Friday, April 27, 2007

I Look To The Hills...

I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? (Psalm 121: 1)

Several weeks ago, I learned I had blockage in one of the main arteries in my heart. It was a complete surprise, especially for a hemophiliac who prides himself on eating appropriately and exercising regularly. In fact, it was while exercising that I felt the first of those uncomfortable feelings that led me to schedule a series of tests that eventually identified the problem.

After a week of various appointments and consultations, it was decided that a single by-pass surgery would be the best long-term solution. Of course, when you add hemophilia and HIV to the mix, what is a routine (albeit serious) surgery becomes extremely complicated over night.

Thankfully, I live in a community where the quality of medical care and expertise vastly outreaches the size of the town and, in my opinion, equals anywhere in the country. From the doctors to nurses to hospital personnel, I could not be happier with the process or outcome. To say that people have gone out of their way to provide support and care is an understatement.

Like so many in my position, I could not begin to name everyone who has made this journey bearable and possible. Family, friends, even strangers have provided a glimpse into the very best of what the Body of Christ can be when we come together and act like it.

One person whose support meant a great deal to my family was our next-door neighbor, Chris. Everyday from the time we entered the hospital, Chris would send a bible verse via text message and would provide a “devotional theme for the day”. It never ceased to amaze me how perfectly each day’s Scripture passage matched the particular issue we faced.

The day I was to take my first walk around the hospital, the verse came from Isaiah reminding me that we would mount up like wings of eagles and “walk and not faint” (Is. 40: 31).

The third day after surgery, when all surgery patients face that mystical, but all too real “wall” of pain, the scripture verse encouraged me to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1: 9).

The day I woke up feeling particularly concerned about what would happen next, the verse echoed Jeremiah’s words of a God who “knows the plans He has for us… plans for good…” (29:11).

Everyday was a new day, not always easy, but always wrapped in the sweetness of God’s word sent sincerely and humbly by one of God’s most precious servants.

My neighbor is not an ordained or professional preacher. He works at a church, but doesn’t have the title “minister”. But… I could not have had a better pastor during the past weeks of my life.

Chris reminds me that the best of who we are in Christ has little to do with titles or training and everything to do with our hearts. And, anyone of us, lay or clergy, could learn a thing or too from his actions, not from preaching a great sermon or growing a mega-church, but by simply being Jesus in our midst.

We Christians often make things too complicated and take ourselves way too seriously. We convince ourselves that the size of our congregation or the vastness of our programming is the mix by which the Jesus formula is spread. We too often believe that the size of our church facility, the pedigree of our pastor or the quality of our music defines the depth of our faith. However, it remains that the best way to be like Christ is to simply live like Christ using everyday as a means by which everyone we meet knows that the God who created the universe is desperately in love with you and me. Wow! Think about that!

One of the last Scripture passages that Chris sent was from Psalm 121. This was an especially important verse not because of its familiarity, but because I live on a hill at the end of a cul-de-sac…well, I live on one half of a hill. On the other half lives my neighbor who reminds me that we do not need to look far to see Jesus at work. In fact, I just step out on my front porch and look to my left.

The nature and value of the Gospel is not just about eternity. It is also about here and now. One word, one touch, one prayer… can change a person’s life forever. You don’t need a church budget or seminary degree to be Jesus for your world… although text messaging does come in handy!

Be Salt and Light!


Blogger Tracy said...

God is so good! We told you from the first day that there was entirely too much left to be done for the Kingdom for you to be sick - He isn't finished with you, my friend! And neither are we - could you hurry and get it all back together, please??? I need pastoring! Ha. I love you.

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