The past few days have been crazy. It has nothing to do with Christmas. It has everything to do with you getting sick for the first time.
It was Christmas Eve. You and I were hanging out like we do every morning. Except this morning, even though you hadn’t eaten for 11 hours, you weren’t interested in your bottle. I kept at it, and half an hour later, and less than half your bottle later, you puked on your self, on me, the couch, even the floor.
You didn’t cry, but I panicked.
You sat on the floor playing with your pyramid-shaped multi-toy while I scrambled for your diaper bag, a change of clothes for you and my shoes.
Within five minutes we were in the car and on our way to the hospital. You smiled and played with your teething keys the whole way. We arrived half an hour before the pediatrician’s office opened. I wanted to take you to the emergency room, but the receptionist, a mother of two, assured me that you looked fine, and that the formula-colored puke on my sweater and jeans was no reason to pay an emergency room bill.
So we waited. And, of course, the doctor arrived forty minutes late because of the previous night’s snowstorm. You acted fine the whole time, never once crying.
We finally saw the doctor, and she assured me you just had an upset stomach. After answering a thousand of my first-time-parent-with-a-first-time-sick-kid-questions, she sent us on our way.
You couldn’t keep anything down for the next two days, except Pedialite. At least once each day I tried to give you a little formula, thinking, you can’t subsist on baby Gatorade forever.
Each time you looked and acted happy and healthy. Each time you puked.
About half way through the day today I tried a few ounces of formula again, holding my breath. You ate it. You kept it down. An hour went by, and still, it stayed down. You ate two more small servings of formula today, in conjunction with the one ounce of Pedialite every hour.
Now, you’re sleeping peacefully.
When you’re old enough to look at the pictures of your first Christmas you’ll probably ask me if this is a made up story. It isn’t. Just ask the receptionist who had to talk me down. You didn’t cry any more than normal, you weren’t any more needy than normal. You acted totally normal. But really, you were sick.
Lewis, one of the greatest challenges of sharing the gospel is that we live in a day and time when no one thinks they’re “sick.” We all believe, and act, as if everything is fine. We don’t believe we’re in need of a doctor because we don’t believe we’re sick.
Just like some people don’t believe in global climate change, in spite of the obvious state of the world, many people don’t believe in sin, despite the obvious state of the world.
When you get older and read Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Dunne, Milton, Augustine and others, you’ll see that once upon a time everyone knew they were wicked and depraved. Back then you could say, “You need help, to be rescued from your depravity,” and the accused would nod in agreement. Now, we first have to be convinced we’re depraved, to have our depravity pointed out to us.
I don’t blame anyone for getting mad or obstinate with proselytizers and street preachers. How could you possibly consider the Gospel “good news” when it’s only presented after being told how wicked, evil and depraved you are?
Just like I tried to force something you legitimately need – formula – we as Christians often try to force Jesus. No wonder people reject him. While you’re healing you can only take in so much formula, even though it’s ultimately what will sustain you.
People need Jesus, Lewis, make no mistake. But healing is a process. It’s a process that takes time, attention and, most importantly, love.
Because your mom and I love you we held you every hour on the hour and fed you Pedialite, eventually moving on to formula once you were ready. We washed clothes, changed sheets, held you, and did whatever it took for as long as it took, to nurse you back to health.
Lewis, if you’re going to live a life that honors Christ, that will draw – not force – others to Him, you have to learn that 1 Corinthians 13 is true; love is patient and kind, never rude or proud, not demanding, never glad about injustice, and only celebrates when truth wins. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Believing and living this out is the only way your friends and mine will ever recognize their need for Jesus.
I love you, Lewis. I hate that you were sick, but I’m thankful for what your sickness taught me.
Are you like me; do you have a hard time admitting you’re “sick”?
Do you find you’re told, “You’re sick,” more often than, “You’re loved!”?
Is this why you keep Jesus at a distance?
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