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Facing Death… and facing death…

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:
19  Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple, and in three days I will build it again.” 20  “Are you going to build it again in three days?” they asked him. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple!” 21  But the temple Jesus was speaking about was his body. 22  So when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had said. John 2:19-22 (TEV)

The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. 2 She died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and weep for her.  Gen 23:1–2

179         Days of silence and of intense grace… Prayer face to face with God… I broke out into thanksgiving, on seeing those people, mature in years and experience, who opened out to the touch of grace. They responded like children, eagerly grasping the chance to convert their lives, even now, into something useful… which would make up for all the times they have gone astray and for all their lost opportunities. Recalling that scene, I put it to you: do not neglect your struggle in the interior life.

They aren’t the devotional readings you want to come up the day someone takes a long needle, places it in your carotid veins, and checks out your heart from the inside.  There these readings the readings in red were,   The procedure they told me, had less than 1% serious complications, but if you know me, that’s not good odds.  I would prefer them in the region of .0000001% chance.

But here I was, waiting impatiently for the procedure to began.  I had signed the paperwork saying who had the power to make decisions for me if I didn’t come out of the sedation, papers authorizing blood transfusions, and, of course, the paperwork saying I understood that such medical procedures are risky and that I wouldn’t sue if I died.  (How could I? But that isn’t where your mind goes…)

For the first time in 10 major surgeries in my life, I was afraid going into the surgical suite/cath lab, I didn’t like that feeling at all.  I have sat by many during such times, I have been there myself before, but the fear this time… I started to plan my own funeral- but who would I tell?

I was sure I was facing death, and yet… I survived.

So now what?

I’ve had people tell me before that such events change people.  But then again, a motorcycle accident, a cardiac arrest, a surgery to replace two heart valves, all that didn’t change me that much, except to prepare me for ministry.  Okay, to prepare me for a very unique and different ministry.

But what would come out of this very dark, very anxiety-laden time?  Why didn’t God come and quiet my soul, like He had some many times?  Why couldn’t I, a guy who teaches people how to minister to others in such times, find the peace I had led so many others too?

It’s funny, in that emptiness, in that moment where they “sealed” my body to the surgery table with some super form of saran wrap, ( My anxiety helped me  wonder if they were pre-fitting me for a body-bag!) in that lack of peace, in those moments in that lack of anything, I was sure it didn’t matter. If I went home to God, the sins that concerned me would be covered.  If I stayed, there was a final to take, sermons to grade, blogs to write.  But those things didn’t exist at that moment when they put a drape over my head so the surgeon could do his job….

there was nothing…

and because there was nothing… there was the proof of God.

Again, I couldn’t point to any feeling, matter of fact they led me down other roads.  My knowledge as a pastor failed me.

But that doesn’t mean God did.  If God is God, then in those moments I sense nothing, in those moments where I can’t depend on logic, or emotion, He has to be there, beyond me.  If we die, we are with Him, if we don’t, He will draw us closer to Him, strengthening us so we can bring others along on the journey.

I have often wondered why Jesus, who was, is, and will be God had to face His own… well, mortality, so often. Why God would go there so often, almost as if he was fixated on it.

Because it wasn’t just His death He faced.  It was all our death.  The death of sin.

He did that, so we could face the emptiness of death.. the barrenness of the moment of facing it.

So that in our baptism, our leaving this life will become meaningless.

For no matter what, whether our mind can process it or not, whether our emotions can cope with it… ultimately we are in His hands.

Nothing else matters…

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 957-963). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

VIP Concert Passes, Surgical Nurses and Divine Appointments..

Discussion thought of the day…

Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. 6  Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 (TEV) 

You always come out beaten. Resolve, each time, to work for the salvation of a particular soul, or his sanctification, or his vocation to the apostolate. If you do so, I’ll be sure of your victory.  (1)

I usually don’t write blogs about my life…just about the lessons I learn
So it was a very busy last few days…..

Friday night was a incredible concert and meet and greet with the “piano guys”  (youtube them if you never have) .  A anniversary present for Kay, to see the musicians that have gotten her playing violin again.. (she needs to pick up guitar again – but violin is very much a blessing to our praise team)
Sunday was an awesome tieme at church – attendance above average – and I think the sermon and Bible Study were above average as well….(music is also awesome…in that it beings us so aware of god’s presence!  (you can read it – it should be a blog
Then a bbq with friends so old, they knew me when I was still naive enough to think I could change the world, because of my great knowledge of theology… ( I still hope to  set the change some of the world… because I know of God’s love and work..)
Then this morning, up way to early… off to the hospital to have a procedure.. (they didn’t call it surgery… for some reason) – to cut me open, and replace my implanted guidant defibrillator.   A great staff there, they ever laughed at the jokes and stories I told… before they gave me the happy juice…

So how does this all roll into a devotional thought….

It’s all about God’s appointments… the people he brings us into contact, the lives we affect without knowing it..

At the concert, it was the lady sitting at the table next to me, a stay at home mom (dad sitting opposite a teacher from the desert) .  Another piano guys massive fan, I gave her the signed VIP guest card that the piano guys signed at our special meet and greet.  We had talked about God and the challenges of kids with special needs before the concert.  But it was the tag that she will probably remember – and the strange guy wearing a priest collar who gave it to her.  The joy on her face was incredible… and I pray the seeds were planted deeply…

The second one that comes to mind is my RN and the aide that were assigned to me.  We had a lot of fun… and talked about ministry and nursing ( lots of commonality there) and the a great last moment conversation occurred – as we sat outside the chapel waiting for Kay to pull the car around.   We had a lot of fun… if surgery…. err a procedure… was to be considered fun.   I’ve never had people thank me for my time with them in the hospital… but both did.

All through the weekend were such times.  Times to “be human”  (if ministers are allowed to be) times to enjoy life, but also be aware of God’s presence. of seeing people respond to mentions of God, not from a point of fear or dismissing Him, but a point of curiosity. Times which bring me great joy…

And as I sat at home… I wonder how many of those times I miss… because I am deep in thought, or somewhat anxious, or distracted by the trauma I am watching people experience, and so I don’t treat people all the time the way Josemaria Escrova encourages above.

What if every time we interacted with people, we realized that they were drawn closer to Christ, because the Holy Spirit was at work.  Either Christ delivering them from sin and the anxiety of death…or helping them realize the Spirit’s work sanctifying them and setting them apart for His work, or encouraging tthat work – for all have the vocation of God’s priests (as in St. Peter’s priesthood of all believers, not priest/pastor) . no matter whether their “other vocation” is that of priest, or pastor, or father or mom, or secretary, or pro athlete, or president… each of the those vocations is also that of a priest of God…..

St Josemaria Escriva

St Josemaria Escriva (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

I encourage you, as often as you can, and 10 times more, remember that you walk with God – and His desire is to call all to Him… for that is why Christ died on the cross.

Have a blessed day… and thanks for the prayers!

Dt

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 563-565). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

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