The Yo-Yo Pre-Op Stage

My daughter Narcie wrote recently in her blog “Blessings on the Journey” (www.narciejeter.wordpress.com) about being in the anger stage with her upcoming brain surgery. Denial, bargaining, anger, resignation, and acceptance aren’t descriptive enough to handle the emotional roller coaster of dealing with life’s crud. I have no clue where I am right now, but it’s for sure that I’m pretty tired, no offense, of the well-meaning clichés that abound. I know behind those clichés that you care, are praying, and love us. Please cut me some slack if I give you a wierd look if you say, “God is in control.” My God isn’t a puppet-master. God’s a Savior who sees us through. Nevertheless, I thank you even for the platitudes. You mean well. Sincerely, we thank you, and all the more as the May 10 surgery deadline approaches.

Good God, I just wrote the word “deadline” and it freaks me out. The uncertainty of it all is so scary. Narcie is such a person of faith and strength, but we aren’t pie-in-the-sky sugarcoating types. It’s not that we don’t believe that Jesus can heal her, but, hey, if the amount of faith were the determining factor wouldn’t Lazarus still be walking around? Dead for days and risen – if a tiny mustard seed of faith can make a mountain jump into the sea, surely Lazarus would have enough faith to cure any ailment – right? But, wrong. Lazarus is dead. I have seen plenty of faithful people suffer and die. All the Disciples are dead and gone. Papa Mac and SaSa, Ganny and Gandaddy – they’re dead. I get it even if I often don’t like it – the only way to have eternal life is to die. There’s no Easter without a Good Friday.

The Christian Gospel is no clichéd sham of a utopian existence. The Good News that Jesus brings to me is incarnational in essence, though right now a Christus Victor triumphalism is preferred. So I’ll cling to the Jesus who meets us where we are even when it is in the bewilderment of the walk to Emmaus when all seems lost. The Incarnation proves that Jesus knows all our sorrows and redeems them. As much as I presently deplore the import of Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love Him,” I am comforted by the fact that we do not worship a God who has been insulated from humankind’s desperate plight. Jesus came to earth to be with us, faced temptation just like we do, and stayed faithful to God’s commands when we couldn’t. Since the wages of sin is death and Jesus didn’t sin, the grave couldn’t hold him. Our faith in his victory seals our own triumph over death and the grave. Therefore, all things can work together for good. Maybe that is Christus Victor triumphalism?

But I want it right now. Sure, I know that the Kingdom of God is already and not yet, both come and coming. I don’t want to wait, do you? I want a Jesus riding in on a white horse in Christus Victor style to save the day, especially to save my daughter – now, by God! Yes, I know someday that miracle will occur and its fullest expression of triumph will be through death and resurrection, but I want Narcie to win the lottery now. Heck, I am very certain that the early Christians felt this way. They faced persecution and martyrdom with a certain hope in Christ’s deliverance through their death, in spite of death even.

Gosh, what keeps ringing in my ears is a swing from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4 to the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent.” Paul said (2 Corinthians 4:16ff): “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands… Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In Philippians 1:21 Paul adds the capstone: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Part of me wants to shout, “Malarkey!” Or, perhaps, I want to say that Paul was speaking from a perspective that only comes with age or severe pain. Surely! I have unfortunately seen the heartache of parents who have lost children. I buried an eighteen month old, a nine year old, and two twelve year old children. There are no words that suffice, only one’s presence and that of Christ can help – the hope and certainty of redemption and reunion. Maybe the whole point of today’s blog is to make the most of life, to make the dash (-) between your tombstone’s birth and death dates mean something – to count each second and treasure them. Listen to the words from “Seasons of Love:”

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20 thoughts on “The Yo-Yo Pre-Op Stage

  1. Tim, May the Shalom and Love of God be with you Tim, your wife Cindy, Your daughter Narcie and your whole family during this time. You all are in my prayers…

  2. Keeping it real. That’s why i have always valued our friendship and your spiritual guidance. Walking this path with you in spirit, my friend. Treva

  3. Dear Friend Tim,

    I wish I knew how to pray more powerfully. I’ve traveled your road and can only say that when you hurt all your friends hurt also. I will pray for Narcie and you the best I know how.

