It’s been an interesting saga over the past year and a half. Cindy’s mother came to be near us for rehab after what was purportedly a broken back from osteoporosis. Cindy saw to her needs every day, then after her fifth hospitalization they finally suspected something more sinister. They said they would let us know on Monday from the bone biopsy. On Sunday she died: acute myleoblastic leukemia. It would have been good for that to have been known sooner. Then 7 months after that our 30 year old daughter, Narcie, mother of two little ones with a great husband, Elder in our annual conference, and Wesley Foundation Director found out she had an oligodendroglioma with a very scary prognosis that remains a source of prolonged fear and faith mixed together. Just yesterday she was asking me about the conference’s life insurance because now she can’t get any. All you clergy out there, especially young ones who think you’re going to live forever – get some ASAP. Then last August my oldest brother died suddenly of a heart attack on his birthday no less. Then two days ago Cindy had two operations in the same day, two different doctors, and here we go again. Things are going to be okay, but it’s no picnic. Thank God for Josh, the other UM minister in the family. He married well! Karen is a nurse, expecting their first child in March and she’s been a God-send helping regulate the meds, and a whole lot of etceteras.
There’s nothing seemingly in common with these situations. The people have been unique, the treatments, the outcomes, but there has been one Common Denominator: Jesus. Everybody goes through the crud of life, and nobody or family has a corner on whose story is worse. We’re all different, but God’s immutable attribute of love is constant. God NEVER causes the problems, but remains ever steadfast on our side. I am grateful. Whatever your unique situation or problem remember the adage: “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.” God relishes our uniqueness and intertwines incarnationally our individual stories with His desire to save the whole cosmos.
Studies of human DNA suggest that we have common origins. Some say we all came from an “Eve” source in Africa that migrated some 10,000 fold into Europe’s hinterlands and intermarried with other hominid life forms. Others say that we have a common ancestor of unknown origin but share Neanderthal attributes. Either way, the similarity in our DNA doesn’t diminish our individual uniqueness.
God loves diversity. Look at the myriad colors of birds, the duck-billed platypus, and the multitude of human personality and biological differences for evidence. An old Russian proverb says it well, “If I try to be like someone else, who will be like me?” We need to treasure our uniqueness, even those aspects of uniqueness that don’t always fit in. I saw this illustrated in a cartoon that showed the foreman of a jury at the door of the jury room giving the lunch order to the bailiff. You know the jury is in for a long time when you hear the order: “Eleven cheeseburgers and one hot dog. Eleven coffees and one hot chocolate. Eleven fruit pies and one bagel.” As much as we share in common, we all have different tastes.
A waitress was taking orders from a couple and their young son. She was one of the class of veteran waitresses who never show outright disrespect to their customers, but who frequently make it quite evident by their level stare that they fear no mortal, not even parents. She jotted on her order pad deliberately and silently as the father and mother gave their selections, down to what was to be substituted for what and which dressing changed to what sauce. When she finally turned to the boy, he began his order with a kind of fearful desperation.
“I want a hot dog…” he started to say. And both parents barked at once. “No hot dog!” Then the mother continued, “Bring him the Lyonnais potatoes and the beef, both vegetables, and a hard roll and…” The waitress wasn’t even listening to the mother. She said directly to the youngster, “What do you want on your hot dog?” He flashed an amazed smile. “Ketchup, lots of ketchup, and – and bring a glass of milk.”
“Coming up,” she said as she turned from the table, leaving behind her the stunned silence of utter parental dismay. The boy watched her go before he turned to his father and mother with astonished elation to say, “You know what? She thinks I’m real! She thinks I’m real!”
God feels the same way about each of us. None of us are overlooked or ignored. Each one of us is that special and unique to God. What a comfort to know that we are real to God! That belief is a big part of what has kept us going these long months.