Well, as I told you on Wednesday, I started my first week of school this week. And it was beautiful and exciting, and tiring and long. And it stirred up a lot of thoughts. So many thoughts that this post may turn into a completely unorganized corkboard of words. And I’m ok with that. Because sometimes words are really feelings, and sometimes feelings just can’t be organized.
This week’s school week was only 3 days long as opposed to the normal 5 day work week. And that was definitely a good thing. I came home Wednesday exhilarated. I came home Thursday tired. I came home Friday exhausted. On Friday, I waited until it began to get dark, actually I waited for it to just get hazy with gray, and then I was in bed, sleeping. It was 5:30PM. I slept until 9:30AM. 16 hours. I woke up Saturday with 16 hours of sleep under my belt. And I felt good. But part of me felt uneasy. It wasn’t worry, it wasn’t panic. It was just an uneasiness. And then the thoughts began.
“this is only the first week.”
“you haven’t slept that much in months.”
“Is something starting again?”
“Did I make a mistake in going back to school?”
“is this sickness coming back?”
And on and on it went, until I decided it wasn’t going to keep on. So in efforts of changing my mind, I started watching videos posted by that Blue Like Jazz author. The one I think I like and then some day’s decide I don’t agree with. His words are controversial, but his heart is genuine. And the videos he posted agreed with his heart. I began watching. One was about some nifty architecture, one guy had a knack for playing the 1812 overture with his teeth. But then some were much more striking then that. Like the man with Lou Gerhig’s disease who took the opportunity of sickness as a means to bring joy to others. Or the kids from Children’s Hospital who were quoting Jim Valvano’s ESPYS speech, on the power of laughter, thinking, and crying. Or that girl. That one girl with a body full of cancer, and a heart full of Jesus. That one girl that leaves you with a head shaking and a lot of awe.
They weren’t just videos. They were words. Words that struck and empowered. Words that gave hope and joy and laughter. Words that needed to be shared. With the world, with you, with me. Words that took my statements from earlier, and threw them to the birds.
“if I can’t impact people, then this whole thing is a waste.” –Chris Rosati, dying of Lou Gerhig’s Disease.
“Cancer can take away all my physical abilities, it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul” –Jim Valvano
I watch these videos and I think so much about pain and suffering, about sickness especially. Suffering is many things. It is hard and difficult. It is often unfair. It is full of tears and pain. It is isolating. It is suffocating. But that is just one side of the coin. Because suffering is bigger than that. It is beautiful. It is a joy maker. It is an eye opener. It is a strength builder, a welcoming mat for hearts. It is a gift. And if you are in the thick of it, then you won’t know it now, but I urge you to keep on keeping on with Christ at your side because when you walk through that fire and into clear skies all you will be able to say is wow.
You will say wow because you will see how much different things really are. Fires can destroy. And they can destroy a lot. But they don’t ruin, they restore. How often are farmers burning the fields to bring life making minerals back into the soil, so that life making produce can be grown again? Yep, these fires we live, these fires we are in, they are life making, even if they take our lives. Because they strip away, and let us see what matters. They give us opportunity to have a resume to suffering unlike most people, and with that we get opportunities to minister, unlike most people. Through the fires, we can see truth, because the fire strips away all that superficial brush, and lets us see what really is growing in these fields of ours. Lets us see what really matters. And most people, with all their houses full of empty cares and fancy things, well they don’t see what really matters. They just can’t see past the shine of their silver. That is until chaos strikes them. And when that happens you’ll be there, or I will be. Because we got the gift of suffering before, rather than now. and now we know how to help. How to open hearts. How to share Jesus. How to not let it be a waste.
Yep, these fires we live, these fires we are in, they are life making.