The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was my first working experience after graduating as a Registered Nurse. I was one of two nurses chosen in the hospital’s new graduate program to work in a highly specialized unit. There were stringent requirements: I was assigned an experienced Nurse Preceptor whose credentials and working experience was reviewed and approved by the New York State Education Department’s Office of the Professions. The hospital, the Nurse Manager of NICU, and the Nurse Preceptor, entered into a contractual agreement with the State of New York. I was also required to commit to a contract with the hospital to train under a preceptor for six months.
Kelly, a young, energetic nurse agreed to be my preceptor. She was a phenomenal person with a big heart filled with love for everyone. We had a get-to-know-you lunch, and I learned that Kelly was the only nurse in the unit that was unmarried and without children. That is until she adopted two babies from NICU that were born to mothers with drug addictions. At the beginning of their earthly journey, the babies suffered the consequences of illicit drugs, severe withdrawal symptoms, and congenital disabilities. By the time, I met Kelly, her children were ages 7 and 8 who experienced normal growth but developed with severe cognitive and physical challenges. Even so, Kelly, a God-fearing woman, was truly a testimony of what it is to sacrifice for others and view life through spiritual eyes. She provided a new and better life for two babies that would have been institutionalized due to no fault of their own.
During the pandemic, I have listened to several sermons on using this time as the perfect opportunity to have a deeper relationship with God. The most recent sermon suggested that we change our perspective and view the quarantine as a time of spiritual incubation. God is preparing us for a new and better life by giving us the time to change. The conditions of lockdown and social distancing are optimal for us to increase our worship with God by listening to inspirational music, praying and studying the Bible, at least 1-2 hours per day.
Like the babies in the Neonatal ICU who are placed in incubators that provide the best possible environment to support healing, growth, and development, God, our Heavenly Father also gives us the resources to enjoy a thriving relationship with Him. God’s love, grace, mercies, and blessings provide the best possible environment for us to achieve spiritual healing, growth and development. He even promises us protection from the evil forces in this world.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:1, 4
As infants who are entirely dependent on their caregivers, so should we be wholly reliant on God. Still, we are required to do our part through obedience, faith, and complete trust in God. Diligent study of the Bible and communicating with God through heartfelt prayers allows us to experience daily spiritual renewal. One aspect of the Plan of Salvation that many do not understand is that we must possess the Character of Christ to have Eternal life. Comparing our characters to Galatians 5:22-23 provides us with the insight on acceptable and unacceptable traits and behaviors. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
Make the plan to prepare for the new and better life that Jesus is coming back to give to us. If you have not used the previous 10 months wisely, then begin today. Develop a schedule to spend quality time with God every day for the remaining two months in 2020. Focus on building a strong relationship with God by discarding ungodly character traits. Ask God to reveal the behaviors and habits that prevent you from living righteously. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
The new and better life will exclude sin, sickness, death, and evil. “Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he has done.” Revelation 22:12. Our reward is eternal life in the perfect New Heaven and New Earth.
Even though Jesus was a perfect role-model, He also faced opposition with His disciples. Peter always had a hidden agenda; in fact his plans were usually contrary to Jesus’ plans. Throughout His ministry, Jesus reminded the disciples of His divine purpose. Even so, Peter had the desire for Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom. When Jesus told the disciples of His approaching death, guess which disciple refused to accept the truth?
As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. Mark 8:32. I must admit when I first read this verse, I said, “What?” How could Peter be so bold as to approach the Son of God and rebuke (KJV) Jesus? When Peter heard Jesus’ plans, it caused conflict with his secret desires for Jesus to become King and for himself to have a lofty position. Peter’s objective was to stop being a disciple living in poverty, whose only purpose was to spread the gospel and serve others. Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Mark 8:33 NLT
The truth is that many who say, “Jesus is Lord” also have hidden agendas. We may never be as bold as Peter was and speak words of rebuke against God’s plans, but isn’t that what we are doing when we pursue our desires? Please know that we are living in the last days of earth’s history. Now is not the time to be sad, disappointed, or discouraged. According to the signs of these times, God has changed our plans. We are living in the last days. No, we may never purchase the new car, or house, change jobs or complete our college education. We may have unfulfilled goals, or even have sustained significant loss during the pandemic. But remember, when we place our lives in God’s hands, we always come through victoriously. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34
Learn to rebuke Satan and get rid of all sorrowful thoughts. Our part in the Plan of Salvation is to faithfully serve God. Faith facilitates spiritual transformation, and unleashes His power. When we understand the things that God is preparing for us in the New Heaven and the New Earth, we will see life as the Apostle Paul: But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
As for Peter, he had many ups and downs. But, when he made the decision to serve God with all of his heart, soul, and mind, his spiritual growth flourished. He became a servant of God who no longer followed his own agenda, and became a steadfast preacher, and a bold leader. He is the writer of the books of 1 and 2 Peter in the New Testament.
Jesus is coming soon! I don’t know about you, but that’s a big reason to rejoice. Have a blessed and Happy Sabbath!
Bible Reading: Mark 8:31-38, Revelation chapters 21-22
God, we thank you for the Sabbath. We also thank you for the plans you have to give us a new and better life in the New Heaven and New Earth. Please give us your strength as we excitedly wait for the return of your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen!
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.