|photo credit here|
there is a boundary line drawn across the heart of my friend, one that I dare not cross.
when we are together, face to face, there are moments of silly … and then there are moments when I try, with words that she trusts come from a soul-friend, to “poke” her a bit.
Sort of like when the pediatrician gives my little one a check up, poking a single finger into his dough-boy tummy and asking:
“Does this hurt?” “How about this?”
I’m trying to make sure that she’s okay – really okay. that there isn’t something she’s keeping hidden, some lie hidden in darkness that has the opportunity to fester, unchecked.
I’ll be honest, in the moment, it feels a bit like those guys who
try to dismantle IEDs in the streets of Baghdad, or a surgeon probing a scalpel into an embattled heart.
One false move might trip a live wire, might cause more harm than good. I try to steep, like a tea bag, in prayer before ever uttering a word. And I study her – so that I’ll know where her vulnerabilities lie.
From experience, I know that one of those exposed wires is a single word – one that she cannot say without the corners of her mouth tipping downward, one that I cannot type without tears blurring my laptop screen.
A curse word. One that never seriously existed in my vocabulary six months ago, when it was a phantom illness, a headline I may have read somewhere and quickly forgotten.
It is real to me now.
It is this:
“a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.“
[courtesy of the CDC]
But it is more than this, too.
It is a smile stealer.
A home wrecker.
A silent killer.
I wanted to write this post to say, triumphantly, that heaven is a place where meningitis has been defeated. Not prevented partially by vaccine, not minimized by antibiotic, nor lessened by any human and flawed means, but wholly absent from our experience. I wanted to write this post and celebrate a home in heaven that will be free from meningitis.
And car accidents.
And any and every form of sickness, pain, and death.
But as I started to type, I felt a heavy burden to say more. To write a warning, more stern and more serious than even the surgeon general’s.
I feel burdened to say, though I wish, in no way, to minimize the pain of those who suffer now from chronic illness or grief over the death of a loved one – that there is a sickness greater than these.
A meningitis of the soul.
It is characterized by an inflammation of self-interest, of pride, of earthly pleasure-seeking. Those who carry it are often fooled into thinking that they are immune, or that they can protect themselves by simply “trying to be good.”
The disease is also elusive, going through periods of perceived dormancy before flaming up again in symptomatic behavior. What’s worse, many who suffer from it don’t really want to be cured – just made comfortable.
This disease – for the term “sin” doesn’t seem to hold enough power in our modern vernacular – is chronic, meaning that even those who pursue its cure will battle with it for the rest of their earthly lives.
And those who choose to ignore it? To numb its pain with pills or power trips or other earthly pleasures? They will, if left uncured, experience true death in an eternity apart from our Creator, the one who mapped each inch of our DNA. The one who can cure with only a word from His mouth.
Lest these words read like a giant finger pointing, let me say it plain:
I am no picture of perfect health.
Each and every day, I battle the sickness of self-first, and though I work to build up immunity by attending worship, by reading His healing words, there are still days when I am sick of soul, when I wallow, when I reach for a band-aid instead of submitting to surgery – when I want a temporary “feel good” instead of eternal sanctification.
And so, to my sick and weary heart, one of the most soul-sought
joys of Heaven is the hope of true rest.
To be perfectly whole in body and in soul will mean, for the very first time, that I be able to exist without anxiety, without striving to keep all things in my control.
When I think of Bane, when I consider where he is, I have to work to
free my mind from the tethers of earthly existence. Only then comes a Hallelujah that is felt as keenly as the pain of loss –
for Bane’s soul was and is and will forever be meningitis free.
Can I poke you a bit, dear reader, though you may not consider me your soul-friend?
Can I ask – just this: are you soul-sick, too?
Can I say, that as I typed this, I prayed – though I don’t know who you are or what the specifics of your pain might be? I prayed that you would examine your own heart, as we all must, and that you might present the infirmity that you find there
to the only One who can eradicate it fully,
the One whose power has defeated death itself.
I prayed that you – and I – might invite the Spirit to dwell within, to be an ever-present shield from the slings and arrows of death that we encounter daily.
because meningitis may be a curse word,
sin is the real silent killer.
Where is Bane? He is enjoying a brand new body, perfect and whole. His skin, so soft and butter brown, is even more beautiful than it was when his Daddy brushed against it, cheek to stubbly cheek, because it actually radiates the joy of God’s love.
And though my soul-friend must fight daily to experience the joy that her son experiences so effortlessly, I know this to be true: that if anything in today’s post stirred you, that if any words here moved you to think or to question, she would be blessed to hear you share your heart. Care to send her an email? The address is banebow (at) gmail.com.
Though I know we’d promised a giveaway with each “Heaven” post, we’re all feeling a bit distracted today, as the sickness that I mentioned yesterday continued with Livi keeping a low-grade fever through the night – one that, quite understandably, has been difficult for Sonya and Drason to go through.
Because of this, instead of giving, we’re asking to receive – your prayers and encouraging comments would be so appreciated as the Beasleys deal with making visits back to places that are loaded with difficult memories. May God be praised, even as our hands quiver in pain and fear.