Monday, March 21, 2011

We're All Day To Day

Maybe you know this about me, maybe you don't. I have had three kidney transplants, the most recent coming three years ago.

Three times in my life I have gone from the peace of the reality of good health to the reality of declining health accompanied by the myriad of complex and hard to explain emotional, spiritual and physical complexities. As I have written elsewhere, I am a better person for this all, though I never would have chosen this path, God's has deeply shaped me through these trials, for which I am deeply thankful, yet the pain of the process still lingers, still scares me from time to time. Like I said, it is complicated.

Every three months I get my blood tested, then a couple of days later visit the nephrologist. As the days approach, my mind starts to question my body, inventorying anything that might signify that something might be going bad; "Am I more tired than usual?" "I felt a little sick the other day." "My feet seem to be swelling" "Is my skin itching?" As the days approach, I think of reasons to cancel the appointment -- maybe it would be better not to know if something is going wrong, after all, you don't know what you don't know; ignorance sometimes seems bliss.

I got my blood taken last Thursday and went to the doctor today (we had to take my daughter to the airport today and I thought that might be a good reason to cancel the appointment -- we'd either have to come home and then back to Seattle, or find a way to kill 4 hours). I didn't cancel, I made my appointment.

I seem really cheery at my appointments, making small talk with the assistant as she takes my blood pressure (blood pressure can spike if your kidney is failing). Today she finished and said, "your blood pressure is good, 120/70, I'll go get the doctor." I had half expected her to look at the readout, scream and run for emergency help. So far so good. The doctor comes in, asks how things are, small talk, NCAA hoops, and then . . . the papers are in front of him, the papers with the results from Thursday's blood tests. The numbers tell the story now, what will they say? The time between him starting to peruse them and his speaking to me seeming to take forever. "Your Creatinine is 1.3." A simple sentence, the meaning of which most people would not know or care. But for me? He might as well have waved a magic wand over me and said "carefree." 1.3 - normal, 1.3 - healthy, 1.3 - a very well functioning kidney. Immediately I feel great. No tiredness, no itching, no anything. I feel great. I've been healed -- for three months.

Sometimes when somebody finds out about my health history, they say something like, "I can't imagine what it would be like to know that your kidney could fail." I love the discussions that ensue when I tell them the reality; "we are all day to day, I am just more aware of it than most people."

Life is too short, or more accurately, we have no idea how short or how long it will be. Jesus says "I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest." Is that your experience? I find that when it is not, it is often because of living in fear. God does not want you to waste your life, God does not want you to be afraid. He wants you to trust him -- with everything, and in the process experience a peace that is completely unexplainable. Every day God is calling you into an amazing Kingdom partnership with him - and he offers you fearlessness, a spell cast as we trust him, which says "carefree." What is God is calling you to, but that you are afraid to do? You may not have tomorrow, we are all day to day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It Would Be A Lie To Run Away

Today is Ash Wednesday the door though which we enter Lent, enter the journey to Easter. It is a time to look at our finitude, our frailty, our pain and even our death.

I did not grow up in a tradition that observed Lent. While there may be many reasons for its absence from the church calendar, ultimately its absence had theological consequences, or perhaps its absence was a consequence flowing from a larger theological weakness, I don't know. In my tradition, it was all good, and then it was Easter -- kind of super good, and the next week back to good again (until Christmas when it was super good again for a day). It was a theology that said our journey was a two segment journey to the cross and then from the cross. (actually it became a one segment journey, but that is for topic for another post)

A journey to the cross and a journey from the cross. While that is right, I think it is not right enough.

I think that our journey, instead of a two segment journey, is rather a three segment -- not necessarily linear -- journey, to the cross, through the cross and from the cross. While the miracle of grace tells us that God does all of the work in each of those segments, each is nonetheless necessary. And yet, the middle segment, the "through the cross" segment is often ignored. And for good reason; nobody wants to go to through the cross. The cross is suffering, the cross is pain, the cross is hard. "Jesus did the cross thing, not me."

Yes, Jesus "did the cross thing." But, can we truly identify with him without taking some time to identify with his suffering? I'm not suggesting some weird earning through suffering thing, I'm suggesting an identification thing. How do we fully identify with Christ if we never identify with his suffering. But, we don't want to go there. We live in a culture of suffering avoidance -- we spend $40 billion annually on pain medicine! We are a people obsessed with finding a cure for every possible pain, and that obsession infiltrates our Church and tells us we should do the same. And in the process, we lose something important.

Lent provides us with a cure for our obsession to find a cure for every pain. "Oh my Lord, to suffer as you do, it would be a lie to run away."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Who Told You That You Were Naked?

Who told you that you were naked? Genesis 3:11

Exposed, accused, guilty, shameful; whispered voices, “You are naked.” We are all works in progress, imperfect, often not the people we want to be. It is God’s plan for each of us to move towards our true self, what the Bible calls sanctified. While none of us will fully achieve that state this side of heaven, we are at the same time seen by God as having already attained it – through Jesus’ work on the cross. If you are a follower of Jesus, God sees you as complete, holy, without shame, and clothed.

- Are there voices that tell you otherwise?
- Whose voice might they be?
- Do they ever claim to be God’s voice?
- Whose voice is it that tells you that you are naked?

Take a moment and consider the tragic story of the fall of man and the restorative voice of God in the garden.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

The LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16–17

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2:25

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. Genesis 3:4

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:6-7

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?
Genesis 3:8–11

God’s plan is that each of us moves further and further into our true self, further and further into the person He already sees us as, further and further sanctified. He invites us to move forward, yet never condemns us; never tells us that we are naked.

- Who tells you that you are naked?
- What might the voice of God be saying to you instead?