I just purchased a new computer and started looking through some of my files to determine whether or not I should put some of the documents on my hard drive. As I was reviewing past assignments I stumbled across a Psalm that I wrote for one of my favorite classes that I took in seminary. I’m posting it in the hopes that it will be a blessing in your life at it as it has been in mine.
Today was a day that began like any other day. We all woke up and ate breakfast, dressed, and watched a little television before hitting the door. I decided to infuse my youngest son without accessing his port-o-cath. After three unsuccessful tries at sticking a vein I decided to access the port. Now, while all of this was going on, my son was kicking and screaming. Who could blame him? I am not particularly fond of being stuck with needles. Let’s face it. Needles are not that fun.
We finally called a home care nurse who proved to be our angel today. She accessed the port and we were on our way. While my wife and I encouraged our son, I could not help but feel like a failure. I am this child’s father. I should be able to access every time I try. It was very hard to admit defeat. Who really wants to be that far out of control?
As I continued to process the morning, I realized that my thoughts were so self-centered. I began to think about the impending week coming up in the life of our church. Next week is Holy Week. Beginning this Sunday, we focus our attention to Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem, which led to the trial and flogging, which led to the crucifixion, which led to the empty tomb.
I had to admit to myself that I was going down a road through which many of us travel. We turn to our egos. I should be much more grateful that this wonderful nurse helped us. I should be grateful that this medicine is provided for us and that my son’s future is very bright. Why then did everything have to be about me and my reaction?
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there is not a time to mourn, or a time to grieve. We all must process and journey through things to get to the side of wholeness and healing. The problem is that we can get so caught up in our own “stuff” that we can lose the beauty of a blessing that stares us in the face. This incident with the port reminds me to stand back up when I have been knocked down. Christ did the same for us. When he was knocked down (crucified) He stood back up and defied death itself.
This event with my son reminds me about my relationship with the notion of Holy Week and how we are to progress through the really bad stuff so that we may triumph in the resurrection. Just for this week, I will focus on what Jesus did for me without inviting my reaction to the gift of grace. I will focus on the fact that Jesus could have turned around at any time and said, “I will not continue this. It will be way too painful.” These are things that he did not do. Jesus pressed on. Not only did He press on, but He gave it all that He had. His primary motivation was to do the will of the Father.
Now, as for my five year old stinky boy, he is doing great. He picked up his choo-choo trains and went to daycare. His major concern for the day is what kind of opportunities to play are out there in the wild blue? I ask myself the same question. What kind of possibilities are out there for me to be still and lay witness to the loving messages or grace in my life? What about the constant revelations of faith, hope, and redemption?
We have moments when God reveals God’s self to us in ways that sometimes are very subtle and sometimes knock a person to their knees. I recently had an encounter with the Divine on a day when I least likely expected one. I know a couple who live in a retirement home. They have a lot of illness between them and so they do not live in the same room, but whenever I visit the home I always see them together. They are a remarkable pair who I have come to admire.
She has Alzheimer’s disease and the manifestation of her illness is progressing very rapidly. As typical of the disease, there are some good days and some bad days. Through it all, her husband has been there for her every day. Both of them are well into their nineties and have been married over seventy years. Their story is an amazing chronicle of love, commitment, and honor.
I received word that this dear sweet lady had a stroke and was not expect to recover from her condition. Immediately hearing about the issue, I visited her in the nursing home. Her husband came into the room and we began to talk. I watched him and how he tenderly held her hand and was concerned that his wife knew that she was not alone. He was there just like he had been so many times before.
I sat and watched this holy exchange. I watched the vows of marriage being fulfilled and carried out in a way that took my breath away. Their hands joined together served as a reminder of their love and the glue that connected them together as a single family. I was honored to be in that room. I was touched to be a living witness to this special kind of covenant. I left thinking that this is the promise that I made to my wife. I want to be the person that will hold my wife’s hand and she hold mine.
I was made freshly aware of why I am a minister of the Gospel of Christ. I am invited into those places in people’s lives when the presence of God is so real that you can almost touch it. I am privileged to be a part of the lives of those who call me their pastor. I am allowed to stand in the presence of those around me and to share the message of salvation. Sometimes it is delivered with words, while other times it is delivered in silent witness.
As we celebrated Epiphany this past week, I am grateful that God allowed me to have my own realization. I am grateful for the lives of this couple and the honor to be a witness to their commitment to their God, and to each other. May we all be living Gospels to those who are in need of the Word which came for us, sacrificed for us, and lives within us.