Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't think I could do it (and other random heart-related thoughts)

Cade is sick. He's more sick than I remember ever seeing him, barring the initial hostipal treatments during his first few days of life. Two events in the last 24 hours have triggered a few deep thoughts in my head and strong feelings in my heart. The first happened last night when we discovered he wasn't feeling great. Susie and I were heading to bed around 10:30. Cade was in bed early because he was cutting a new molar and that had him feeling crummy all day. We heard him crying and decided to go check on him. Sometimes we'll let him cry and put himself back to sleep, but this time we investigated. When we walked in he was standing up and crying in his crib, squinting in the light, himself and his crib completely covered in the food he'd eaten yesterday. It was the most pitiful sight, and my heart broke for him. Susie took him right into the bath and I worked on his clothe, room, and bed. He ended up throwing up twice more throughout the night. Susie and her mom took Cade to the doctor this morning and we found out he has a virus. Really all we can do is try to make him comfortable and manage his fever until it passes. He's been in a poor state during the day and evening.

The second event was just earlier this evening. Susie and her mom went to a church function a while ago and Cade had finally gone to sleep right before they left. Only a few minutes after they had left I heard him crying. All day today it seemed like he just couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep well so he tossed and turned a lot. I went in and stood by his crib and rubbed his back, but when I thought he was asleep and turned to leave he would start crying right when I got out the door. This happened a few times so I ultimately took him and held him for about a half hour as he worked his way back to sleep on my chest. It was a sweet time to be with him and to just console him as he just kind of moaned and tried to get comfortable enough to sleep. Susie said earlier today that in some ways she doesn't mind him being sick because he's so dependent on her and just longs for her to hold him and it's a real feeling of connection. I can identify with that, but at the same time it just pains me to see him as uncomfortable as he is. I spent that time praying for him to feel better and for him in general. Finally he drifted off enough that I could put him back in his crib. So far so good (knock knock).

Those two images, of Cade standing and crying in his crib covered in vomit, and of his sick little face curled up on my chest contorting and straining against his virus in an effort to get some rest have burned themselves into my mind. I hate seeing him less than the vibrant, fun bundle of life we're used to. The thought that kept entering my mind as I rocked him back to sleep was, "Dear God, how did you ever allow your only son to be tortured and killed? I don't think I could do it. I don't have enough love and grace in me."

And see, there's the rub. As much as Susie or I love Cade, that love pales in comparison to God's love for me and for every person that's ever been conceived on this planet. He's the only one capable of that kind of love. I firmly believe the most unselfish thing a perfect being could do is to create other beings for the sole purpose of enjoying himself. And even more incredibly, He didn't force his love and any kind of obedience on us. Forced obedience creates a resentment or no feeling at all. So He allows us to make the choice to cut the ties and reject Him. And we do. Everyday. We're people that want to know how far we can stretch a rule. How fast can I go over the speed limit without getting a ticket (FYI: in Owensboro it's less than 6 over)? How much can I slack off before my A drops to a B or my B drops to a C? How mediocre can I allow my work to be before it gets noticed for the crap that it is? How little time can I spend with God and how little can I mention Him in conversation and how little can I care about the people around me without giving up my status as a "good Christian guy?" But it's not about rules. It's about our hearts.

I'd like to share a story I read a few days ago that I really liked. I've read it a few times since I first came across it. I love the ending. It's about a king that decided his people had been rebellious for too long. When he became king, he made it a priority to repair and re-consecrate the temple in Jerusalem and re-consecrate the priests of the land so they could worship the God that had delivered them over and over. He wanted to do it right. He wanted to celebrate the most important festival of thanks to God as a nation for the first time in a long time, but enough priests had not been consecrated and the people had not been assembled in time. The Passover was normally celebrated in the first month of the year, but instead they chose to celebrate it in the second month just this one time because it was a priority to return to their traditions of honoring God and remembering what he had done for them. Historically, this was a no-no. Additionally, many of the people who had come from a distance to celebrate had not ceremonially purified themselves so they were actually celebrating the festival in direct opposition to God's law. But here's what happened: "(The king) prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God - the Lord, the God of their ancestors - even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the Lord heard (the king) and healed the people." (2 Chronicles 29-30)

I love that story. I love it because we get so wrapped up in focusing on the rules and the lists of things we can and cannot do. We hold so tighly to the taboos and boundaries we've set up in our minds, we don't take the time to examine our hearts, and our hearts go astray. But our hearts are what matter to God. My heart longs for my son to feel good and be happy. God's heart longs for me to be close to him and to care about others. He longs for my heart so much that he watched his son endure the worst pain any person has ever endured because without his blood my shortcomings would separate me from God. He allowed his son to be tortured and killed because he longs for the hearts of so many that choose to completely disregard him. Because His love and grace are enough to overcome anything I can do in rebellion to Him, I have the freedom to love my son. So I stand amazed at my God yet again and thank him for his limitless love, his unending forgiveness, and the grace to allow me to have a son if only for the ability to further appreciate the sacrifice he made in giving up his own for me.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Matt,
Wow...your post has blessed my heart! Thank you for reminding me of the gracious God I serve! I don't focus on Him nearly enough but I know He is near always. I pray Cade is feeling a little better now. It's so hard to watch your little ones suffer...that never changes no matter how old they get. :)

Stephanie