This path leads to Siloam.
Again I return to my theme. HE is with me.
Really it’s His theme. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.” These are all the actions of a present, diligently attentive shepherd, and I am more than content to be his loved sheep.
Has it been worth it? Am I glad that He forced me, (And is forcing me) to toil through this suffering?
The answer must be, and is, yes.
My soul says, "Yes, Lord. You know what is best for me and this is certainly the shining narrow path, no doubt the only path by which I can find Jesus. My flesh now is in agony but my soul is fat . . .. With my soul brother Job I must say, ‘Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know . . . I have heard you by the hearing of the ear, (the ears of my heart) but now my eyes, (of my heart) see you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’ Job 42: 3-6."
No doubt Job’s sufferings were far more extreme than mine but the problem with my suffering is, It’s really mine. I am really in it.
I wish I could truly connect my own inner awareness of God’s constant beautiful presence and like a transfusion, inject it into your life.
About a month ago a co-worker friend died of cancer. He was a very happy go lucky type. About a year before the cancer came he turned his life completely over to Jesus. There was a true change and he began to grow as a Christian.
He collapsed out of the blue, in his van on the way to the coast. His entire left side went numb. An ambulance rushed him to the hospital. An MRI revealed brain cancer. The initial surgery relieved the partial paralysis but there were more tumors deep in the brain that were inaccessible. The doctors gave him from three to four months to live. I visited with him many times during the next eight months. He had a shine to his life. He knew exactly where he was going and was unafraid. In fact He was eager for the destination ahead of him. “I’ve got a one way ticket home!” He would grimace and grin, telling everyone that visited Him in his extremity.
He asked many of the ‘Why?’ questions and suffered tremendous pain during these months, yet the joy and peace radiating from his being profoundly affected everyone who visited him. He had had a good life but was only forty-four years old. Why had this happened? (The only question worth asking in his situation.)
One day a few months before his death I visited him. That particular day his pain was tremendous. In deep agitation he spoke, stopping in the middle of words to catch his breath. He was exhausted, his face completely haggard, shoulders sharp, thin arms, slate gray face.
He shared with me the moment of his salvation. As a nominal Catholic, his wife had dragged him to Mass one day. He was sitting there thinking of the football game when a woman got up to sing a ‘special music’ song. Thoughts of God and eternity were a million miles away, his attention nonetheless was caught by the ethereal beauty of her voice and guitar. Without conscious thought he began to enjoy the peace and the anointing of the Lord upon her music. It was a very simple acoustic song. These are some of the words. “Holy Spirit come to me, open my heart to you . . . That I may know Jesus and I seek His face . . . That I may hear his voice, when He calls out my name . . . Holy Spirit, breathe in me open my life to you . . . Oh my Jesus, live in me, I give my life to you . . .”
He told me that somewhere in the middle of this beautiful song he was seized by a great longing and without struggle or reserve he simply asked Jesus to come in. And here in his narrative his face lit up with a great smile peeping out of the lines of pain etched on his face.
“And He did . . . He filled me . . . He just . . . Came in . . .”
He was fumbling for words to express this wonderful invasion of God. Remember this salvation experience was when he was in the pink, when life was a million years long for him healthy at forty-three . . . Eight months before the collapse when cancer was just a rare, bad rumor that only happens to ‘someone else.’
And now, telling me this story under the crushing weight of a certain, terminal illness, the joy and the peace of that moment returned.
I felt as if I was in the room with a giant. Or an angel . . . And in that moment, in the midst of the pathos I felt a great envy. “If only I had a terminal illness . . . If only I could follow him now . . . It’s not fair . . . He gets the privilege, (after a horrid but short trial) of checking into the most wonderful vacation spot in the Universe. He will soon see his Lord face to face, while I still peer vainly through the ‘dark glass’ and suffer on and on and on and on and . . .”
In all of this writing, and in all of this suffering I am searching . . . Constantly searching for a way to live. A way to enjoy. A way to win through to health. I keep looking for meaning and abundance and find only rumors of glory. (I’m weeping again.)
I know it’s a sin . . . I know it’s wrong to long for my eternal body so much but I just can’t help it. Its so compelling . . .
My heart is like a compass seeking north, pointing towards home. Yearning towards that place where all is well.
I need help . . .
I’ve got to find some land . . . I can’t tread water much longer. I’m afraid of losing my mind.
Is it worth it to live denying myself the few, sinful dissipating addictions that would medicate my pain? I haven’t tried it but I’ll bet marijuana would whisk me off into comfort. I’m sure heroin would from what I’ve heard.
Once more I am driven back to my only refuge. He is with me. How can I give Him up? I would be a moron to grasp a few moments of medicated stupor in these lies, and lose the closest sense of his presence. To risk ultimately losing my soul itself. I would certainly lose my family and ruin God’s plans for me.
,Esau, a man in the Bible, did exactly what I was suggesting a few sentences ago. He is out hunting. Comes back empty-handed, and empty-stomached. Chances are that he wasn’t starving to death but he thought he was. The Bible says, “Esau came in from the field, and he was weary . . . Sell me some of that stew . . . Look, I am about to die . . .” Jacob responds, “Sell me your birthright . . . Swear to me.” Esau, in an extreme agony of hunger says, “I swear . . .” One of the saddest sentences in Scripture comes next. “He ate, and drank, and thus he despised his birthright.” His agony drove him to it.
He lost everything. He became the wanderer, the leader of men in the desert. Raiders . . . HE . . . WAS . . . NOT . . . STARVING TO DEATH . . . But He thought he was.
I . . . AM . . . NOT . . . GOING CRAZY . . . And I am not going to sell my birthright. It’s all I have.
It’s all you have too.