Mick’s Memo – Did You Sign Up for This?

I have only had 4 hospital inpatient experiences, and only one of them involving real surgery, so I count myself very blessed.  However, my recent stay from Saturday early AM until Tuesday PM was a “learning experience” for me.  There are factors that combine to disorient—pain, fever brain, medications, isolation (compared to normal routine), new faces, new routines and new surroundings. Plans that have been on the books for months (sermon plans and preps) go out the window, along with counseling appointments, and home upkeep routines. 

Questions go through your brain: “Why?” “What am I supposed to learn?” “Did I sign up for this, just by going through with some preventive procedures?” “When will this pain subside?”

I believe in an all-knowing, all-loving and completely Sovereign God.  None of this was unanticipated by Him.  It was not random.  As a pastor I try to help others put these puzzles together.

Then I reflected on what was happening around me. 

A wiry lady probably a decade beyond me was in my room within two hours of my being assigned to it.  It had been cleaned before I arrived, but it was thoroughly cleaned again.  The next morning, there she was again.  We talked a bit, and I found out she lives near here on Rt. 31.  She works every other weekend and chuckled that she hadn’t been to church in a long time because of that.  I assured her that if she came twice monthly she would more than pass the attendance test and that we have a group called Prime Timers that she would relate to very well. 

A male LPN told me a bit of his story.  He had endured a hundred abdominal procedures in his life.  He was born with no stomach because his father was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.  His first procedure took place when he was less than 6 months old—two surgeries to create a stomach.  He eventually developed Crohn’s Disease and had surgeries related to that.  He was not bitter. He was matter of fact about it and working 2 jobs. 

An RN, grandmother of 2 granddaughters, described the challenge of working full time and finishing a bachelor’s degree in nursing 3 courses at a time.  She is a follower of Jesus but not attending church much living in far southern Madison County. 

I may be a slow learner, but I did eventually see the irony for me to be served by people with far harder paths than mine.  They have every right to the same questions I have and more; but they didn’t complain and served compassionately.  I have watched and been with many of you suffering far more than this.  Rick Warren’s quote came to me… “It’s not about you.”

It also brings to mind the first prayer I was taught as a child…

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

If God is truly Sovereign I don’t really “sign up for” aspects of life and “refuse to sign” for others.  Jesus demonstrated the human response to Sovereignty in suffering.  He asked God to “take this cup (the crucifixion and death) from me” but immediately added, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

Whether or not we sign up for it, God gives us life—an opportunity to know Him by grace and an opportunity to serve Him and His people.  There will be unpleasant and unexpected (to us) events along the way, but they are designed not just for us, rather for what He can accomplish through us. As Jesus’ followers He calls us not to “sign up”, but to seek His will and “submit”.  The purpose is to “hallow” or bring glory to His Name.

Special thanks to Steve Case for covering a memorial service on short notice and for Mike preaching.  As I continue recovery, Eric Young will teach in our series from Acts this week, but I plan to be around.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday,

Mick

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