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).

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