We as a family recently had our matriarch (my Mom) transition to hospice after a hospital stay. This hospital stay was not her first but appears to now be her last. Due to HIPAA and the fact she still has enough strength to give me her famous backhand I won’t list all of the ailments that she has battled against in her life…suffice to say there’s been a bunch. Whether we want to admit it or not we are ALL in a constant state of breaking down and falling apart…if we believe Scripture for what it says about no control over the length of our stay here on earth then what should our outlook and attitude be when it comes to our state (maintenance) of health, view towards modern medicine, and not losing a spiritual “big-picture”…?
[Mid-blog rant – before I deal with those questions I do genuinely have to state that if we, as believers, have a properly calibrated understanding of what’s next (Heaven) then for ME the biggest challenge is actually having to stay here. I am not advocating for anything foolish with trying to usurp God and His plans (which as I explain below is completely pointless). Just trying to confess that it completely weirds me out to hear Christians that talk in such a way that shows that they are clinging…white-knuckled to this existence…ugh. You don’t have to… end of rant]
Taking care of our ‘Gloves’
I heard long ago, and adopted it because I thought it made sense and aligned with Scripture, that what we see and interact with (physical bodies) are our ‘gloves’ – what makes us us are our ‘hands’ (souls). So, when I’ve attended a memorial service for a family member or friend I always have the thought go through my head…that’s their ‘glove’, not their ‘hand’. My prayer of course is that their ‘hand’ is with The Lord. But, what do we do with our ‘gloves’ now? Scripture describes them as a temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and because of this there absolutely is at a minimum an implicit requirement for us to take care of them. And by taking care I mean not taking unnecessary risks or abusing them…especially when there are so many that would love to have the ‘glove’ that you’ve been blessed with in comparison to the one they have. AND, taking care of them can also be a slippery slope if the process turns into an idol…there are many people who allow maintenance of their ‘glove’ to become THE priority in their life – there must be balance…we should use the common sense God blesses us with to look after these temporary shelters while we have them (2 Cor. 5:1).
No Doc, you are not God
There is likely a spectrum out there where medical professionals either fall on the end that believes that they actually have control over the quantity of the time their patients have OR they believe that the best they can do in their efforts is to affect the quality of their physical experience…however long that might be. The Bible is clear on this – God, not the medical profession, determines the time (quantity) we have (Psalm 139:16). He absolutely works through doctors, nurses, and others to impact the quality of the time we do get here. Let me be super clear here in my love and gratitude for these very special souls – literally DOZENS (doctors, nurses, aides) that have shown care and compassion for Mom. I also appreciate and empathize with the questions so many have about why the quality of time for themselves or their loved ones doesn’t appear to be better than it is (?). For the believer, our comfort is found in Scripture that reminds us that whatever tribulation we suffer through it must have gone through God and He will use it to bring glory to Himself (Rom. 8:28). To an unbeliever that last statement makes zero sense.
The long view…
As I’ve mentioned before in previous blogging, I was very blessed early in my career to work with several humanitarian organizations…organized groups of people that were committed to meeting the physical needs of the most impoverished men, women and children on the planet. Again, like the medical profession, that is a very special thing to do…but – to what end? If we only ever focus on the physical life then we are going to see giant numbers of well educated, nourished, healthy (physically) and inoculated people stepping off into hell. “And?”…you’re asking. Am I seriously saying that there isn’t a value in being a first responder, highway safety professional, doctor/nurse, volunteer…nope, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that we (the Church) better not be confusing those acts of kindness and compassion with an actual presentation of The Gospel. They are not an adequate substitue.
Every follower/disciple of Jesus Christ has a responsibility to maintain the big-picture perspective that we live because of Him and His call on us to carry the message of The Gospel and proclaim it.
Repent and believe. (Mark 1:15) Complicated, I know.
How dare I tell someone that they need to acknowledge the sin in their life and turn from it. (Psalm 32:5)
How dare I simplify a connection to the Creator of the universe by proclaiming that I put my trust and faith soley in what He has done for me through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son. (Eph. 2:8)
From her bed day before yesterday I had a front row seat to watching my Mom dare to carry through with this proclamation to people that she loves.
If we truly understand GOD’s great love for us…how dare we not do the same.
GBU – 1Tim. 1:15