1 Corinthians 4:9-13
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
9-13 I sometimes think that God means us, the messengers, to appear last in the procession of mankind, like the men who are to die in the arena. For indeed we are made a public spectacle before the angels of Heaven and the eyes of men. We are looked upon as fools, for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in the Christian faith. We are considered weak, but you have become strong: you have found honour, we little but contempt. Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty, ill-clad, knocked about and practically homeless. We still have to work for our living by manual labour. Men curse us, but we return a blessing: they make our lives miserable but we take it patiently. They ruin our reputations but we go on trying to win them for God. We are the world’s rubbish, the scum of the earth, yes, up to this very day.
I had the pleasure of speaking at length with my mother today about a broad array of topics. I am so blessed that she is still here, nearby. I realize that so many no longer have the joy of their mother’s companionship because of death, illness or a broken relationship. But I still have my mom. About six and a half years ago, the outlook for my mother was rather bleak–she was diagnosed with two malignant tumors and had “angry” lymph nodes. Even though she had had regular mammograms, she still found the lumps herself. I know I have written about her before, and the sweet testimony she had as she prepared for her surgery and all through the chemotherapy.
Today, we had a lengthy conversation. It started with garden talk–most of the plants I have in my garden are donations from my mom and dad’s garden. They have an absolutely gorgeous lot and my father has spent a lot of his retirement planting, fertilizing, mulching, dividing and sharing his treasures with me. When he isn’t cultivating the soil in his yard, he is planting and fertilizing spiritual seeds in the hearts of inmates at the local county jail. You know, when your parents reach a certain age, they really don’t NEED anything, the house is filled up with treasures from a lifetime of living, and gift-giving becomes a little more challenging. So…I get them plants or photos of the great grandkids. I know…I don’t have much of an imagination when it comes to giving my parents gifts, although for their anniversary this year, I made them a super cool photo BOOK through Shutterfly…I will be doing more of that…what a concept. But, I digress, big time! 🙂
So we talked about the plants…which ones have already grown and are done blooming, which ones look healthy…you know, garden shop talk. I was pretty excited because one of my plants is already full-size and covered in beautiful little blue blossoms. IT IS STILL MID MARCH!!! And then…two yellow finches came to the new finch feeder today. THAT made my day super special. We discussed making vs. purchasing hummingbird food (I told my mom I would supply her with it), and then she says,
“Did I tell you I was to the oncologist for my blood work?”
“No…,” I responded.
“Well, I went for my follow up blood work and I saw this woman with two bags, and her lunch with her. I recognized the pink bag, because I had one too, you know the pink for breast cancer?” she continued. “Well, I just felt compelled to go talk with her, to encourage her. So I went over there and told her that I had a pink bag too.”
My mother continued to share with me the encounter she had with this fellow breast cancer patient. “She said she had had breast cancer before, and now it was back behind where her breast was removed…in the bone and in her brain. It made my heart kind of sink for a minute, but I told her about what I had told my doctors when I found out I had cancer,” she said.
For a moment, I had forgotten this awesome line that my mother had used. As soon as she said it, I remembered so clearly.
“I told her that I didn’t have to be afraid because my Eternal Life Insurance Policy was paid in full by Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins. I told my doctors this, and anyone else that I saw…I figured they might consider me a fool, but I would be a fool for Christ.”
My mother shared this same story with the woman who drew her blood, and then she shared it with her oncologist, and upon exiting the doctor’s office shared it with someone else. My mother simply and beautifully took what had been a potentially terrifying diagnosis and used it to encourage and comfort others with the truth that their diagnosis did not have to steal away their hope. In Christ, there is hope and peace to weather the most violent storm when your eternal life insurance policy is paid in full.
At a mere 5′ 2″ (if THAT), my mother stands quite tall. Her sisters used to say they came from “good stock–those Johnsons”–but I believe the bloodline that gives my mother that strength comes from her faith in Jesus Christ–her willingness to be a fool for His sake. My mother encourages me so much. It is because of her that I began to write. She has believed in me when I sure didn’t, and she can get away with nagging me to do something because she knows it is the right thing. Although she is not able to get out very much (although she is cancer free, the chemo left its marks in her body) her strength continues to pour out like a fountain. THAT is what comes from a heart full of joy and hope and confidence. It is my own prayer that I may be as big a fool for Christ as my mother (and my father, who is just as much a fool for Christ as his wife)!