March 2014

In February I attended a day seminar in Brixham on Death and Dying. It was a day with Christian foundation and so the subject was approached in the context that death is not the end of our relationship with God – but it is still very much part of the journey. We shared with warmth, laughter and honesty and learnt a lot from a speaker from the Hospice and a local doctor. Those of us who were there chose to go because we are interested in thinking about the end of this part of our life and what decisions we can make.

Not everyone wants to think about this – which is completely fine, but if you do there are some plans that you can put in place – something that is generally known as a living will. What I have learned about those can be summed up in three points:

1: be as specific as possible and draw it up with the help of your doctor

2: make sure that other people can have access to it (e.g. have one in your handbag, give one to your next of kin)

3: Even if you have one, things may not go the way you have planned.
(If you would like to know more I am very willing to talk about it.)

I want to reflect on number 3 a little more. What I have discovered is that sometimes doctors have to make decisions that they weigh up to be right, even if they are not what we would have wished to happen. It is a gentle reminder that life is not all in our control. It reminded me of the birth plan I put in place when having my first child. Mothers in the last 20 years or so have been encourage to write down the kind of birth they would like to experience – whether they want a lot of pain relief or very little for example. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote down but it probably mentioned trying for as natural a delivery as possible with candles and music and massage. I won’t go into details but the doctors had to decide that in the best interest of me and my baby it would all have to happen very differently. It was scary and I remember praying hard that everything would be alright – putting my faith, hope and trust in God. And we were both fine
I’m not sure I bothered with a birth plan for the other two children...

It is good to have hopes and dreams – to have plans and aims and objectives in place. That is something that we will be working on this year as a Church. But I am also aware that we also need to adapt to the curve balls, the challenges that can come our way unexpectedly. How do we do that? By putting our faith and hope and trust in God and allowing Him to be in control.
As it says in Romans 8:28 “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.” Or, as the Message puts it “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

When we are feeling that life is not in control and our plans are all awry, remember that verse, pray that you may sense God in control. And if you can’t think of the words to pray, how about these?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Actually the original prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr doesn’t end there – and the rest you may find helpful too
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

God bless you,