“I asked the Lord that I might Grow” – John Newton

As many of you know, I have been suffering with a kidney stone for over three weeks now.  However, last Friday was my last day of significant pain, so I feel that I am over the worst of it.  Thanks to all of you have been in prayer for me during this time.  I first began my travail with this tiny stone the day before Easter.  I was fasting on that Saturday and I had asked the Lord to help me to identify with Him in his sufferings.  The Lord answered my prayer, but not in the way that I imagined.  I remember, at one point last week, weeping in the middle of the night.  I asked the Lord, “Is this really what it takes to humble me?  Am I so calloused that I need such pain to buffet me?”  I sat in the dark whispering. Defeated.  “You know best, Lord.  You know exactly what I need.  I am yours.  You know best.”

Yesterday, I was eating lunch with a friend – Iain Boyd – an episcopal priest who serves at Trinity Episcopal in downtown Myrtle Beach.  He’s a really great guy whom God had been prodding me to get together with.  As we sat in Cracker Barrel, Iain began to share with me a hymn written by John Newton called “I asked the Lord that I might grow.”  I had never heard it before.  Iain recited it to me by heart – and as he spoke the words across the table, God’s Spirit impressed me with the magnitude of this hymn.  It was my experience.  I had asked the Lord for something – thinking that I knew best how to receive it.   I asked the Lord to help me grow.  I wanted a deeper intimacy.  My plan was a day of fasting in exchange for a closer identification with Christ.  But that was not Christ’s plan.  He chose another, significantly more painful way.  Yet, I am learning to  thank God for his way over mine.  He knows exactly what I need.  Only he truly knows how to pour contempt on all my pride.  Only he knows how to arrest my wandering heart and press his ancient love into my soul.

Much thanks to my friend Iain who pastored me yesterday.  Also, thanks also to John Newton for writing such a powerful and true hymn.  I would like to share that hymn with you now.  Again, John Newton wrote “I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow” and published it in the Olney Hymnbook in 1879.  It is sung below by Indelible Grace.  Please take the time to listen to it prayerfully.  It is wonderfully dark, beautifully rich, and absolutely true to the Gospel.  It is a spiritual steak set to music.  I encourage you to contemplate its deep meaning so that it feeds your soul the way that it has fed mine this morning.

Lyrics – “I asked the Lord”

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow, In faith and love and every grace. Might more of His salvation know, and seek more earnestly His face
2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray, And He I trust has answered prayer. But it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair
3. I hoped that in some favored hour, at once He’d answer my request, And by His love’s constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest
4. Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part
5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe crossed all the fair designs I schemed, cast out my feelings, laid me low
6. “Lord why is this?”, I trembling cried “Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?” “Tis in this way” The Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith”
7. “These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me, That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

Making Sense Out of Suffering – God’s Megaphone (Part 2)


(I wrote this post early Sunday morning.  I finished it at 5am, while sitting in the dark, still suffering with a Kidney Stone.  I am presently at 18 days.)

The reality of suffering measured against God’s goodness is one of the foundational problems that unbeliever’s use to disprove the existence of God.  The line of thinking usually follows this pattern:  There is, without question, a great amount of suffering in the world.  If God is all-powerful and he is all loving, then why does he allow such suffering and death to take place?  In order to reconcile this problem, it is argued, a logical person must take one of only four positions: (1) that God is not all-powerful and therefore cannot stop our suffering, (2) that God is not all-loving and therefore does not care about our suffering, or (3) that God is neither all-powerful nor all-loving and therefore cannot stop our suffering nor does he care to, or (4) that there is no God at all.  The most likely of these four, says the atheist, is choice number four.

