Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting Your Bearings

I went out jogging in my neighborhood the other night.  I probably should have run earlier in the day, but I got busy doing other activities.  Nevertheless, I felt compelled to exercise, even though it was close to ten o'clock at night.  As I was jogging, I was amazed at the wonder of the stars.  Even though I don't know too much about the heavenly bodies, I was able to discern the Little Dipper on the left side of my street, whereas the Big Dipper could be seen easily on the right side.  I remember hearing as a child how you can find the North Star just by drawing a straight line from one side of the Big Dipper and following this imaginary line in the sky.  Sure enough, the North Star was not too far behind (or should I say in front).

Seeing the Big Dipper reminded me of a song or poem I heard was composed during the Civil War.  Apparently, the Big Dipper was known as "the drinking gourd' to the slaves.  As runaway slaves travelled north to escape oppression in the south, the drinking gourd and the North Star showed them the way to freedom.  The song, "Follow The Drinking Gourd"  expresses the way to freedom in this manner:

When the sun goes back and the first quail calls
Follow the drinking gourd
The old man is a-waitin' for to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd, follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is a-waitin' to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

The river bed makes a mighty fine road,
Dead trees to show you the way
And it's left foot, peg foot, traveling on
Follow the drinking gourd


The river ends between two hills
Follow the drinking gourd
There's another river on the other side
Follow the drinking gourd


I thought I heard the angels say
Follow the drinking gourd
The stars in the heavens gonna show you the way
Follow the drinking gourd


You can hear this song on You Tube at:

It's a great song with a great message.  Furthermore, it doesn't only apply to slavery.  As we are going through life, when going through trials, perhaps the best way to overcome them is to keep looking north.  Consequently, our ultimate deliverance doesn't come from the North Star but the "bright morning star" (Revelations 22:16).  As the late Jack Horkheimer (also known as "The Star Hustler") used to say on his astronomy show on PBS, "keep looking up".          


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thinking Outside The Box

It is said that politics make strange bedfellows.  In other words, political groups that may be opposed to each other may actually band together in order to get a specific bill passed.  They set aside their differences for a common good.   Hence, alliances formed in desperation may consequently be profitable to both groups.

There is an interesting story in II Kings 5 about a desperate man whose name was Naaman.  He was a great military leader, the captain of the army of the king of Syria.  He was a highly respected warrior.  But, he also suffered from leprosy.  The Bible doesn't list the extent of his leprosy but you know it certainly was a hardship for him.  Also, you can imagine how he searched for anyone or anything that would deliver him from his sickness.  Sadly, nothing helped. 

Then, he reached for a cure from an unusual source, his enemy.  The Bible says that "...the Syrians had gone out in bands, and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman's wife" (II Kings 5:2 NASB).  Perhaps being a little naive of the relationship between Syria and Israel but yet being full of faith, the girl thought her new master would benefit from the healing ministry of the prophet Elisha in Israel.  She subsequently convinced him to seek out Elisha, even though Syria and Israel were not on the best of terms.  Elisha told Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River and his leprosy would be removed.  After some prodding by his servants, this mighty soldier immersed himself in the Jordan and was cured.  Had Naaman stayed in Syria, he would have remained a leper.  Yet, looking outside of his country (or thinking outside of the box, using a more modern term) would ultimately lead to his healing.

When dealing with cancer, sometimes traditional methods of treatment may not be producing the intended result.  Consequently, some cancer patients may seek cures from additional sources such as nationwide cancer centers.  Nothing wrong with visiting such places if financial resources are available.  As a matter of fact, traveling to another land  (as occurred with Naaman) may lead to a wonderful cure.  Furthermore, of all people, bear in mind that Naaman's cure started with the advice of a little girl.  Perhaps God puts the most insignificant people in our lives to point us to a pathway of recovery.

You can learn more about my personal cancer victory and insights I gained from the battle by reading my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer". It can be accessed at:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pressing On

Well, it finally happened recently....I got a cold.  Why is this so unusual?  Well, I rarely get sick.  As a matter of fact, I think I last had a cold several years ago.  That's just the way it is for me.  I just don't get sick very often and rarely miss work.  Come to think of it, I've never had the flu.  Maybe it's related to the fact that I drink orange juice practically every day.  I also take a multi-vitamin.  Of course, I don't smoke either.  In regards to exercise, I usually try to jog or walk on my treadmill several times a week.  Besides my bout with cancer several years ago, I've always been the picture of health.

But, this cold hit me big time.  It started with a cough and congestion.  Later I developed a fever and went on antibiotics.  I subsequently developed nasal stuffiness and hoarseness.  Finally, it attacked my ears, with my right ear being completely stopped up. Even as I write today, I still can't hear fully  out of my right ear.  I have a lingering cough, although it is dissipating.  Nevertheless, this cold has been relentless and has been attacking me for the past two weeks.  I've been amazed at how it simply won't let me go.

Yet, even in the midst of illness, I've still pressed on.  I haven't missed a day of work, even though it meant taking cold capsules, throat lozenges and cough medicine to work. It was tough, it was tiring, yet, I was still able to get my work done.  Not a bad accomplishment, considering how bad I felt.

I may have mentioned this previously, but Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell, keep going".  Not a bad motto for life, especially when going through major illness.  As you keep moving, eventually the symptoms dissipate and life becomes joyful again.  Furthermore, I refuse to let sickness, whether it be a respiratory infection or cancer, hinder me from being what God wants me to be.  What wonderful treasures await me in life as I keep moving forward in spite of adversity.