Not in spite of his love, but because of it

Posted on May 12, 2011

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Two months ago, the shop at Moody was short handed, the school  was undergoing a safety audit, and Clarissa was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  At the time I was at my wits end.  I am one of only a handful of people in the shop able to sign off on annual inspections, which meant I had to be there, no mater how much I wanted to just crawl into a hole.

I remember the worst part of that was feeling out of control.  I could not cure my wife’s disease. I could not, despite my best efforts find insurance that would cover more than a couple of months worth of the medicine we needed.  At $30,000-$45,000 a year for the meds I knew I could not possibly work enough to provide for that.  I learned all about the risks and benefits of ordering your drugs from Canada, and was crunching numbers in my head to figure out how to get $900 extra a month if that became our only option.  I was clinging to anything I could do to try and make Clarissa better.

Two months later, we are still short handed in the shop, things are busy there with the weather finally turning nice and the students being able to fly.  We have been promised a year of medicine for free thanks to Assist Rx.  We are settling into a routine of me injecting Clarissa with her meds every night.  I often think it would be easier for me to inject myself than her. I have a little more perspective now on these last few months.

This is not a tragedy that is a surprise to God. This is not something he has allowed to happen even though it is bad.  This is his love lavished on us. He is so deeply interested in our hearts that everything else is secondary. He has and is saving us, daily cutting out our sin as a surgeon removing diseased flesh. I won’t speak for Clarissa’s sin; she is capable of that.

Mine, however, stands out glaringly.  I was so obsessed with Clarissa being taken care of, I needed to feel like the good husband who provides for his wife, and I sunk all my energy into that.  I was attempting to justify myself by my performance as a provider, and I was doing that even before the diagnosis.  All the disease did was make it clear that I was utterly incapable of doing that. It brought to light a truth that I was ignoring, that my sense of being okay was in my performance not in the performance of Christ.

That sounds high and lofty, but let me tell you, it is good news on the ground floor of my life.  I don’t have to go into a tailspin when I see I have not been a good provider, or failed to do some task that is my responsibility.  I can embrace that.  Yes, I did mess up, and it is probably worse than you think. The reality is that when the Father looks down on me he sees the performance of Christ. In his accounting, I get credit for providing perfectly for my wife even though I don’t.  I get this rich redemption that sets me free from my performance. On the days that I truly believe that my performance is not part of my identity, that who I am is rooted in my sonship; I love my wife more freely, and more completely than when I think I have to to be okay.

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