Monday, April 30, 2012

Renewal and Return

Thanks to Josh Petrillo (4/29)
My mother-in-law is sitting in her wheelchair. A Snuggie is draped over her lap, in spite of the fact that it's sixty-five degrees. She looks old. For the first time since I have known her, she's let the gray show in her hair. Correction: We have let the gray show.

She cannot dye her hair these days. Standing poses a challenge. Her speech and motor skills have been handicapped by a stroke. Thirteen years later, we require medical equipment for Sunday afternoon strolls.

Immediately following her stroke, Marcy benefited from regular therapy. Conversation was stunted, but she could communicate. She could write letters and draw flowers. Writing has withered; flowers have faded. We are left with memories, prayers, consolatory casseroles, and a wheelchair. We stand behind it now. Correction: We stand behind her.

Occasionally, we see a glimpse of Marcy. She resurfaces in her bright eyes, in her big smile, in her percussive confessions of love. She reminds us that we are more than bodies; we are souls awaiting glory. She reminds us that we are more than lonely victims; we are family awaiting reunion. She reminds us that we are more than broken; we are image-bearers awaiting redemption.

Marcy reminds us of the gospel Jesus preached to the weak and poor and oppressed. The gospel was Jesus' announcement of a new (i.e., redeemed) world, birthed from His death, resurrection, and return (1 Cor. 15). Death and resurrection are completed works. These acts of Jesus inspire our forbearance, but they do not alleviate our pain. A slap to the face still hurts. A stab in the back leaves an emotional scar. A stroke cripples a woman. Lost words. Gray hairs. Wheelchairs.

Until He returns, our suffering is prolonged. Correction: Redemption is prolonged.

As sufficient as His grace is in our weaknesses, I pray for His return. For Marcy's sake. For mine. For all of creation that groans (Rom. 8:22).

"We will be changed, in the twinkling of an eye..." (1 Cor. 15:52).

"But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

John's Shoes and Family Move

John showed me a picture of his new running shoes on his phone. He ordered a pair of Brooks PureFlows. He runs swift and light. He also showed me pictures of his new home in Atlanta. His family is relocating for his job as a recruiter. He talks swift and light.
We had just finished lunch. Our wives continued to dialogue around the table; our children played upstairs. John and I talked shop: shoes and church and new opportunities.  Having just finished a book called Imagine: How Creativity Works, I recently came to appreciate the natural, professional refining that emerges in urban spaces. 
John's move was prompted by his organization's desire to impact the world through the next generation. It will take no time for Encompass World Partners to realize the benefits of living in denser spaces. Their current headquarters are in a quaint, cul-de-sac of Midwest America, where safety and family values flourish, but creativity suffers. I know because I am a resident of Winona Lake/Warsaw (IN). The byproducts of our insulated community are daily Meth busts and outsourced Orthopedic jobs. Long-boards, too, are on the rise.
I am excited for John: He will grow. (He's moving from an Ohio suburb, where creativity is reduced to customized iPad sleeves and new franchising opportunities.) I am impressed with Encompass: They will expand. (They've navigated name changes and emerging realities; address changes and lingering criticism.) For John and his colleagues, the interaction on city sidewalks and international airports will stretch their imaginations. And imagination is essential to serving God in our ever-changing world.