Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vacuum cleaners and Band Aids

One of the most fascinating things to hit the medical scene, in my opinion, is the technology of a wound vac. The technical term is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and the basic science of it is to create a seal on a wound, caused by bedsores, burns, grafts or dehisced wounds (where the skin breaks along the surgical incision). When a wound vac is used the negative pressure draws the edges of the wound together and promotes the granulation tissue - the new skin tissue - to form and bring blood flow and life to the wounded area.

While the settings produce the amount of negative pressure used to close the wound it also has the ability to take out any dead or infected remains, just like a household vacuum freshens up the carpet, it also takes away the dirt, crumbs and dust bunnies floating around.

The wound vacs are amazing little machines and the healing area is kept protected by additional debris and moisture by inserting a foam dressing inside the wound and sealing it with an adhesive dressing.

Enough science.

When I think about wound healing though, the kind that you can't see, the kind that is in our souls, I wonder about the wound vac God uses to close up our wounds. Isaiah said that Jesus would be the one to bind up our wounds. In the first century physical wounds were bound by cloth and sometimes oil and wine would be poured on the wounds first as a form of medication leading up to today, 2012, where all kinds of bandages, dressings and medications are used to protect and promote healing of wounds.

But the Bible tells me that Jesus came to bind up our wounds. (Isaiah 61). He was the first wound vac!

An interesting concept I found as I dug into this word Bind: The Hebrew word for bind is Habas, to bind, wrap around, cover, envelop, enclose. (Are you seeing the wound vac picture I described earlier? I am!!) Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." The thought is that broken heart is a heart smashed into pieces. Anyone ever feel like their heart was smashed into a million pieces? The pain of the wound so deep that it felt it would never heal? Those wounds, "Assebet" in Hebrew, are grievous wounds, wounds that cause deep sorrow.

So, if Jesus came to bind up our wounds, to be our Wound Vac, our Negative Pressure Wound Therapist, what miraculous healing is he doing in our spiritual cells! When he binds up our wounds He is pulling out the exudate, the yucky stuff, and pulling together the new, the healthy, the blood producing, life giving cells. He is taking out the pain of the wound, the debris that is left behind, and binding it with Himself and sealing it with His Holy Spirit.

One last thought. I looked up the word bind in a thesauraus. I found these synonyms give it an interesting picture. As you read them, imagine Jesus being that word, being the one that is binding up the broken pieces of your heart, binding them, taking out the debris that's left behind and sealing it with himself.

To constrain with bonds


Tie up


Shackle


Fetter


Cinch


Clamp


Chain


Leash


Constrict


Restrict


Hamper


Handcuff


Tether


Clamp down


Hogtie


To secure


To bandage


Unite


Heal

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Being on the side of the Hole Filler

You really can't avoid it. If you have a TV or use a computer or any type of social network it's staring all of us in the face. We can't pretend it's not there and it certainly is not going to go away. The President, motives unknown, decided to bring his opinion to the forefront so now the real debate begins.

Gay marriage. Homosexual marriage. Non-heterosexual marriage. Marriage between two women or two men.

I'm reading and hearing all sorts of debate, arguments, on both sides of the issue. The OPponents to gay marriage say, "Marriage is between one man and one woman." The PROponents of gay marriage say, "It doesn't matter, if two people love each other they should be able to be married just like a man and a woman."

Ok. That settles it then.

The PROponents accuse the OPponents of being religious, backward, old-fashioned. They say it's a civil rights issue. The OPponents say it's a moral issue. (When did those two start being different?)

I don't know what it's like to be gay. I don't know what it's like to be bullied because I'm gay. I don't know what it's like to feel different among all my heterosexual friends when it comes to which gender I'm attracted to.

But God does. He knows the struggle. He knows what you, the gay person has lived with, struggled, dare I say, even, been tortured with. Jesus knows.

Now, you ask, then why does he not stop me from feeling this way? I don't know.

There are a lot of things in my chemical makeup and physiology that I wish he would change about me. I know he could. I know with a snap of the his Mighty fingers he could. But he doesn't. And I don't know why.

All I do know is enough though. He loves me. He died for me. He has opened the doors of freedom from the struggles I have. I just have to walk through the open door. It sounds so easy, but it's hard! There is a struggle, a force if you will, going on that does not want us free!

