Certainty. That’s a word that seems to elude these days concerning next steps for me and my un-beloved partner, the brain tumor. Yet I am drawn to the way Paul begins his discussion to the Corinthians about aging and pain. He starts the conversation with this certainty. “For we know…” He is talking about his mortal body pushing through life’s trials to finally take on immortality. I really don’t want to think about my immortality, not yet. My mortal body is, for the most part, in good stead, but only for this blasted tumor! When I am asked about my eventual surgery most of the time I say things like, “Surgery? Um, I think it’s going to be soon… not sure really.” I don’t even want to say that we are 95 per cent sure that this could surgery could happen this year in Germany! Not quite the certainty I so wish I could have.
What I always have liked about this Paul-guy is his positive faith. He never seems to complain nor give up even in dire circumstances. Paul finds ways in his writings to help me and millions to cope with our situations. To the Corinthians he gives this metaphor describing the present plight of aging and pain. He says our present earthly situation is like a tent. A tent! How many of you have ever camped in a tent? Did you like it? I personally don’t like camping in a tent. I would rather be in a cushy five star beach hotel replete with Jacuzzi any day!
I kind of blame my lack of love for camping on my parents. Don’t get me wrong, we had some amazing summers camping together. Maybe the spoiler was when I was a young boy and Dad decided that we needed to camp in a tent for 6 weeks straight. Needless to say I’ve camped a lot, even in the snow as a boy scout. It’s not that fun!
Strangely enough a few years ago I bought a tent for Christmas. We set it up in the front yard of our Bangkok home and the girls wanted to sleep in it with Dad! Well, the girls found out that it wasn’t that much fun and we all ended up going back to a real bed in the air-conditioned house.
So I am reminiscing about the good ole’camping days. Here a few things I know about tent living. There is little or no privacy; you can hear everything that happens in the tent and outside of the tent! (Everything!!!) Any food in the tent attracts bugs and tends to spoils quickly. I still remind mom about her making me drink sour milk with my Rice Krispies! Cruelty to children!
Moreover a tent in the day is hot, in the rain humid, and at night it can be cold and uncomfortable. All you camping lovers know what I say is true, sleeping in a tent is a cramped and uncomfortable experience and hard on the back! Am I Right? After awhile the tent poles begins to sag… By the end of a few days or weeks, you are dreaming, just groaning to go back home to your comfortable house!
Aging bodies sometimes feel that way! Paul says it better than I could ever do:
“While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.” – Paul, the Apostle
So the way I deal with my present tumor-situation is to remind myself that I am part of the human race and things like this happens to all people some time down the road. I do wish it was further down the road than at only 50! I also know a lot of people keep praying for me and I feel those prayers. I also know I can face this situation with faith and hope believing that whatever the outcomes are, He is faithful to see me through.
But admittedly there are those ‘other times’ when I shake my head and ask myself if this is just a dream, and I let out a groan because I know it’s real. “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh,” The words of Paul are a reminder that it is normal for us to groan out for something better! A groan is an emotional response to the pain and disappointment we feel. It is not great to experience uncertainty and pain.
Yet when I find myself in a place where there is music, music that exalts the character of God, I find myself being lifted again to a good place. No more worries at that moment. When I see beauty in nature and in the eyes and laughter around me, I feel full again. I forget the pain, even for an instant. When I visit someone who is in the hospital hanging on for dear life… it makes me want to hang on too! And I will…
Ah, sweet certainty. I am alive, life is happening here right now, all around me and inside me. If I am still here then there is still more for me to learn, I shall dance the sacred dance of the over-comers, I have more people to love and more to do; God’s purpose for my life is not over. At least that I am so certain of!