I wonder what Jesus saw when he looked at this man. As soon as Jesus gets out of the boat this man comes out of the tombs to meet him. Did Jesus know that he too would one day be spending time in a tomb? Perhaps he also knew that, like the demon possessed man, no one could bind him. Chains could not hold the demoniac, hell couldn’t hold Jesus. The man knew who Jesus was instantly. It was as if all the evil in the world, bound up in this one man, knew the power of “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” to put an end to the suffering. As a fellow chain-breaker, Jesus knew what freedom would mean for this man. The man (or rather the demons inside) did not want Jesus to send them away, but Jesus – perhaps seeing in the man his own after death experiences, sent them away, leaving the formerly demon-possed man in his right mind. Later something interesting happens. Everyone around wanted Jesus to leave and the man, now without demons wanted to go with him. Throughout the entire book of Mark, Jesus is commanding people not to tell about their healing. Over and over again, he commands them to keep quiet. Here, but not only here, Jesus commands him to go and tell. The only other place in the entire book that Jesus commands someone to go and tell is after his own resurrection.
When tombs become empty, then people are told to go.
Miriam has Pneumonia. I have been very challenged this week by illness. Since last Saturday, my wife was diagnosed with the flu, myself with a sinus infection and my poor little girl with a double ear infection and pneumonia. It is definetely the most sick our family has ever been at one time. God has blessed us so much with good health prior to this, now we are facing a number of new challenged.
Parenthood is one adjustment after another. Krista, who is a fantastic nurse practitioner, understands the human body and its health/illness so much more than I do. She is incredibly talented in what she does and you can see it in how she treats Miriam’s sickness at home. I am sure that without her, Miriam would not be in as good of shape as she is. The challenge is when I am responsible for seeing to Miriam’s care on my own.
This past Thursay Krista was working and I had to take Miriam to the doctor. This was when she was diagnosed with pneumonia. I do not mind taking Miriam to the doctor one bit. The difficult part is that Krista knows all sorts of probing questions to get more information than I do. It is amazing how much more confident I feel about what is happening medically when Krista and I both go to the doctor together than when I go alone. I feverishly try to recap all the important bits of information with the doctor before leaving the examination room so that I will not forget anything that needs to be relayed to Krista when I get home. When she begins to question what happened, I provide for her a well-rehearsed summary of the doctors visit, waiting for my pat on the back for being such a good dad and husband. Then more questions I should have asked 2 hours prior are asked and I am left thinking that I didnt even know to ask those questions.
This leads me to visit WebMD. I go there to get another professional summary of what is happening. Going there and typing, “pneumonia” into the search engine provides me with the following results:
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very sick. You may cough, run a fever, and have a hard time breathing. For most people, pneumonia can be treated at home. It often clears up in 2 to 3 weeks. But older adults, babies, and people with other diseases can become very ill. They may need to be in the hospital.
This is where I begin to panic slightly. What does “can become very ill” mean? How do I know when they need to go to the hospital? This raises even more questions than I had when I first did the search. In the end, I am left to trust in my wife’s discernment regarding what course of action is needed hoping that I will continue to receive step by step instructions on what to do and when.
It seems that I am called more and more each day to trust in God and his working hand in the lives of those around me. The truth he created in how our bodies function and dysfunction and how he has led his creation to discover treatment for these dysfunction continues to leave me in awe of his redemtion. I cannot wait for the day when every illness and disability is vanished and every tear is wiped away because of our reunion with him. I sincerely believe that sickness is the result of mankind’s sinfullness. When God banished Adam and Eve from the garden and they suffered pain and sickness for the first time, the separation from God was felt in their bodies. As we walk away from God, God is walking toward us, leading us and redeeming us. He guides us toward wellness, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Please pray for my family as we battle illness. Please pray for our world as we battle separation from God.
A Filtered Life
Friday is my last day of work. I have been thinking a lot about the 8.5 months I have worked here at Hope for Tomorrow. HFT is a foster agency which services all of Texas and is about to enter Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mexico. My job has been Clinical Director for half of Texas’ 10 regions.
I was not too excited about my actual job description when I began. Basically, I was to read and correct treatment plans on children making sure that all the necessary components were included and that the grammar and spelling, etc. was correct. Interacting with children and foster parents was not in my job description. Despite not being the kind of guy that really likes paperwork, I found a certain joy in my job.
In a lot of ways I had a filtered glimpse at the abused lives of the children we serve. Every child placed with HFT is removed from their home by the state due to abuse or neglect. Some cases are much worse than others but what I see is only words on a page. Those words are descriptive of actions and behaviors that are the result of the shattered lives these kids have lived. They only describe in a simplified way the beatings, verbal attacks, sexual invasion, and abandonment these kids have experienced.
Sometimes I was glad all I saw was a filtered glimpse of their lives.
We do not like to think that these things happen. We think it is atrocious when they do. We may offer a prayer over lunch for the kid we heard about on the news, but then we often go back to our filtered lives.
On the rare occasion that I have gotten to interact with a child that has come into the office, I am sometimes shocked by how “normal” the child appears given his/her history. Sometimes I even get uncomfortable because my life is not so filtered anymore. There is now a face to put with the name.
How close can I get without getting hurt? I want to help but not at the expense of my own comfort and well-being. I would like to do something for these kids but I am afraid I might get too invested and then experience loss when I (or they) move on. These are some thoughts I have had since I began working here.
Now I am transitioning into children’s ministry. Can I be invested without risk? My time at HFT has shown me that I cannot. When I attempt to keep safe my filtered life, I sacrifice relationships that could grow. Kids do not receive the care they need when we do not put ourselves 100% out there for them. Unless we are willing to become vulnerable to the hurt they feel, we will not be doing them good. Their lives have been plagued by “caregivers” who held back love.
I hope that the children I work with in Mesquite will find that I am someone who does not hold back and is willing to live a life unfiltered by my own self-preservation. I hope that I am able to make them feel that when I am with them, they are cherished by God. I hope they know that there isn’t anyone who can love them as much as he.
A Minister of Pain
Here is an interesting quote from My Utmost for His Highest.
Never be afraid when God brings back your past. Let your memory have its way with you. It is a minister of God bringing its rebuke and sorrow to you. God will turn what might have been into a wonderful lesson of growth for the future.
Sometimes the hurt from our past is something that we try to stifle and push down so its harm can no longer, “have its way with us.” What vivid imagery to describe the effects that our shame and hurt possesses sometimes. Chambers says this is a minister of God. Its difficult to think sometimes that any minister of God would want to surface some repressed hurt from our past. But, at times, this is necessary. When God brings back your past, let your memory have its way with you. How is God trying to minister to you through the pain, the hurt, and the shame which you have tried to suppress?