Reflections from the Waiting Room

My wife, Nicole, and I are currently sitting in a surgery center waiting room. Operating RoomOur beautiful daughter, Chandler, who turned 3 six days ago, was just put to sleep for minor surgery.

Our explanation to her consisted of “we’re going to get your teeth fixed so they don’t hurt anymore”. That made sense to her, and she happily followed us back to a room full of metal beds and strangers wearing funny hats. However, when it came to taking a small dose of pink medicine, Nicole had to lay her down, pin her arms and use a syringe to make her swallow it.

All Chandler was aware of at the moment when her own mommy was pinning her down, was that the medicine she was being forced to take tasted “yucky”. She had no idea why she needed the medicine, and if given the explanation, then the option of whether or not to take the medicine, she would have still rejected it.

Chandler turned 3 on February 12 and there is no way that Chandler could understand that her chipped and aching tooth is only what she can see on the surface. The x-rays told a far worse story. All four of her top front teeth were in desperate need of capping, as were some others in the back. If action wasn’t taken very soon, the pain would have only gotten much worse.

I did not want to leave my still conscious 3 year-old princess in the hands of those strange men; knowing they would put a gas mask on her, knock her out, insert an IV, force a breathing tube up her nose and into her lungs, and then grind away at her tiny teeth. I did not want to allow that one bit. But I knew if I didn’t, she would suffer far more pain in the long run.

I have been a father for five and a half years, and I understand now, far better than ever, why the Bible constantly compares God’s relationship with us to ours with our own children. The parallels are seemingly endless.

My princess Chandler, with her Nanny Cee Cee at the beach.
My princess Chandler, with her Nanny Cee Cee at the beach.

God takes no pleasure, whatsoever, in any of the trials or suffering that you or I have to go through. If I enjoyed watching my Chandler suffer, you would call me sick and demented, and rightly so. Why then do we entertain the thought that God might enjoy or even be indifferent to our suffering. Remember, He is not the flawed father. I am.

However, our issue is really not so much that we think He is indifferent to our suffering, but rather that we tend to forget that He places a much higher value on certain areas of growth than we do.

Unfortunately, the currencies of this world often undervalue certain character traits that from heaven’s view are literally priceless.

We were willing to allow Chandler to suffer physically for a short time so she could avoid far greater pain in the future. But there are actually worse things than physical suffering. From God’s perspective, the presence of traits that will have eternal ramifications, such as humility, integrity, holiness, patience, etc. are more important than the absence of physical or psychological pain, which is temporal.

I wanted to cry as I thought of what they were going to do to Chandler, but I didn’t, because I knew it was actually a blessing, albeit a veiled one. Don’t ever forget that it truly breaks God’s heart to see us suffer. But when it comes to the most important things in our lives, our Father does indeed know what is best.

The Uninvited Guest

She knew exactly what she was…and hated herself for it.Middle Eastern Woman 2

Most people slip up sometimes and do things they regret. Her life was centered around enticing men at their lowest to go even lower. Few, after spending time with her, could sleep soundly at night. Instead, they toss and turn, wondering if others will find out.

She had some regulars, but most of her clients were complete strangers. Shame was her only consistent companion.

Last week, she was walking the streets in the afternoon and came upon a crowd. They were all looking in the same direction. She could hear gasps and see wide eyes. Typically, she avoided crowds, but her curiosity drew her closer.

She neared the crowd, then began pushing  her way through. As soon as people saw her, they grimaced and sneered. The crowd parted as she walked on, to avoid contact with someone so vile. That used to bother her; she would feel hurt. Now she was just numb.Middle eastern woman

Silence swept through the crowd as she approached the spectacle. Then she saw Him. He looked over his shoulder and into her eyes…into her soul…and smiled.

It was an innocent, loving, and kind smile. A smile unlike any she had seen in years. It was so unexpected that she didn’t even notice what He was doing.

His arm was outstretched towards the one person in town who was treated worse than she was. Now it was her time to gasp, as she realized His hand was actually touching the leper!

But the leper didn’t look like a leper anymore. He looked…normal!

Her thoughts were reeling. “I have seen that leper since I was an innocent child and have no idea what his name is. Nobody does. Nobody cared. Until now.”

She stumbled as she tried to take it all in. The crowd was soon left behind her as she walked the streets for the rest of the day; not looking for work, but trying to make sense of what she had seen. But she just couldn’t.

“He possessed the power to heal a leper, and the mercy to touch him. And…he smiled at me.”

She didn’t work that night, or the night after that. How could she?

If only she could see him again; tell him thank you; honor him the way he deserved to be honored; say “I’m sorry”.

She didn’t know why, but for some reason she felt like every bad thing she had done, every temptation yielded to, every one in some way dishonored Him…wounded Him, even.

After another restless night’s sleep, she started roaming the town again and heard rumors…Jesus was coming! Without the ability to engage people directly, she had to eavesdrop around town to get more details.

He was coming to Simon the Pharisee’s house, tomorrow!

Excitement filled her heart, but it was immediately replaced by panic.

“I have to see Him, but there is no way they will let me in to a gathering of such holy people. What will I say?!”

But she was determined! No matter what it took, she would see Jesus.

Sleep evaded her that night as she tried to think of the right words. Somehow, nothing seemed appropriate. She had to say something!

“I know! I will give him a gift!”

She searched her small home and spotted her most prized possession…an alabaster jar full of ointment. It was the only thing she owned that was worthy of Him.

The morning finally came, and she dressed herself more modestly than usual. As the time for the meeting drew near, she was almost running through the city streets towards Simon’s house.

It loomed large and imposing in the distance, in a part of town she had rarely seen.As she got close, she could see that the courtyard was still open!

Her nerves caused her to stop just outside of Simon’s house. But she closed her eyes tight to build up the nerve to barge into the house of someone who would be furious at her intrusion.

As she walked in, everybody in the room turned and looked at her with scorn. Everyone, except Jesus.

He looked at her and everything else was instantly drowned out. He looked into her eyes. He knew…everything. How?! She had no idea. But it was true.

He was looking at every single page of her life…all the horrible, lurid details. She kept expecting Him to turn away in disgust. He did the exact opposite. He forgave her! He hadn’t said a word, but she could see it in his eyes.

She instantly knew no words would be appropriate as she knelt at His feet and began weeping. As each tear fell, she could feel her load lifting. A burden she had been carrying for decades was being taken from her.

She started wiping His feet with her hair, smearing the tears in the dust. Then she brought out her most prized possession and began pouring it on His feet. She had no idea that anyone was speaking around her, much less that they were talking about her. It wouldn’t have mattered.

Then she heard Him speak for the first time…only four words, but four words that would completely change her life. “Your sins are forgiven.”

Now it was her turn to gasp as her burden was completely lifted from her.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace”

She stood up to leave and could feel a difference. She no longer stooped with the weight of her past. She felt lighter. There was something that she felt, as well…something new.

“This must be…joy.”

She slowly walked away, and those outside did not recognize the new woman who walked out of Simon’s house.