The past two weeks haven’t exactly gone according to my plans. It has been over 20 years since I have experienced something in my life which rendered me physically unable to go about my daily life. I woke up Monday two weeks ago and knew something was not right in my body. Luckily I have been married just long enough to know, when my spouse says, “go get that checked out, now,” I actually know to listen to her. I ended up having two abdominal hernias repaired. Before I say anything else, I am very aware my outpatient surgery is a walk in the park compared to what many of us go through. My experience has re-acquainted me with what it is like to have to depend on others. I thought I would share a few lessons from my experience.
First, GRATITUDE. I am grateful for medical professionals who dance on the edge of two extremes: awe of God’s design in the human body and the responsibility of playing God’s instrument of healing in people’s lives. I pray for them regularly as you all receive their care, and now I too am a beneficiary. I am grateful for our staff team who stepped up and handled everything necessary for me to have the time off for recovery. The Sunday worship videos, believe it or not, were planned out a month before we knew I would need to have that Sunday off. We must not forget, if we walk in the will of God, we will see God’s hand providentially at work in our lives. A far piece from predestination, Providence is when God’s decisive action is interwoven in our lives and coincidence seems all the more planned for by God. God saw over the next hill for us and worked to provide for our needs.
Second, TRUST. The morning of the procedure, I was not worried about the surgery. It is very routine and I am in good health. I was worried about, “are people going to handle (at home, church, kids/school) the things I am responsible for?” As strange as it may sound, I was suddenly faced with a referendum on leadership: a good leader should never be indispensable to the system they lead. If things fall in your absence, then you are a failed leader. So that was weighing on me… I have a lot of irons in the fire. Then my devotional that morning was all about trust: trust in the Lord, trust in God’s work in other people, trust their calling and faithfulness. I’m going to try to convey nuance here: My trust in God’s work in others is not SO that what I want still gets done; rather, I am to trust that whatever they get done — because God is working in them too — will be the right thing, even if it is not what I wanted to get done. I learned a whole new form of trust that day and to release any worry about if things were done right or wrong because I am surrounded with people who love and serve Christ too… and I trust Christ’s work in them.
Third, PRAYER. I can testify as I watched the service on YouTube on Sunday and heard you all were praying for me, the sharpness of my pain was measurably less by midday Sunday than it was even upon waking up that morning. I never know how prayer works. I am just here to bear witness; it does work.
Finally, PATIENCE. I am not the most patient person. I walk fast, I value efficiency of words in conversation, and I rarely diddle around unless I am accomplishing something. Right now, even as I write this, if I am not slow about standing up, I will be sat down immediately by knifing pain in my abdomen. I am physically being forced to be patient just getting into and out of bed. Slow is fast, and fast is slow. So, I’m not ready to say I have learned this lesson, (Melissa giggles as I coach myself out loud to stand up and sit down slowly), but I am picking it up.
I have a renewed empathy for what you all go through in your medical journeys and I continue to consider it a privilege to be your pastor and walk through them with you.