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The Good Life

“The idea of reaching “a good life” without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up “a good life” as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain that we cannot climb by our own efforts, and if we could, we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished, for it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are “done away,” and the rest is a matter of flying.”[1]

 

After reading Lewis’s writings this morning, the idea of the “good life” hit home. It is on this vacation of mine that many revelations of the past have come to life – some enlightening, while many are heartbreaking.

Visiting family, one encounters both extremes of the socioeconomic spectrum. From one end to the other, there is a common thread that is ever present – the impact of their choices in life or their own family’s choices, all impacting their ever-present position. To see the wealth of some, a portrayal of success for this world, only to hear of their tortuous relationships and loss of love begs the question, “Have they gained the world and lost their souls?” Some have succumbed under the weight of caring for others to the point that they are smothering beneath the daily load of supporting family beyond their own – piles upon piles of debris and belongings strewn about to the point there are few places to sit. Then some are so debilitated by health that they can barely function. Those who for years lived as if the poison they injected into their bodies was of no concern, only to, in the end, succumb to its dark, sinister destruction, cancer, and other diseases enriched by those foods containing unhealthy ingredients.

David Paul, one of my first cousins who had the nickname Deep, was probably the hardest one of the family to visit. In his youth, he was a rebellious, soul-searching hellion, always finding ways to provoke the world in which he lived. He eventually married and fathered a child with a woman much like him, yet one that seemed to tame his wild side. Her name was Suzi. She would eventually die of lung cancer, but not before Deep would take out a second mortgage on his home to pay for the experimental cancer treatments in Franklin, Tennessee. Before starting them, she was in a wheelchair and told she had maybe a year to live. After the stem cell treatments, Suzi went on to walk again and live another twelve years. For the last two, she was bedridden.

However, by then, Deep’s own throat cancer had cost him his ability to work full-time, and he was forced to stay home. The struggle became a blessing, as he told me that he was then able to spend the last two years at home with his dying bride. Through all of his pain and suffering, he found himself closer to God. Suzi’s ashes sit under the T.V. in a wooden box with a hummingbird carved on the outside. Deep now speaks through a throat tube because of his larynx being removed in order to save his life. He proudly told me he had been cancer free for over two years. When I offered to take him anywhere he wanted to go, he responded, “I don’t go anywhere.” What he was saying, without saying it, was that he struggled to go out in public with what he’s been reduced to. One can only imagine what embarrassment it is to have such a disability, yet, through it all, there is a testimony. His life has now changed to the point he knows that God is in him and that he longs for heaven. Yet, no one will ever know his story. For him to share, speaking as he does, would be painful not only for the audience but for him as well. What he doesn’t realize is that in their pain to hear, they would also be opened up to the understanding of how one, through their suffering, can be consoled even more by God. Sadly, it would take a miracle in itself to get him to share his testimony.

Deep’s hesitancy to share with the world is much like how we are likewise hesitant to speak about the Good News of Christ to those around us, whether they be family, friends, or acquaintances. Are we not just as guilty? What keeps us from doing such is as much as what’s wrong with our society as what’s right – our self-consciousness, defeating the fear of being embarrassed, thus, protecting the sensibilities of our self-image. Why is self so important? Why do we fear opening up ourselves to allowing the world to see who we are? Is it our insecurities? And what drives these? The answer is the fear of people seeing who we really are, hiding the sin we bear within ourselves. The solution to this problem is to seek the cleansing that can only come from receiving Christ into our lives. When we come to realize that when Christ is in us, we have nothing to hide, our lives become the light in a dark world, and our inhibitions fall away, allowing us to become a testimony to others.

As you go about your day today, consider your juxtaposition with God. Are you close enough to Him that everything else falls away? Can you overlook your inhibitions to become a beacon of hope to others? Try to put those things of this world behind you and let the light of Christ shine through you in all you do. And lastly, always say, “Thanks be to God.”

[1] God in the Dock. Copyright © 1970 by The Trustees of the Estate of C. S. Lewis. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 1968 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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