    In the love of Christ, Johnny

  4. Prayers continue. Hope, Joy, Peace. Your words are a comfort to me as we continue to strive for acceptance of Susan’s healing in Heaven rather than on Earth. “The only way to have eternal life is to die.” May God be near each of you. Love!

  5. No one can truly know how another feels except the God who lives within us all, and thankfully He is enough – enough Power, enough Courage, enough Hope, enough. Wishing Narcie and each of her family Enough.

  6. No words, no platitudes. Just know that we are here for you. We will continue to pray for God’s presence in your midst.
    No words. No platitudes. Just know that we love you and will be praying for God’s presence in this situation. Thanks for everything!.

    1. Good meeting last night. I’m appreciative of your leadership and look forward to the journey together. Thanks, tim

  7. Thanks for sharing, Tim.

    When I was facing a second surgery for my cancer, I was praying and pleading these same prayers (and likewise getting irritated with well-meaning folks–I kept hearing, “this is the best cancer to have, if you have to have cancer”–to which I always replied–“why do I have to have cancer??”). After some bad test results, praying even harder, it occurred to me (maybe God said?) to read the story of Bartimaeus. I did, and I realized that Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus the question I wanted Him to ask me: “What do you want from me?” I thought for a long time about my answer: ” I want a guarantee–that everything will be ok.” I wanted complete relief from fear and doubt through a divinely executed Writ of A-Okayness that would last, well, for at least 50 years–that the cancer will be gone, that my kids will have their mother, that my life will be of at least average length (I was 28 at the time–not being greedy, of course), that our finances would hold yet another unanticipated health-care related blow, etc., etc.

    In thinking out my answer to this amazing question: “What do you want from me?” I began to realize how absurd my response would be; I laughed out loud. Lawyer that I am, I wanted a written guarantee, with an indemnification clause, and I wanted a down payment of peace of mind. I wanted a perfect life and a perfect death (what I thought I had to look forward to before the cancer and the accompanying miscarriage). I wanted God to give me a guarantee.

    But God rarely makes prospective promises of security and longevity. Instead, God tends to make promises He can fulfill right now– promises of love, grace, comfort– that He is present. What we do have–God with us–is now, alway has been, and always will be enough. “What do you want from me?” The answer can’t be, “More, more.” It can’t be like using your third genie wish to wish for more wishes. Faith (with no small measure of humility) means the answer is, “You already gave it to me, thanks.” Bartimaeus had one thing above all else he wanted– to see. Jesus took care of it immediately–a miracle. But Bartimaeus left that blessed moment, and moved forward into his own uncertain future.

    In reality, I didn’t just want this one instantaneous miracle; I wanted certainty. I wanted to feel like I was in control, which is how I felt before I heard, “There is no heartbeat,” and a few days later, “It’s cancer.” I wanted to go back in time. I wanted something that doesn’t exist. This present moment, this is my life, this is my body–this is me. These things are a part of me now. And, as always, God is with me.

    Be bold in this–you guys are equipped for whatever comes next. Yes, it may be something less than a miracle. But I believe that God will give you all that He has to give; not a guarantee, not some meaningless platitude, but His real, tangible presence. The good stuff, that will sustain you. It is enough. It is enough.

    I will pray for Narcie.

    Grace and Peace to you and your family.
    In Christ, Alison (Dennis) Hood
    (Jim Dennis’ daughter and Michael Hood’s wife)

    1. Alison, Wow! Thank you for such a spot-on perspective. I will reread and reread, tim

      Sent from my iPad

      On Apr 16, 2013, at 3:54 PM, “A Potter’s View”

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