Friday, November 9, 2012

30 days of Thankfulness. Day 8 & 9, "Perspective & Mercy"



<--- font="font"> That's my Saturn in the fog of a morning in Duluth.  I love that car.  It has been the best automobile I've ever had.  It's driven me to Virginia and back, Tennessee and back, and to my job and back.  I love that car.

Unfortunately, due to age, that car cost me roughly $2100 on a credit card yesterday.  New struts, breaks, Y-bar, etc.  It made me want to go home and eat a heaping helping of Draino.

Instead of a scrumptious meal of drain cleaner, I borrowed my Dad's car and went to visit a friend in the hospital.

His wife is having surgery for a brain tumor.  I told him that he and his wife always find the most interesting hospitals to have surgery because I alway manage to get lost going to them.  In this case, the hospital was on the University of Minnesota campus.  There is a delightful bout of construction all around the campus, so aside from getting lost, I also managed to trap myself on various closed roads, all while desperately needing to find a toilet.  Once I did find a place to park, I walked to the hospital amongst people much younger, better looking, and with more hair than I.  Once in said hospital, it took me 15 minutes to find a toilet that wasn't being used for a napping area for the elderly or handicapped.  Naturally, I got lost trying to find the recovery room.  It was just a banner day for me all around.

____________________


It's easy for me to whine and complain.  It all comes quite naturally to me.  I have no idea how long it will take me to pay off this debt.  I barely squeak by as it is.

But then there is the brain surgery.

My friend is an interesting guy.  He has been a psychiatric nurse in the military.  As such, he can often read me like a book.  I like to believe that I have good powers of observation.  For the most part, I think that is true.  At the same time I have realized that I also have massive blinders in certain areas.  My friend pointed out to me that I really enjoy shocking people. (And not the kind where you rub your feet on the carpet and then zap people.) While I think there is a time and place for this, it's a behavior that I need to learn to manage better.

I am a deeply flawed person.  I have a laundry list of issues that I need to deal with.  I am stubborn and selfish and do not want to hand them all over to Jesus.  I am a bad, bad monkey!

But then there is the brain surgery.

12 hours of surgery for a tumor behind the eye.  This is not the first surgery.  I do not know if it will be the last.

I love my car.  But I do not love being in a debt that will take me an eternity to pay off.  But it is not brain surgery. (Finally got to use that phrase in a different context.)

My friend has an incredible sense of peace.  I asked him how he is experiencing God in all of this.  He pulled me aside and said he had such a sense of blessing.  Blessing?

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." Phil. 1:29

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil. 3:10 & 11 

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross..." Heb. 12:2

Blessing.


For some reason, the ability to suffer is a key ingredient to walking with Christ.  The greatest men and women in Scripture all suffered for God.  It was in the suffering that they were most able to identify with God.  I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography by Eric Metaxas.  He noted how Bonhoeffer considered it a great privilege to suffer and be executed by the Nazis for Jesus.  My old Seminary president died of a form of melanoma.  He considered it a great privilege because the pain he felt was a taste of the suffering of Christ.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4

If I work out in the gym long enough I shall be in peak physical condition and will therefore be invincible.  If I could get a better job, or my book makes me rich, I will be unstoppable.  If I attain all of the above, I will become God.  This is what I lust for most of all.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4

When we mourn, when we suffer, when we go through the despair and are most vulnerable, that is when we are most human.  It is in those times where we can be honest and know our finitude and frailty.  And it is in that place where we can experience the presence of God at it's most intimate.

This God suffers.  He suffers with us.  From a baptism in a river among those hungry to repent, to a cross between two thieves, this God identifies with a deeply flawed humanity.  He suffers for us.

It is a strange thing to say that in our suffering we can feel his mercy, but I believe it to be true.  I do not comprehend this, but I feel it deep in my bones.  His ways are not our ways, nor our thoughts like his.  Perhaps that is why he is meant to be experience more than understood.

Perspective.  
Over $2000 for my beloved VUE.  
But it is not brain surgery.

"Who for the joy set before him endured the cross."

Mercy.


Peace

Joe

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