But Jesus has freed us. He has freed us to live free! The hole that is in every heart, gay or straight, can only be filled by Him. There is no other way to get that hole filled. We can try, gay or straight, to fill it with relationships that are bad for us. Straight couples are a mess too!

If we try and fill our hearts with anything but God's redeeming love for us then we're going to struggle. Gay or straight, we're going to struggle. If a straight guy is jumping from one woman's bed to the next, he's got a big hole in his heart. If a straight girl is giving herself to a different guy every night, she's got a big hole in her heart.

There is no difference in gay or straight when we all have a hole in our heart that only God can fill.

God did not make marriage to be between a man and a woman just to be mean to the gay folks!! He did it because there is blessing for the marriage between one man and one woman. (Let me finish my point before you say, "but I feel blessed in my gay committed relationship!")

Straight married couples marry and divorce at an alarming rate. They leave their kids in the dust. Their hearts don't get filled in the new marriage with the new partner. Their kids' hearts don't get filled nor do they get shown how to fill their holes with God when mom and dad are changing partners.

Before you go stomping down Pennsylvania avenue in Washington, D.C. or protest at your state capitol, ask yourself this, Gay and Straight: Is my heart filled with God's love? Do I depend on Him and Him alone to fulfill me, to love me when all others fail me? Am I depending on someone other than God to fulfill me?

When you have those answers clear in your mind and heart, then, by all means, make your move. But don't jump on this crazy bandwagon that forces you to choose sides until you can answer that question truthfully.

Make sure God has filled the hole in your heart first. Then everything else will become clear.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

For Movement's Sake

The odor is pungent, overwhelming my senses as I walk in the door. The smell of rotting flesh fills the air and as I get closer to the wound and see the black, necrotic tissue with gangrenous ooze surrounding the once healthy skin I see inside the wound to the bone. What once was protected by blood vessels, muscles, and soft supple skin is now a cavern inside the body.

It didn't happen overnight, but deterioration occurred quickly. The skin, which was once normal in color and appearance first became red, then, when the pressure that was upon the site continued to impede itself, the pressure between the skin and the bone began to break down because blood flow to the capillaries was impeded. When the pressure was relieved, from moving, blood flow increased and no permanent damage occurred.

However, when there is no change in movement, platelets clot around the skin cells which surround the capillaries and little blood clots develop. The blood clots further impede blood from flowing normally and the tissue around the surrounding area of the pressure begins to die. When the tissue dies, the ulcer turns into a literal open wound that often becomes deep enough to see the bone.

The senses can't comprehend the suffering a wound such as this causes. And the greater unfathomable fact is that just the simple act of moving would have prevented the damage.

Those who cannot move themselves, the paralyzed and the bedridden, can suffer these wounds when they aren't physically moved by someone else. They used to be given a generic term of "bedsores" to describe the breakdown, but it is far beyond soreness that these folks endure. It takes diligence on the part of the caretakers to see to it that their skin is protected and breakdown prevented. It's hard work. It's round the clock work. It's prevention work. It's preservation work.

When we don't move physically our body suffers. But what happens when we don't move spiritually? What breakdown occurs to our souls? What about our minds? When we get stuck in the same ol' same ol', is the possiblity of spiritual, emotional, and even possibly mental breakdown real?

Maybe they're called habits. Maybe they're called ruts. Maybe they get described as "it's just the way we've always done it." Maybe it's the same drive to work everyday. Maybe it's the same thing to eat for breakfast for 20 years. Maybe it's the same reactions to ideas that are different then mine or I don't agree with. Maybe it's the same routine getting ready for work or school. Maybe it's the same pew in church. Maybe it's the same clothes colors, the same patterns, the same haircut.

What if our souls have decubitus ulcers - the medical term for bedsores? What if we just need to change our viewpoint for a short time. What if a new route to work would give you a new neighborhood to explore on your day off? What if sitting in a different spot in church or in the school lunchroom or at your favorite table at your favorite restaurant gave you a new view?

Physical breakdown begins after only a few hours of staying in the same spot. How much damage has been done to our souls by not moving?

It's a tough thought to think. I like my routines. I like a pattern to my day. I have several varieties. I have a routine for my work days, my days off, my Saturday days off.

I like my routines.

But my routines may be impeding a new view that God wants me to see, to be blessed by, to keep the blood flowing.