As some of you may have been aware, I spent the past weekend in the hospital battling a bladder/kidney infection. Several years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 bladder cancer. As a result, after intensive chemotherapy, I had some radical surgery. In that surgery, my bladder was removed and a neobladder was created. The neobladder is a wonder of modern medicine. The surgeon removes a part of the small intestine, the ileum. From this ileum, the surgeon skillfully sews together a sphere that can be used as the patient’s new receptacle to hold the urine the body produces. Sounds miraculous, doesn’t it? There are still some problems to overcome. This neobladder is not like a regular bladder, it has no muscle control to contract the bladder to release the urine. The person has to learn to use the muscles in the abdominal floor for that process. Also, the ileum still thinks it’s part of the intestinal tract, so it produces mucous as a result. Finally, the neobladder is prone to infections.
Now, that’s way more than you probably ever wanted to know about your pastor’s anatomy. My point is, I’m not an infrequent visitor to the ER, or to hospital stays. The level of fever dictates when I have to go to the ER, and then the level of infection dictates I be given heavy-duty IV antibiotics for a time to clear the infection. It’s all become so de rigueur, I hardly get bent out of shape about anymore.
This time, I was in the hospital a little longer than I have been in the past. Lots of time to lay, and think, and pray, and contemplate. My room was on the 11th floor and I had a commanding view of Uptown and downtown. As I lay there, I was continuously amazed at the enormous and broad view before me. All the activity, day and night. It was truly a sight to behold.
The huge expanse that lay before me set me to thinking about the huge expanse of God’s love that lays before us. God’s love is really so huge and ever-expanding, more than we really can take in. We think we grasp it, but all we really see is one tiny part. When I looked out of my window, I could see different buildings, cars, the DART train, people, trees, fountains, a whole display that just kept going and going. The more I looked, the more I saw. The more I saw, the harder it was to keep in perspective how much there really was before me. Isn’t that much like God’s love?
When I begin to think of how God’s love has manifested itself in my life this past year, it is like looking out of my hospital window. The scene is enormous. I cannot really grasp the total picture of all I’ve experienced of God’s ever-unfolding love for me. I’ve grappled with grief. God’s love, through all of you, has surrounded me in ways I can’t even begin to detail. It’s like looking out of that window and trying to focus in on one part of the whole landscape. It’s possible to do it, but then you lose sight of the bigger picture. The bigger picture of God’s love for me is more than simply a personal enfolding in my time of need. There are so many more parts to it. There’s part of the picture of God’s love that breathes breath into my body, activity into my limbs, consciousness into my mind and soul. There’s the part of God’s love that helps me to actually love others, even when my human side doesn’t want to. There’s the part of God’s love that gives me a compassionate heart, to see the hurt in the world and pushes me to do my part to alleviate it. There’s the part of God’s love that reminds me to be a good steward of all that God has created. There’s the part of God’s love that reminds me to be merciful and forgiving toward others. There’s the part of God’s love that bends my knees, and head, and heart in worship. There’s the part of God’s love which calls to mind the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and all the world. Finally, there’s the part of God’s love which assures me I will never really die, but will one day return to God and know the totality of God’s love.
On the day when I meet God face to face, I’ll see the scene before me more clearly. I’ll be able to see the particular parts as well as the entire scene and it will overwhelm and humble me. To know God loved me completely with no beginning and no end. Take a look out of your window, see what all you can take in. Think about how what you see reminds you of God’s awesome love. Friends, we serve a mighty good God, one who sees us not for who we are, but for whose we are, and loves us completely. God sees how we speak, how we act, how we respond, and in spite of all of our warts and failings, God loves us all the way to the core of our being.
And Jesus said, “Love God with all of your heart, all of your strength, all of your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Blessings and Peace,