2 Corinthians 4:16-18 : Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal
I am going to be utterly honest to start and I hope this doesn’t come across as ‘woe is me’ or a pity party, but here goes. It is hard to imagine what has happened to my body in the last 16 years. I just don’t get how it has managed to almost completely turn on me. Most of you know about the catastrophic digestive condition which has led me to intestinal surgery and possible permanent shut-down of my digestive system this Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic. The surgery is to repair basically a poor performance by my surgeon in Rochester in 2002. What a lot of you don’t know is since I got diagnosed with colitis in 1997, my eyes, ears, lungs, voice, and nerves have also been significantly damaged and have YET(soon) to be repaired. Just recently, I have found myself unable to wear shoes without the bottom of my feet feeling like they have razor blades across the length and width of them due to new nerve damage from a med I took. I live with these reminders of my body’s shortcomings every minute of every day, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning.
I write about all that for a couple of reasons. I have sugarcoated a lot of what I go through because I don’t like to complain and don’t want pity, but for this blog it’s essential to be honest with you, my friends, about the reality of the suffering that has bestowed me to this point. And the reason I need you to realize the reality of it, is to realize the source of my day to day hope and ability to live a general life of joy and peace.
I also wanted to touch on the fact we are so often quick to feel like we have to be tough and gritty in front of people when inside we are plagued. The truth of the matter is on our own we are all weak and plagued. We are all dying- and there are no exceptions. I suppose a lot of people’s main goal is to live and die as comfortably as possible, while suffering as little as possible. That certainly is still my hope for myself in all actuality-but the end of this body and this life will come the same way for every human being who has ever walked the face of this earth.
If everything I wrote above sounds morbid, let me explain on the contrary. With the difficulties I have encountered I have gone from feeling cursed because of them to feeling blessed in spite of them; all the while being insatiably hungry to use them to help people who don’t know Jesus to eventually know Jesus. If I suffer for sufferings sake, I served no more purpose for the eternal kingdom of heaven than had I actually lived healthy for healthy’s sake.
What I could/should be:
-Depressed at my physical situation at such a young age.
-Bitter at the surgeon who built my system wrong in 2002 , causing 11 years of problems and causing me to have to have the same difficult surgery again this Wednesday.
- Bitter at God for my situation (Which I was for many years).
- Still at a poker table, drowning my conditional sorrows in temporary escape.
What I am:
-My quality of life health wise right now on a scale of 1-10 can best be defined as Grace.
- Hopeful that all these problems will be cured and healed, just like I was cured and healed of Crohn’s Disease in 2011.
- Crohn’s free
- Married to a person who epitomizes God’s love for me. The only person who I would ever want to walk with me through these circumstances on a daily basis, and a person who was made and molded to handle the difficulties of all of this with such unwavering diligence. If you know her, you know this to be true: To know her is to love her.
- PROMISED that even if these afflictions continue in this world, that one day I will have every aspect of my health back.
- While maybe not by earthly definition, blessed in every way.
What I want to come of all of this:
-The one’s I love most who don’t know the truth of The Bible and the absolute guaranteed salvation that is found in giving your life to Jesus Christ, to somehow accept him into their hearts through my story.
I remember saying to God years ago when I finally surrendered it all to him, that if just one person benefits from my story than I can accept the scenario my physical body is in. Well, I have seen that already so I can’t go back to feeling cursed now; or ever again.
Last year on our wedding day, I had 6 full hours of digestive relief and pain-free living. From the time I got sick in October 1997 until today, August 17th 2013, I have never had that amount of consecutive relief. My previous record was about 4 hours, and my norm these days is about 30 minutes. That is obviously not a coincidence, but a definitive mercy from above. I don’t think that God gave me these afflictions- I think they are just a bi-product of a very imperfect world; but through my afflictions he has given me stories to convey that would have anyone who has heard them left with only the option-to either find me to be a liar who is making up one crazy coincidence or contrived story after another, or to find what I’m saying about God to be true.
Bottom line- I just want to influence people towards Jesus. And if I have to deal with 24 hour a day ailments of my most vital of organs to do that, who am I to demand complete health and normalcy? I’d love health and normalcy, but not if I were to lose focus of what’s eternally important because of it. There is no two ways about it, we are all going to spend eternity somewhere other than this earth.
