On Mr. Harris and Frail Bodies

Whenever Mr. Franklin Harris snoozes at church, I wonder if the ninety-five year old man with whom I sit will awake again. He is a wonderful example of someone who loves Jesus, and he brims with wisdom. His body is frail, though.

He recognizes his disability consisting of his inability to stand for long and his use of a walker. Mr. Harris is more hunched than my grandma was, and she went from being a tall woman to one under five feet. Every week I half expect to hear news of Mr. Harris’s passing simply because he is so aged and frail. Seeing him nod off again today reminded me that these bodies in which we live are only shells.

oikos psychou

The body is

a shell.

Soon it will be empty

like a hermit

crab.

Where will your soul

go?

Every time Mr. Harris mentions his heart surgery from a few years back, current doctor appointments, or his frail body, he turns those same sentences into clauses worshipping His Creator. Week after week he reminds me, “God is good.”

Mr. Harris doesn’t know why he remained alive after his heart surgery but to glorify God and share Jesus for a little while longer.

Mr. Harris reminded me of God’s faithfulness when I was grieving my aunt’s death last month. I asked him how to grieve properly, and he replied that he had a wife years and years ago who died, and his second wife also passed away. He clearly knows heartache, but the Sunday I asked about grief, he recognized God’s faithfulness in the midst of pain.

Whenever my ninety-five year old friend leaves this earth, I will rejoice that he will have left pain and heartache behind. He will meet his Savior, Jesus Christ, and see God’s face for all of eternity. I will grieve my loss, not his.

He has been excited about knowing Jesus and has been faithful to God since he was a child going to saw-dust and chair-lined revival meetings with his mother. Today he told me that he was excited about Jesus then and wanted to tell his friends about Him, and he said that still has not stopped.

Mr. Harris points every conversation back to God, and I know that when his soul leaves his bodily shell, rejoicing will ensue. I will grieve him as I would a dear friend or close family member, but my soul will be delighted for him, wishing I could go as well.

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A Story of Healing

Dear readers, I need to tell you a story of God’s healing. It is not a new story, for it happened last semester, but I want to share it with you so that God can be glorified by more people than just my immediate friends who knew about it when it occurred.

In the fall, my wrist began to hurt badly. When the pain began, my roommate prayed over me. As soon as she was done, she asked if it was better. It was not. It swelled and throbbed.

After a few days, I went to the nurse at Student Health Services because the pain was growing worse. While it wasn’t sharp pain, it was the kind that never left. I couldn’t write for long or play piano, and the pain nearly brought me to tears.

The nurse gave me a wrist wrap and told me to ice the area and take anti-inflammatory pain relievers. She said it was tendonitis and had probably ensued from having so much typing to do and not placing my wrists on the laptop keyboard ergonomically. She recommended buying a pad upon which to rest my wrists as I worked on my computer.

I wrapped my wrist, iced it on and off for days, borrowed a friend’s brace, and leaned my wrists on some rolled up cloth when I typed. Despite these things, I still had to take many breaks while I did my homework, and while the brace was helpful, the pain remained.

About a week after my wrist pain began, I had to help lead worship for a Bible study and for bro-sis worship afterwards. I was supposed to play guitar and sing that Wednesday night, but I was still quite injured and could not play guitar. After praying that someone would be able to replace my guitar position, I bumped into a girl from my sister floor who knew someone who could help at bro-sis worship. Thanks be to our God who hears our prayers!

Another friend covered my guitar part for the first half of Bible study, and we made do with just the piano when she had to leave. When we arrived at a song we hadn’t practiced together, I took over on piano, despite my injured wrist. It still hurt. My friend Wes resumed his place at the piano afterwards, and I went back to leading the vocals.

While I was singing, God told me to lift up my hand. I obeyed, and suspecting something miraculous had just happened, I tested it out, moving my wrist around and using it to do normal things that had hurt me mere minutes before. God had indeed healed my wrist!

I was astounded and grateful  to God for this, but I couldn’t figure out why He had healed me.

I wrestle with the thought of healing, for I know that God can and does heal, but I also think that some people want to be healed for every little thing and may end up missing Jesus in the healing. Furthermore, I know that God is sometimes glorified more when people are not healed than if He had physically healed them. An example of this is David McClain, a man who has lived with ALS longer than he “should” have and who has joyously spread the Gospel through his suffering. I do not believe God will always heal those who pray, nor should he. Our eyes must be joyously focused on Jesus regardless of physical pain or healing.

I question what the purpose of healing is. Multiple people in the Bible were healed by faith, and Jesus forgave their sins before announcing their healing. Others followed Jesus after He healed them. This makes it seems as if He heals so that people will come to Him. However, Jesus also had compassion on the crowds and healed thousands of sick people, and they did not all believe Him to be the Messiah. So what was the purpose?

Perhaps He healed these people out of pure love in the face of human sin and rebellion. This foreshadows the Gospel story: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ [Jesus] died for us” (Romans 5:8). Isn’t it beautiful? God makes His glory known in ways that we cannot understand, yet I love catching glimpses of it.

Another Scripture passage dealing with healing is found in the book of James. It can be found towards the end in the section devoted to prayer. This passage has furthered my curiosity about the purpose of healing. Please note that I’m purposely leaving out the reference so that you might read the entirety of the short book and discover its full message.

I know that God heals. His healing me filled me with awe and wonder and praise for Him.

After pondering why God healed me, I came to the conclusion that God healed me just to show that He could. I’ll repeat that: The only reason I could ascertain about my healing was that God healed me just to show that He could. Saying this brings me joy: I serve a God who heals! He is all-mighty, He does care for His people immensely, and He is always wonderful and worthy of our praise.

