Guest blogger: Sven Ljungholm. Meet Sven Ljungholm in a series of articles. Sven worked was leading an air company many years before he became a Salvation Army officer. He served in USA, Sweden and as one of the pioneers when the Salvation Army restarted its work in Eastern Europe.
Since my stroke, now a year ago, I have reread some of my favourite sermons, all by others I hasten to add. One shared, ' I recognize the stark truth that our lives are divided into yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows'. Prior to the stroke it was often the unfulfilled promises of my yesterdays and worries over the daunting realization that tomorrows were ever fewer, and consequently, was robbing me of living my potential to the fullest. So what’s left? Today!
Another sermon reminded me that it's a matter of how to make each day a creative beginning; explore God’s promise that we can receive a new mind and strength every morning. These were necessary reminders.
Just a few days subsequent to my stroke a visitor to my hospital bed prayed these words, ‘Sven I pray for your physical recovery and may the year ahead be the best of your life!” A year(?), when what I really felt was best for me was often; “take me home”. The best (?) , when hospital staff were overheard whispering, “he was lucky to make it, but he’ll never walk again”! Well, with God's help, and the assistance of a group from Exeter Temple Corps, and family back home I was determined to prove them wrong, and let the actions and activities that followed be a witness to His daily promises and provisions.
Since then, in the four months of my forced immobility, I have shared in driving almost 3,000 miles, flown across the Atlantic twice with another two crossings in a few weeks, and boarded/flown 11 flight sectors ranging in distance from a few hundred miles to several thousand. And last week completed teaching 14 various nine week classes in international marketing and concurrently. Business ethics classes. And in 4 weeks I plan to drive across much of Europe. Yes, I still have a wheelchair but it's been in the boot of the car since my arrival here 3 weeks ago, and used only twice!
I share the above not as some example of uniqe strength, but rather resolve found deep within and buoyed by the strength of the Lord. In fact it pales when I compare my stats with others of and beyond my age. Did you know that of the 38,000 competitors that completed the grueling 26 mile NY Marathon last year, hundreds of men and women were aged from 65 to 80?! Granted, not all were stroke sufferers but there were no doubt many who ran simply to prove that they had overcome the odds.
My father wrote a songster piece some years ago and the words of the chorus are;
PRESSING ON, WE’RE PRESSING ON,
IN THE MIGHT OF THE LORD PRESSING ON,
LEAVING OLD THINGS BEHIND AND NEW VICTORIES TO FIND,
PRESSING ON, WE’RE PRESSING ON.
Major Sven Ljungholm (Musical Salvationist)
The Apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians, chapter 3:13-14; "Brethren,I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Paul knew that glorying in success and thinking 'well, when I was young...it was this way for me, or when I was back in the earlier days, I did this and this and this.' Paul could have done that for he was quite a success; a noted scholar with a degree from the University of Tarsus, a famous orator, member of the Sanhedrin, and colleague of the famous Gamaliel, and a member of the freedmen's Temple; a freed slave! Nor did he get hung up on defeats and past hurts... we can assume from his station in life and as a Rabbi he would have been married and have had at least one child. One ought not argue from silence, but we can assume that both had been lost through some sad circumstance. Yet he kept pressing on each day toward living it with the desire to become more like Christ seeking new victories to find.