Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Medicine

I spent a few days last week in the hospital as a result of an infection. Thankfully, I’m much better and am improving daily. There is nothing like a sudden illness to remind you how fragile we are as humans. I was reminded how much I am dependent on God for my daily bread and for my health. While in the hospital, I received a wealth statement, and it turns out I’m a pretty wealthy guy. I am referring to the fact that I have a wonderful family, which is my greatest asset on this earth.

The best medicine I got while in the hospital was when two of my little granddaughters came to visit me. Oh, they said their mommy could come too if she wanted. It was their first time to see a hospital, and they had so many questions about countless things. They asked me where my clothes were, and I said, “at home.” One of them asked me, “Grandpa, what are you wearing?” Though it was difficult to admit, I said a gown (These hospital gowns are not really gowns.). I saw a look of incredulity on both of their little faces, and one said, “No, it’s not.” After they left, I thought about their response to the gown—theirs had really been a response of true integrity, and I took new courage.

Just think about it. You walk into the emergency room, and this nice lady says to you, “Put this gown on.” They know it’s not a gown, and you know it’s not a gown, but you say, “Ok, thank you.” Thank you for this thing? All the while pretending this is a gown. 

Think about this gown for a minute. From the front, this thing looks like something my Aunt Matilda gave me from her 1927 collection, but from the back it looks X-rated. The good doctor, God bless him, says, “Get up and walk around and get some exercise!” So, wearing the thing and connected to a mechanical robot that makes weird noises day and night, I get up. I take a peek at the hallway which looks like a multiple NASCAR wreck with food carts and nurses’ carts, so I decide to walk in the room. Three steps to the door and three steps back to the bed..."and back and forth and man, I am feeling kind of winded". I decide to read awhile, so I put my glasses in my pocket and get in bed and get situated, which is no easy task with the “thing” on. This “thing” is not made to get into a bed. First, it’s there, and then it’s not there. Then it’s choking you. I finally settle down with my Kindle in hand, and I reach for my glasses, and this “thing” has a hole in the pocket.

Well, as you can see, I’m having a little fun with the hospital experience. Truly, the best medicine is God’s healing grace and my loving family. God has placed both in my life, and for that I am grateful.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Go Down, Jesus

Few emotions are as hard to deal with as disappointment, and the greater the anticipation of something, the greater the letdown when it doesn’t happen. Moses experienced disappointment on many occasions. He was disappointed with himself when his attempt to rescue the Children of Israel failed. Later, he blamed himself for their predicament actually getting worse instead of better. However, his greatest disappointment, no doubt, happened with the moral failure of his people.

Moses had been on the mountain forty days in the presence of God when he experienced this incredible disappointment. He was elated to have met with God where he received the plans for the tabernacle and the two tablets of law written in God’s own hand. However, as Moses prepared to return, he never could have imagined what awaited him. His unbelievable joy turned to devastating disappointment as he came to understand what had transpired in his absence.

Moses found out what had happened while he was still on the mountain because God told him. At the same time Moses had been receiving the plans for the tabernacle, the Israelites had instigated their own ideas of worship. They, with Aaron’s help, had decided that it was better to worship a cow than the Almighty Living God who had delivered them. The Lord said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:7-8).

Moses did go down to the people, and he also interceded for them so they would not face the wrath of God for their sinful choices. Moses’ prayer for his people is one of the greatest prayers in the Bible: 

Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God.  "O Lord," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” (Exodus 32:11-13)

Because of Moses’ intercession, God spared the Israelites from his impending judgment that they well deserved. However, one cannot read this story without remembering another occasion when God said to his own son, “Go down, Jesus!” and he did. Thank God he did. Jesus came down to earth and took upon himself the form of a man and was willing to die on the cross for our sin. Though disappointed in his people Israel, God sent Moses, their mediator, to intercede for them, and though saddened by our sinful departure from his commandments, God has sent us another mediator, Jesus Christ.

There are so many parallels between us and the children of Israel. We, like them, have turned from God’s way and followed our sinful hearts. We, too, have turned to our idolatrous gods, but Jesus has come down to us. He came to save us. The Apostle John gives us one of Jesus’ intercessory prayers: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him” (John 17:2).