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Human Strength and Frailty April 17, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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We are so strong. We can endure some amazing things. Listen to older people tell stories of endurance, and I don’t mean the ones where they say they walked uphill 26 miles to school and uphill 26 miles back again. I mean the ones about the heroes who lived through wars and tortures and starvation and poverty and mans inhumanity to his fellow man. I mean the ones where the person worked from sun-up to sun-down and then came home and took care of family and home because no one else cared. There are stories about people saving others from fire, from water, from war, surviving icy exposure, desert heat, bullet holes and concentration camps.

And we are so frail. A little tiny bacteria or virus can kill you, without the correct antibodies or antibiotics or antivirals. A little tiny appendix can kill you without the correct surgery. Your heart may just up and quit one day, or even explode under the pressure of life. Your teeth. A little food particle gets caught in there too long, and you’ve got decay. Your lungs. A little cancer cell starts to multiply in the fertile, smoky environment, and you’re dead. Your liver. A little alcohol, and a little more, and pretty soon that thing is riddled with holes and all you want is a little more and a little more. A little ulcer on the stomach, a little tiny kidney stone, a little corn or heel spur or cold sore or… You get the picture. We’re good, but tiny tiny things will mess us up.

Steel shows similar traits. It’s strong, and if it’s made correctly, can cut through anything. Ginsu, or Sheffield Steel, or Chicago Cutlery, anyone? But let a little water sit on that long enough and it’ll rust. From water. Something as soft and gentle and necessary as water can destroy something so strong and dull something so sharp. Something so small, causes such great destruction.

One of my friends is a preacher, and he’s a dynamo. He’s just good. He can share a message from the Lord, and deliver the fire until your hat’s on fire with blessings, or your tails on fire from knowing what you did. We have the same kind of heart, in fact we’ve talked on several occasions and seen, that although we don’t spend time together, the same spiritual thread is weaving through both of our spirits. We may see one another once a week or two at work in our secular jobs. But something is wrong. Doctors are working on him, trying to figure out how to control epilepsy.

In the New Testament, if it were written in the modern era, they would have called certain demonic fits “epilepsy.” And they would call certain skin and nerve diseases “leprosy,” and others by their medical names In the Old Testament you can read about stuff like this and how the root cause was probably not so much an outer manifestation of the body or the skin, but an outer manifestation of some hidden sin.

I don’t think there’s sin in that man’s life. And yet I know there is because all have sinned. Still, we have medicine, a gift from God, with modern technology, another gift from God, to help us understand where these medical conditions come from and how to treat them. We’ve come leaps and bounds in treating things like AIDS and Parkinson’s and Epilepsy and Influenza and tooth decay. If there’s a bigger sinner, it’s me. All I can do though is pray for him, so the doctors figure out the small thing that’s causing the bigger symptoms to happen, and a way to control that. I love that guy like he was my own brother, and I don’t have any brothers in real life. I think he’s awesome as a husband and father, and as a friend and preacher too. And I think, that like the man who was born blind, the weakness is in him to show off how strong God is.

We are so strong, we have these endurances, and yet, we are so weak. Jesus had the cures back in the day, and he also knew the hearts. I wish we knew what He did, and how He did it. But sadly, most faith healers are either fakers, or flashes in the pan. All we can do is pray for each other. When my friend had a seizure at work, it was pretty scary. He was standing, reeling, lurching, trying to walk around but his body and his mind were failing to work right. All I could do was pray for him to be set free.

And then the most awesome thing happened. Before the seizure released him, his team all stood around him, closely, surrounding him, preventing him from falling and injuring himself. They put themselves at risk because he could have lashed out and hurt one of them. But they protected him from himself until the paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital. And then their gentle, human shield of protective restraint was replaced by straps and a gurney and medical professionals. That is probably the most beautiful and profound demonstration of “community” I have ever seen.

I need friends to surround me, to help me, and to protect me from the little things I can’t see, and can’t fix myself, that are making life spin so out-of-control. And so do we all. I hope we all have a group of that kind of friends, and also friends who will pray for the little things to let go so we can fix whatever’s broken and move on.

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