I’m finally back well enough and having caught up on everything that was laid aside, to once again have the time and energy to write. What I have been reminded of over the past couple of weeks is just how fragile life is, even when it doesn’t appear to be.
My wife and I had spent the afternoon traveling to a nearby town to find a Christmas tree. In our neck of the woods, it is most popular and common to go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down a Fraser Fir for the holidays. As we walked among the trees looking for just the right one, there was nothing that indicated I would be sicker than a dog in less than 12 hours. I felt normal and fine. But only a few hours later, I just didn’t feel right. I took my temperature and it was 99.2, not much of a fever for most people, but for me it is a lot.
The next morning, the fever was over 100 and my head began aching to the point only the softest pillow in the house was at all comfortable on which to lay my head. By the next day, the fever and headache were gone, and I felt this would be an easy recovery and, by all early indications, it was, with much congestion flowing out of the appropriate places. But it was not, by a long shot.
The severe sinus infection, the very dry winter air, and the fact I am on blood thinners created another problem. My wife and I were sitting on the couch one evening when I felt a tickle under my nose. I went to scratch it and it was wet—with blood. My nose began to bleed profusely. I had felt fine and well onto recovery until that moment. A few days later, it happened again in a restaurant. I was enjoying my delicious hamburger at a Red Robin when, again, I felt a tickle. My nose was bleeding, this time much worse than previously. It took 45 minutes and a trip to CVS to finally get it to stop. It had been five days since and I thought perhaps I was in the clear. I was wrong. So far this morning, I have had two bleeds, but I managed to get both quickly stopped.
Last week, while at home and feeling pretty good, suddenly I didn’t feel so good. My intestinal tract seemed to be gearing up for battle. I had had gastronomical issues occasionally and thought it would surely pass (excuse the pun!) soon enough. But it didn’t, and within an hour, there was a full-fledged war taking place. I thought it was likely an appendicitis and I asked my wife to drive me to the ER. The discomfort grew worse with every mile. By the time I was in the waiting room, I could do nothing but pace and moan. I am sure I drove the rest of the sick people there half-crazy. After what seemed hours (literally a half-hour), I was finally called back and everyone I saw said the same thing—it appeared to be a kidney stone. They gave me a pain shot which finally gave me relief and did a scan to confirm the stone. As the shot took effect, I felt like a new man!
How quickly life can change and none of us is immune to it; we are all fragile beings. Since I last wrote, the father of one of my former students passed away unexpectedly while being prepped for surgery. He was ill, but no one anticipated his sudden death. A few months ago, the mother of another former student was at work and suddenly collapsed and died within hours.
And our fragility is not limited to the physical. We are also vulnerable emotionally and spiritually. Marriages and other relationships can be going along smoothly when suddenly (or gradually) things begin to go in the other direction. What once was a loving relationship becomes increasingly hostile and bitter. And spiritually we can be going along smooth and steady in our walk with the Lord when suddenly He disciplines us (Hebrews 12:7-11) through trying times. What was once easy suddenly becomes immensely challenging.
What these challenges, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, remind us of is our own fragility and weakness. As much as we are tempted to think we are in control of our lives, the truth is we are not. Our fragility is a reminder of our absolute need for God. As the Lord reminds us, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
And oh, how we need those reminders. Like children and teens, our bent is to want to do things on our own, to think we know best. Our immaturity shows in our lack of humility before the Lord. When things are going well for us, we tend to take our dependence on him more casually. We begin to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. (Romans 12:3) And then God gently (or not so gently sometimes) reminds us of how fragile we are, not as punishment but a needed corrective of our prideful attitudes.
We are the creatures, not the Creator. All that we have and all that we are or will be is totally dependent on him. It is always unwise to think any differently. The quicker we recognize our absolute need for him, the better. Humility before God is always the best approach to living this life.
© Jim Musser 2018