My Corner of the Kingdom—September 2019
The last six months Jana and I have wandered from doctor’s office to tests to new meds and surgery for various ailments. We often joke we have forgotten what “normal” felt like. Today (8/26/19) we took another jaunt to a Wake Forest Baptist Health endocrinologist to explore the “why’s” behind my thyroid fluctuations. Multiple blood tests have meant sticks from the phlebotomist with no incidence. Today she apparently grazed a nerve because my whole arm went bonkers for several hours. On the way back we stopped at the foot of the Fancy Gap incline (Loves/McD’s) to take a break. A string of bikers and a hearse were about to depart for some ceremony, so I started to take a photo. The next thing I know I was on the ground pinned with a car tire on my leg and pants; a family had not seen me and put it in reverse. After my repeated banging on the side door yelling ‘get off my leg,’ they did. It took several minutes for the shock to wear off, and aside from having to order a new pair of my beloved cargo pants, a little blood and a patch of scraped skin that feels like 2nd degree sunburn, as far as I can tell, no broken bones.
Before you declare me accursed (he deserved it all; Thyroid & Lyme disease prove he is apostate) or blessed (are you kidding, nothing broken?), resist the temptation of our modern society to categorize, rate, or place every event or every situation in our lives along some spectrum of good and evil, of like or unlike. Not everything that happens to us is proof of God’s love, His abandonment, or His wrath. Not everything that happens should spur debate on the free will of man and the sovereignty of the Almighty.
Let’s take a look at a few passages that lend insight. In Acts 12 one apostle is put to death by the sword, another is freed from certain death in prison by direct angelic intervention. No judgment is made as to whether God loved one more than the other, or one was more valuable to the Kingdom than the other. God never operates out of whimsy or caprice; we must resist trying to assign intent or act like we understand the grand design of God from any one act or situation. In John 21 Peter & John, like true siblings in the faith, are at it again. Jesus has just had the immortal talk with Pete about feeding My sheep and lambs ending with ‘Follow Me!’ Peter wants a comparison drawn and immediately looks at John saying, ‘what about him?’ Jesus tells him, nope, not biting on that one. I told you your task: “Follow Me!” When David declares in Psalm 37.4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” it is not a transactional “if/then” deal. He means don’t compare your life to anyone else’s, look to God, and when you are more enamored of His Presence than My presents, you’ll have everything you need and even want. Our churches need to quit comparing themselves to other churches, other denominations, other areas of the country, and being consumed with jealousy or woe is me or fixating on what we have or don’t have. We are who we are, and our primary identity is we are His. When our worship and service are focused on Him (Col. 1.18), comparisons fade away. Now it’s time to sing the chorus ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.’
In Tombstone (1993), as Wyatt Earp visits his best friend for the last time in a hospital, these terse lines are uttered. Doc Holliday: “What did you ever want?” Earp: “Just to live a normal life.” Doc: “There is no normal life, Wyatt; there’s just life. Now get on with it.” As I watched a recent video David Dockery sent out about his stage IV esophageal cancer, pity or sorrow were not my reactions; worship was. David used it not to decry his condition but to give honor and glory to God. He pointed me to Jesus and winning others to Him. Let’s not look at someone’s perceived blessings or lack thereof; let’s follow Christ and get on with seeing others and ourselves through His eyes. Thanks, Doc, and thanks, Dock(ery).