The thing with faith is you don’t have to be sure God is real to believe-but once you do believe I assure you God will show himself to be real. To give my take on a play off of a C.S Lewis thought, think of this: If we waited for absolute proof that things will bring us good before we elected to participate in them, we would die from a lack of sleep. See you can never know sleep is real and good until you partake in it. And even once you partake in it; it is not something you can tangibly prove is real because you never really see it. You just know it happened. No matter who tells you about it, or preaches of its legitimacy, sleep can only be grasped once you attempt to get to know it. But so often unfortunately, when people talk of a God that they have experienced and seen to be true, people who haven’t seen it doubt it and cast it off without every looking into its credibility. How frustrating would it be if someone told you that you never slept because you can’t prove that it’s really sleeping you are doing? We never thought about doubting sleep before exploring its benefits, and that only brings us 8 hours of goodness and refreshment…But we quickly doubt the God of the Bible when the upside to him existing is much, much more than 8 hours of goodness and refreshment.
We live in a world where no individual thing can be put in front of our eyes without believing it was produced by an entity. If I put a couch in front of you and tried to convince you there wasn’t a grand designer of it, you would call me insane. So that being the case, we are unwilling to except any one thing can just appear without origin, except for the world which holds everything?
I recently heard a story on the radio about a pastor who was trying to convince a non-believer of what he knew to be true of Jesus Christ. The non-believer had a refutation for each and every point the pastor tried to make and the pastor finally broke down in tears and said “Listen, I didn’t bring this up to start a back and forth argument or try to make you feel bad, I just so badly want you to know the God I know and the truth I know, because I love you and care about you.” Dejected, the pastor went home and the unbelieving man showed up at his door later that day. The pastor asked why he was there, and the man said he wanted to give his life to Jesus. The pastor looked at him quizzically, and said, “How did this happen? You had a counterpoint to every point I tried to make.” “I did have a counterpoint to everything you said”, the man said, “except when you tearfully told me you loved me and cared about me. I had no counter for that. I knew right then your belief in Jesus was genuine and legit.”
Listen, I write this because in a hundred years all that will matter is where we are, not where we are now, or where we have been. The Bible says that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he has asked Jesus to live in his heart as his personal savior. Christians are not being judgmental or accusatory when telling people the essentiality of acceptance of Jesus- they are simply repeating the words Jesus himself spoke in a recorded book of history. The beauty of that is that it just takes belief and doesn’t require jumping through any hoops. In studying the history of world religions for my college class, I found that the only religion that has a God who lives, and a deity subject of a human on earth who never died was Bible believing Christianity. It is also the only faith that boasts of a salvation that requires only belief and acceptance in God, and not salvation through doing or being “good” or meeting a certain amount of self-action requirements. Who could every be truly “good” enough to satisfy a perfect God? Who would even want to try?
God has given us the ultimate gift; the ability to live in an imperfect place for a little while and experience good, bad, and everything in between- but with it the option (think about that, we have an option- which doubles as a duty to ourselves and the people whose lives we will touch with our legacy- which triples as the most logical life insurance policy one could ever sign up for) to go to a perfect place for all of time as the culmination of our imperfect journey.
I like to write. I believe it’s my best way of communicating my life’s stories.
I write because I have seen the goodness of the Lord, even amongst and probably most amongst the harshness of my physical difficulties.
I write because on Wednesday I will walk into a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, trust a Christian surgeon named “Church”, whom I found through the lead singer of a Christian band who shares my same storing of being healed of an incurable disease, and I will voluntarily subject myself to an arduous surgery that I was only supposed to have to have once.
I write because I am excited and overjoyed with where he is taking me on this earth. If he is for me, nothing can be against me.
I write because I can’t wait to wake up Wednesday after surgery and see my wife, and start our new life together; one which will allow me more time with her and less time with my bidet. =)
I write because I am not Benjamin Button , and neither are you. I understand better than most what its like to feel hopeless, and what its like to subsequently find the utmost hope.
And to steal a line from the pastor from the story above, I write because I just so badly want you to know the God that I know and the truth that I know, because I love you and care about your eternal future.
Here is a good article on what it is to become a Christian. It’s not a prayer ritual, but a simple belief. We are saved by Grace through Faith. Nothing more, nothing less. Good day, friends and family. http://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-of-salvation.html
Addendum: As most of you know my surgery was good overall, with some pretty concerning complications( for 10 days), but I sit here today 3 weeks later doing really well. I am getting about 3 to 5 hours of time in between using the bathroom, a far cry from my 30 to 45 minutes before the surgery.(and it will only get better). Somehow, some way (God), my breathing problems seem to be better since surgery and I have barely touched my Advair. Also, I had serious nerve issues in my nose and feet and I can tell you that my nose has barely itched or tingled since surgery and my feet have been really good too. I am still believing total healing there, but what a miracle to be feeling this much better in so many ways just 3 weeks after the surgery. I truly believe my whole body was being affected by my mangled and disturbed intestinal situation. I’m so lucky and blessed to have found someone to fix it. Thanks for reading everyone.