I serve the God who heals.

Realization

Earlier this week I wrote a short song about Africa titled “Realization.” The lyrics begin, “You’re calling me to Africa/ You’re calling me to Africa/ You’re calling me to feel their hurt/ and I already do/ and I’ll gladly go/ leaning on Your strength.” These lyrics introduce the urge God has placed in me to be a missionary in Africa, something I have desired since I was a child.

The song continues with a realization that I’ve had recently: “But I’m missing the hope that pierces the darkness/ I’m missing Your life/ You are already there/ I’m missing Your hope/ ignoring Your healing/ I’m forgetting Your joy/ You are good everywhere/ But I want to be the one to say I fixed it.” I had been struggling to understand my feelings, not having words to express them, and God encouraged me to stay in the prayer chapel to write this song. Only when writing it did I realize that my pride has been obscuring the hope and beauty of what God is already doing around the world and at home.

After I realized that “I want to be the one to say I fixed it,” my realization continued, “And I can’t/ And I don’t wanna be the one in the end/ Lord, use me/ I am honored to be Your friend.” This struck me, and I pray that it will continue to humble me. I cannot fix Africa. If I cannot even understand myself, how can I single-handedly solve the world’s problems? When I wrote these lyrics and realized that I cannot solve the social problems of the world, I was filled with joy. I cannot fix this world, but Jesus will make all things new someday!

I finished the song with an open heart and some Spirit-led improv that is not included in these lyrics: “You’re calling me to Africa/ You’re calling me to Africa/ You’re calling me to trust You, Lord/ So I’ll gladly follow You/ resting in Your hope.”

—–

John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.  You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’  He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.  [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.

-John 3: 27-30, NASB, the Word of the Lord, thanks be to God.

Beauty Week: Giving up Guys

My floor held Beauty Week this past week. Every girl who participated gave up something dear to herself with the intent that she would see her true beauty because of God’s image in her. Many girls fasted makeup, a few gave up looking in mirrors, some gave up sweets, one temporarily quit baggy sweatshirts, and another resisted asking about whether her clothing looked perfect every day. One of the things I fasted was initiating conversation with guys.

I decided that if a guy talked to me, I could converse with him, but I could not start the conversation. There is something special about having male friends, something I cannot place, but I know that my desire for attention from them is often sinful. I realized that I was not secure in God’s love for me and that I looked for that attention and future affection in guys instead of in Him. Going into beauty week, I was convicted to give up seeking this attention from guys, even though I knew it would be difficult.

In fact, day one was awful. It had only been a day, but I could barely stand it! This proved further how much I idolize guys. God is gracious, however, and he allowed me to converse with one of my best friends named Samuel since it was in the context of a discussion with another friend.

Throughout the week, I was able to have many regular chats with my guy friends after class, before chapel, and in passing because they said hello and asked how I was doing. In this respect, the week was normal. Nevertheless, I was unable to text or call Samuel to ask if he could hang out, and I could not visit him at work on Friday as I have taken to doing. I could not text or mail some of my other friends to say I was praying for them or to send them a Bible verse. I also could not ask them various questions about what was going on in their lives, and I was frustrated by this.

I evaluated my week on Wednesday night and realized how much I appreciate my guy friends. I am so grateful for Josh Fort, Daniel Yoon, and Samuel Kim, to name just a few. As I reflected on the first half of the week, I was warmed by remembering a past conversation with Daniel when I had visited him at work, a normal occurrence, and he had said he appreciated my visits to him.

In my Wednesday night reflections, I also realized more of my intentions when I seek attention from my guy friends. My dependence on them has been unhealthy. God calls me beautiful, He loves me, He knows what He is doing, and He is all I need. Why do I turn away from Him and to guys so often? That being said, I felt ready for the week to end. I thought I had learned my lessons and wished I didn’t have to continue the fast for the rest of the week.

After Wednesday night, I gave up much of my resolve. On Friday afternoon I purposefully broke my fast. I saw Samuel come out of class, and I waited for him and exchanged a few sentences with him for a minute before our paths split. While our brief chat calmed my ridiculous fears that our friendship would dissipate after a week of not talking, I broke my commitment to Beauty Week by deciding to approach him to talk. I tried to convince myself that it was a good thing; he looked haggard, and a good friend would certainly ask how he was. Yet I went out of my way to do so, and I know I was actually being selfish. My insecure and auditory self wanted to hear his voice to reaffirm what I know is a solid friendship. The guilt of breaking my signed commitment to Beauty Week overshadowed the comfort I received from speaking with my male friend.

Looking back on Beauty Week, I wish I had depended on Christ Jesus instead and had not broken my commitment. I am grateful that Jesus has forgiven me, however! I need not dwell in my guilt any longer but must continue to run to Jesus. He is the one Lover and friend that will never, ever fade away from His beloved people, and I will thank Him both now and into eternity.

To conclude these ponderings on Beauty Week, I shall simply add one more thought: I often felt as if I had to ignore males during Beauty Week. In this time period, I realized that interacting with males is fine, good, and normal. God made both males and females for a reason; we need each other. Having male friends is a blessing from Him, and I thank God that He has altered my perspective so that I can appreciate platonic male friendships more.

I encourage you, readers, to fast something you love for the sake of growing closer to God and for your health. I would not have chosen to fast on my own, but signing a commitment alongside many other girls and maintaining accountability with them throughout the fasting period greatly assisted the discipline. Thus, fast joyfully and in community so that you can personally grow more intimate with the God of the universe who gave up everything to be with you.