers saying that John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin, "just that we "need not." God still gives us that wondrous and horrid option of choice—each and everyday—to "perceive God’s rule"—to accept and act on his nature in us, or, not to—by choice. To see as Jesus sees, or to turn away and act on our own—to commit whatever sin it may be that is not in the nature of God.
For me, now, the things, the sins I must guard against are two-fold: my need to take back control of self and to expect a level of perfection in others that I know I cannot reach in myself—that lack of grace and forgiveness for their inadequacy or their harm to me, my family or others.
These things are my sins revealed, among others, by my Abba, in love and forgiven after his chastisement and my repentance.
But old habits resurface unbidden and daily prayers are necessary to keep watch on my human tendency to let my eyes wander from where they should be. I need not sin and it is in my constant awareness now not to sin, as those particular things have been revealed to me. But I am sure that there are others not yet revealed and I pray for such revelation—”to discern God’s rule” in whatever way he chooses to reveal it to me.
I know that when I fail, it is a grief to my Lord. But it is now for only a short moment that this is so; for my repentance is immediate, as is the joy that follows. Abba’s child is learning and this is a source of boundless joy as well!
Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding me more and more into the nature and discernment of Christ.
Trust in the Lord
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Amen and amen!