I remember the annual essay that came each year in September.
I remember stories of neighborhood baseball when we’d play until we lost the ball. I remember the time my dad surprised me with a box of brand new, bright white balls with their red stitches and blue “Official league” stamp. Can you believe I can still smell them and hear the wrinkling of the dry white tissue paper that wrapped each ball? There were stories of bike riding, swimming, and playing war rolling in big refrigerator boxes we made into unstoppable tanks.
Life changes. We change.
This summer has been my liver-lover summer. Everything has been about livers and lovers. First, my liver stepped to the forefront and waved a red flag of warning. Then, in the middle of staggering medical bills, some bare cupboards and uncertainty for mortgage payments, came the lovers. They just love because they are agents of a Love that is incomprehensible. They’ve loved with goodie bags, stocked freezers and money. They’ve loved with gifts that have given us opporttunies to forget, just for a time, that livers exist. We’ve sat at Fenway park, relaxed at Seadogs games and sang songs on the side of a mountain at The Soulfest music festival.
The lovers. They simply love because Jesus has saturated their lives. Like dripping sponges, they have brought me drinks at the driest of times. The Lovers.
I am in the hospital again. It has only been 8 days between visits. Tubes and needles go in and out. Pain medicines have brought relief and the medical puzzles remain. Dr. House is not in the house!
The worst part of my stay? It was when I overheard my 80 year old roommate tell someone he is a devout atheist and that leaving the church 12 years ago was the smartest thing he has ever done. He told the woman visiting that science is dependable and reliable and amazing. She asked about community. He got quiet for a second and said, “It is a very lonely life … I am very lonely.”
He has no interest in talking with me. My cover was blown my first day here when someone introduced me as a pastor. He’s angry at me and angry at something he calls “the church.”
My heart breaks. He doesn’t know the Lover of our Souls and the army of lovers who
follow. I pray for this kind old man. I am sorry someone wounded him so deeply while wearing a Jesus badge on their chest.
Today, I will be knocked unconscious and the staff here will have a peek inside me. They’ll look at my esophagus and the inner lining of my stomach. They’ll ride the magic school bus and explore my inner workings. That doesn’t really have me worked up at all. I hope they find the nasty critters giving me pain and shoot them all.
But beyond that …. I pray for my roommate. If only he could see my Jesus beyond an institution, if only He would come to know the Lover of our Souls. If only He knew the army of lovers.
Sure, pray for me today for tests and anesthesia and pain levels. But more than anything, could you pray for my roommate, Charles”? He’s just so lonely.
Thank you, army of lovers.
1 John 4:21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother