Monday, May 27, 2013

Conquering Fear

"…keep up your courage…" -Acts 27:25 Today we celebrate Memorial Day to honor all those who gave their lives in service to our wonderful country. They served country over self and we are thankful. They looked danger in the face and said, "I refuse to give in to fear- I choose honor, even if I sacrifice myself to a larger cause." Thanks to all those who have passed and the legacy they have left for each one of us living today. Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” There is another kind of bravery and it's not limited to the battlefield. It's those who face seemingly insurmountable trials with faith and integrity. Lisa Mason is one of the most courageous people I have ever known. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 25 years ago and has been dealing with the symptoms ever since. MS is a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath (myelin) that covers your nerves. Damage to myelin causes interference in the communication between your brain, spinal cord and other areas of your body. This condition may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible. But MS has never defeated Lisa. She has simply refused to let the MS define who she is. Her husband Donny, one of my best friends since high school, has been her faithful partner through all of this. Her oldest son, Mark, is married to my daughter Elizabeth, so I've been able to watch Lisa's example for years. I've learned (or, better said, I'm still learning) three lessons from her willingness to be courageous: 1) Reliance on the Lord. Lisa has never been bitter through this trial season. She recognizes that God is on control and like Job said, "He gives and takes away." Her faith is in Christ and faith is immune from any disease. 2) Contentment. In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he challenged them to "be content in whatever circumstances they were in" (4:11). Lisa does not bow to MS. It is simply an inconvenience that she works around every day. 3) An eye on the future. Lisa is in her greatest challenge as I write this blog. As the disease has continued to conflict her body, she was offered a chance to free her body of the MS through a new clinical trial. This trial is new to the US and there are only a few specialists utilizing the treatment, one of which is Lisa’s doctor in Amarillo, Texas, where she lives. Through this treatment they will remove her damaged stem cells and replace them with "clean" stem cells, thus ridding her body of the bad cells. The procedure is risky but the chance of a positive outcome will leave her well. So, she's in week three of the six-month process and people from all over the world are praying for a positive outcome. As usual, Lisa is not going through the procedure for herself, but desires to have greater mobility for those she loves. She is courageously facing the trial with faith and dignity. That's no surprise to any of us who know her. Her heart could make no other choice. Lisa, we pray for you to stay focused on the Lord and His blessings that follow. Thank you for your example…. As you conquer the fear. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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