Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Notes of Devotion

The following testimony/devotional is shared by Margaret Garrett Irwin, an Oakhurst, California writer. Maggie’s book, The Journal of Anne Reading: From Florence Nightingale to Dorothea Dix and Beyond, was published in 2006 by Trafford Publishing.

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes

Psalm 121:1-2 – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121 has been very meaningful to me since I was a child in England, but never more so than when I had to spend time in Stanford University Hospital, California, with a mysterious illness, later diagnosed as Vasculitis/Bechet’s Syndrome, a very rare form of arthritis which affects one person in three hundred thousand people in the United States. I was paralyzed and had painful ulcers over all my extremities, especially my legs. I was temporarily blind in my right eye. For many months I could not write or drive without using hand splints.

Today, with God’s help, I am able to do everything I did before. My illness is in remission.

Two days after Christmas, 1990, I had a streaming cold. The following day, a blister came on my ankle and I had a sensation of my foot going to sleep. By that night, I could barely walk and was in terrible pain. My immune system had broken down but I didn’t know this until I was hospitalized at Stanford two weeks later. Several months later, I was told that stress and genetics were the probable causes. We blame stress on many things but a lot of it, I brought on myself.

I have been a Christian all my life and I truly gave my life to the Lord when I was twenty-two. However, I came to California two years later and I married a man who I soon found out was an alcoholic and also had a cruel streak. I had done just what the Bible tells us not to do—I had become unequally yoked with an unbeliever. I kept trying for many years because I had been brought up to believe that divorce was a sin.

My self image had never been high but in this situation it became extremely low. When I finally did break away and divorce, I was left with two teenagers who have both suffered from the situation. A wonderful Christian woman named Betty Swinehart, who visited patients in Stanford, likened my problems to those of Job. I really could not agree because I had abused myself with heavy drinking and I had disobeyed many of God’s commandments.

Now I will always have outward scars to remind me and keep me humble.

After my initial release from the hospital, I lived in nearby Redwood City with my dear friend, Betty Librizzo. She was 82 but lovingly cared for me and drove me seven days a week to hydrotherapy sessions. Lying on a board in swirling water was wonderful but the treatments to my skin afterwards were an endurance course.

People were constantly surprised by my “good attitude” and lack of depression. I recalled how Psalm 121 first became meaningful to me. When I was twelve years old, I had to miss most of one school term because I had an operation on my left eye to repair damage caused by a fall when I was only two. I was in low spirits over my poor results from the term’s work. The next term one of the assignments in the religious knowledge class was to write out from memory the whole of Psalm 121. I did and got good results in all subjects. I really felt my help had come from the Lord.
As I took my daily required walks in hilly Redwood City, I lifted my eyes to the hills and “turned my eyes on Jesus and looked full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth did grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” This quotation from The Heavenly Vision by H.H. Lemmel sums up the joy I felt on realizing I was and am alive and well in the spirit and now in the body as well—praise the Lord!

In 1994, I met and married the love of my life, Johnston Irwin. I was born in London, England and Johnston was born about 35 miles from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We met in Fresno, California, U.S.A.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I enjoyed reading this, not that I enjoy reading about peoples' hardships but I enjoy reading about what God has done in the lives of His people. Many blessings to you today.