DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder
Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent. While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things. Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina. They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings. For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS. This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking. It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own. I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including. You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen
“We both pray for healing. With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.
“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us. Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside. When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”
“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve? When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe? Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”
“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?
“Whom do I love more?
“God’s healing can be sneaky. We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life. We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside. We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.
“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body? Not at all. But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit. The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB). How unexpected is that?
“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation. She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.
“And he has made me question whom it is I love.
“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth? Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me? I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals? I love her and I want her well.” But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.
“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife? So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.
“I care for Elizabeth. She’s his lamb. Doesn’t that show I love him?
“But what is he really asking? He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away. Now my answer’s not nearly as glib. Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want? They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.
“The exposure shames me. Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007
PRAYER: Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them. These questions gnaw at my inner being. I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.” Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does. In Jesus’ name, Amen.