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Morning Prayer – Identifying with the suffering of others

Many of you are aware of my recent bout with kidney stones.  The stones emerged last week, the day before Easter, when I prayed that Christ would allow me to identify with Him in the suffering of his passion.  Eleven days later, on Monday night, I again went to bed in pain.  The week has been a blur; every day with intermittent fever and the enduring the grip of sometimes nagging, sometimes crippling pain.  Every night, shuffling off to bed, half asleep – half awake, while little knives stabbed into my lower back.  Every morning waking up at 4 am, an invisible zombie eating into my kidney.  Monday night was no exception.  Before going to bed, I thought to myself, “What would it be like to live with this pain the rest of my life – to know that every day would be a battle against physical misery?  There must be so many in the world who do.”

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Kidney Stone(s) Update – Tim Melton

A ball and a book. Somehow, it works.

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Many of you have been asking about where I am in regard to my kidney stone.  Well, today I found out that I do not have a kidney stone…I have three.  One of the stones is in my kidney and two are in my bladder.  I have been in incredible pain – almost every night I wake up and writhe around trying to get relief.  Martha Jo has been great.  Besides my pain medication, one way that I have found to get relief is by lying down on the ground, face down, taking a medium sized rubber ball and placing it on my back, and then getting Martha Jo to take a book, place it on top of the ball, and press down into my kidneys as hard as she can.  For some reason, though it is painful to do this, the “acute” pain of the kidney stone is somehow disseminated into a wider area.  Martha Jo will roll the ball around, pressing down on the book, for about 40 minutes until the pain becomes manageable. Continue reading

Our Suffering compared to a Tickle

In my latest post titled “Favorite Lewis Quote #4 – God’s Megaphone”, I used a fictional dialogue between a Dad and his son, along with the metaphor of “tickling“, as a way of understanding or categorizing suffering in the life of a believer.  I would like to use this post to provide a few “keys” to understanding that dialogue.

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Favorite Lewis Quote #4 – God’s Megaphone (Part 1)

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  – The Problem of Pain

“Papa does God hear me when I pray?”  The little boy jumped into his bed, dirty socks drooping off of each foot.  His Dad, a construction worker, tired from a hard day’s work, went into the bathroom and poured the boy a glass of water.

“Yeah, he hears you.”
“But how do you know he hears me?”
“Cause I just know.”
“Yeah, but can he see me too?”
“Yeah, he can see you.”
“But how do you know?  Can you see God?”
“No, I can’t see him? Don’t be silly.”
“Then, how do you know he can see us?”
“Well,” said the Dad, just cause we can’t see him, that don’t mean he can’t see us.”
“But how do you know?”
“Cause I just know that’s all”.  The boy’s big Dad grabbed hold of his droopy socks and playfully pulled them off his feet.

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Sanctifying Kidney Stones

Last Wednesday night at Surfside PCA, our church enjoyed a very powerful communion service.  Many of our people, including me, were impacted by the careful contemplation of Christ’s work on the Cross.  The next morning one of our elders, shared his feelings with me in an e-mail.  He said, “Last night was a very special night.  I found myself waking up a lot last night, dwelling on the crucifixion.” Wow. What a powerful statement.

As Easter approached, I began thinking about what my elder had shared with me.  I found myself longing to know Christ in a deeper way.  I began to pray that Christ would help me to identify with him in his sufferings.  I prayed several heartfelt prayers on Thursday and Friday, asking Jesus to help me to appreciate how much he sacrificed in order to provide me with the gift of himself.  As I went to bed Friday night I decided that I would begin fasting on Saturday as one more way to reflect on Christ’s passion.  I also felt that this fast would prepare my heart to preach the 8am service on Easter morning at Surfside Pres.  On Saturday morning I began to work my plan.  I woke up early to pray and think on the scriptures.  That morning, I worked in the yard, then returned to the scriptures to read “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”  At noon, I worked in the garage, then sat down to read in Matthew, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Around 2pm, I went over to the church to shoot hoops by myself – praying and thinking.  I jogged around the church building several times.  Breathing hard and sweating, I sat down and considered Paul’s words from Philippians 3 – my central text for Easter morning’s sermon, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings“. Continue reading