Last night I wrote a post about more of our weekend with SK, but got so caught up in the perverse world of 'Criminal Minds', I didn't manage to finish it. I don't know why I get sucked into these things. Cop shows, that is. I mean, I really don't like watching the crimes committed. Hate seeing the victims as they squirm and plead in the moments prior to their untimely awful deaths, but it's interesting to watch how the crimes are always solved. Always. And always in a single hour. It's miraculous. Those cops/FBI/CSI/NCIS agents are so brilliant.
(Beve and E just opened the back-door to mow, and said, "Just kidding." Because it just started pouring! So much for that! E's really glad she changed her clothes for those few moments before having to go back up to campus.)
Anyway, as I was saying, I just get sucked into these shows at times and forget what I'm doing. Ridiculous, huh? Like Beve's mowing, so much for that post. But I do have a couple of more observations about our time in Spokane last weekend.
First, while SK was busy, we spent Saturday evening with friends we've known for three decades. Beve and the husband worked together the first year we were married, the year we lived in Spokane. We lived in a small apartment which is now a parking lot for a hospital on the South Hill, and these folks were some of the first people we entertained in our new home. They remember being surprised by the bookcases in our small apartment, filled with the kinds of books no one they knew even read. The husband said, "You have a photographic memory, don't you?" I think I snorted my rooibos tea. "Not even close," I told him.
"But you are a genius."
"No way, no how." If I ever gave that impression...well, let me just say, if I'm ever the smartest person in the room, it's because I'm the only one sitting there.
We spent a lot of time that night talking about matters of physical health. See, the wife has struggled with a lot of ill health in the last decade. Breast cancer, for one thing. And chronic pain, for another. Now, it's a full-time job, taking care of her health. Eating a certain way, taking the right combination of vitamins and medications, etc. She pays a whole lot of attention to what goes into her body and what she does with that same body. At the same time, she believes that God will heal her completely, just as Jesus healed in the gospels.
Now I trod lightly when I responded to her, and I tread lightly here as I write about it, because I believe that Jesus definitely did heal in the gospels, sometimes because 'His heart was moved by compassion.' However, I also believe that what He primarily intended in His healing was that the Kingdom Come. Healing as a sign and wonder to point to Him actually being that Kingdom come in human flesh. So too today, at least in regard to my own relationship with chronic pain. Yes, I mean that. What I mean is, I have to ask what will bring Him greater glory and surrender to that. Maybe a miraculous healing will do the job for her. But for me, I've come to believe that this ministry of suffering is a holy thing. Granted as a gift. I may not always be comfortable with it, but I accept it. "I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His suffering...and so somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-12). My suffering is nothing compared to His suffering. Absolutely nothing. The weight of the world literally on his shoulders, bowing His head, piercing His hands and feet. To know Him this way, to participate in this somehow? Yes, Lord, I say by faith. If it best glorifies You in my life. Whatever it takes.
I did say this gently to our friend that night. Sort of. But we come at this problem from different places. I get that. There are many, many believers who, with every bit as much faith as me, believe that healing alone is the only possible point. And maybe they're right. Maybe I'm just a little crazy for believing that pain is a gift, and is actually something He can/will/does use to glorify Himself through my little life. Or maybe I'm just trying to justify why I continue to live in pain with no end in sight. Maybe. But I live in joy and hope and trust that my life counts...as it is. Not after the pain is over, not after healing, but today, as it is, because He is working, and He is glorified in me, and through me.
Wow, quite a rant there. But here's the other moment (and perhaps another rant) from the weekend. We went to church with SK Sunday morning. She's going to a new church, which is a church plant from the church she went to for the last three years. And, of course, it's fairly small at the moment, this being its 7th week in existence. But Sunday morning, a man told the congregation that they'd met their budget for the month of October, so whatever offering they received for the rest of the month they'd be giving away. Sure, there were many projects they needed to do around their new facility, but this was a core value that they'd committed to before they'd started. So it was important that they start as they meant to live. From the beginning. This was impressive to me. God-filled, actually. There are always so many reasons NOT to do what God intends. But to give away--even as they actually still need the money, simply because they had meant their monthly goal: this is what it means to live the counter-intuitive 'glorify God in my life, no matter what it costs' life we're called to live in the Kingdom. Beve and I left that church, dropped SK off, feeling great about the folks she's chosen to throw her lot in with for this next year. Disciples of Jesus have always looked a little crazy compared to the average Joe. Always looked swam against the stream. Giving away life in order to save it, dying to self in order to live for Him. A little crazy. But again, whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to glorify Him in our lives. Collectively as well as individually.