I want to start off by saying thank you to all who’ve reached out to me to show their care and concern following the surgery. Your love has been an uplifting thing, and I truly appreciate it.
This morning’s attempt at some sort of message to you is really my first time back at the keyboard since the surgery. I just haven’t had the energy for much. I still kind of don’t. I know others have far more difficult roads to travel than the one I’m currently on. Still, I won’t lie. It’s been a rough week. For one, I think I can officially say I miss sleeping far more than walking.
My plan was to forego the prescribed pain medications for as long as I could, but as it would go, I ended up taking them, anyway. Once I did, the pain lessened, but the typical difficulties I experience with the medications began. After a little more than a day of nausea, headaches, and sweating, I decidedly went cold turkey (except for Tylenol), having realized that all the discomforts brought on by the surgery were far preferable.
Of course, as some of you know, things got even more complicated this past week. Less than twenty-four hours after surgery, a terrible storm blew through and we lost power, which didn’t get repaired until Friday morning. Thankfully, we invested in a generator a few years ago. When the storm was at its worst and the lights were flickering, Madeline was over at her grandma’s house and Jennifer was running some necessary errands. Harrison and Evelyn were here with me. I probably shouldn’t have, but when the power finally did go out, I managed to hobble from my upstairs bedroom to the basement to help get the generator up and running. Harrison and Evelyn did the heavy lifting to get it outside and gassed up. Josh drove from his apartment in Argentine (through a warzone of fallen trees, as he described it) to take and fill our other gas cans. I directed traffic on breaker boxes, switches, and hookups. Once everything was in place, Evelyn covered my leg with a towel while I crutched outside in the rain to pull the startup. Not long after that, Jen made it home, and like a champ, took everything from there. I could see she’d already switched into “prepper” mode as she went right into doing things like putting flashlights in each of the bedrooms, giving directions on what things could or could not be operated while the generator was engaged, and making a point to go outside every twelve hours or so to shut the generator down to let it cool before refilling it with gas. Of course, while doing all of this, she was also making sure I had everything I needed.
I am, indeed, a blessed man with a wonderful family. And so, here we are together a few days beyond all the excitement and well on our way to greeting whatever new and exciting things may be coming over the horizon.
I won’t keep you long this morning. Again, I don’t have much energy for sharing at the moment. I guess I’ll say that for me personally, the last few days have been nothing short of constant conversation with God. Prayer, that is. I’ve been sending along a steady stream of anything and everything to His listening ears. I’m praying while eating. I’m praying in the shower. I’m praying at two o’clock in the morning. Sometimes it’s little more than unintelligible mutterings as my calf muscle cramps and pulls on the newly sewn tendon. In those moments I’m just begging for relief because the Tylenol does very little to help. In between, I’m telling Him random things that come to mind; things that pertain to my family, things that meet with many of you as individuals, things relative to the entire church family at Our Savior and beyond. Other times, my words to Him are self-analyzing. They’re honest communications telling Him what I really think about things; about myself, about what’s happening right now, about what’s going on in our world, about the things I do or don’t do that I want to change for the better.
Thankfully, God is so graciously willing to hear all these things, especially when it comes to the darker moments of genuine contrition or concern. I assure you that devout prayer does turn in such directions sometimes, so be ready.
Of course, and technically, God knows every little detail behind every possible thing we could share before we utter the first word. And yet, how incredibly comforting it is to know that He still craves for His children to spill it all, that He wants to hear our voices in His divine ears, that He wants us to know that He is listening and won’t turn us away. He loves us.
You should know that this love is what fuels His very core, and its most vivid display can be seen in the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17).
We’d expect the world to disparage the crucifixion of Jesus, and so it does. It’s strange, then, that here at 3:50 AM I’d stumble across a few Christian friends on social media expressing in passing their general discomfort with crosses and crucifixes. While I don’t know the math behind Facebook’s algorithms, I’m guessing there’s a chance these friends might read this. Still, I’m pretty sleep-deprived and in pain, so, whatever.
Firstly, and for the record, I prefer crucifixes over crosses. The corpus—the body of the Lord on the cross—matters to me. Secondly, what are you, vampires?! Why would a Christian be offended by the symbol of the Lord’s work to save us? How is it at all possible to be offended by the depiction—the visible communication, the visual transmission, the observable delivery—of the very act that rescued the world from Sin, Death, and the power of the devil?
No wonder Christianity is slipping away in America.
Although, what should I expect? So many of our mainstream churches are believing and teaching some ridiculous things these days. It should be no surprise to me, then, that there’s a pretty popular megachurch in Brighton, Michigan teaching that both crosses and crucifixes are offensive to visitors, and as a result, they refuse to display them anywhere in their facility. Think about that for a second.
Saint Paul dealt with this kind of idiocy in various places in his ministry, one of which he addresses in the very first chapter of 1 Corinthians (vv. 18-31). By the way, this was a letter written to a church filled with Christians who thought they knew better than the rest of Christendom. In many circumstances, they thought they knew better than Saint Paul, himself! So, from there, I think I’ll just say that any Christian or church offended by a crucifix needs to rethink things—a lot. I honestly don’t know how anyone can look at a crucifix and, in any way, disregard the all-important Gospel message it is silently proclaiming—which is that God was indeed ready and willing to meet us in our filth, that He wanted to be the absolute miracle of relief we needed in our most dreadful of hours. And how did He bring forth and accomplish this aid? By His Son’s death on the cross.
As this meets with prayer—since that’s what I was originally talking about—I don’t know how anyone can look at a crucifix and say honestly that God does not care enough to hear our cries no matter the hour or the need.
To close, there’s something else to consider when approaching prayer from this gritty perspective. I’d urge you to keep in mind the nature of the things you’re sharing with God and then ask yourself, “Would I be willing to publish on social media what I’m sharing with God right now?” If the answer is a red-faced “no,” then you’ve taken one step closer to the deeper teaching value of a crucifix: to the visceral nature behind something unseen becoming seen. I suppose in one sense you can know that seen or unseen, you have a “seen-it-all” God who loves and receives you as others couldn’t and wouldn’t. But then in tandem, you can be mindful that your God didn’t rescue you from your darkest, most secretive, sins by some private act. His death was a humiliating public spectacle—a sanctioned execution. He was tortured and propped up for all. His death for all sins for all time was meant to be seen. And I dare say, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. I’m guessing that while God is okay with your shame remaining hidden from the masses, He thinks it’s better for His to be out there in the open.
I’ll just leave you with that.