For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
(Psalms 139:13-16 NIV)
The last few weeks I have been reflecting on how much I (we) take for granted. This past month our church hosted almost 3 dozen homeless women as part of a city-wide ministry called CARITAS (Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter). On one particular night, a young woman called me to let me know she needed shelter. At first we feared she would be denied because no one could find her paperwork and part of our agreement, as a host church, is to hand the ball to, and follow CARITAS protocol and mandatory guidelines for admittance. At first it appeared there was “no room at the inn,” and our compassionate team worried she might be turned away into the hot summer night. After jumping through a few hoops the young woman was finally admitted and welcomed in. She joined our other guests, receiving a hot meal and shower, air-conditioned room and a cot to lay her head. She also received encouragement from our volunteers, who were joyful and relieved she was allowed to stay. As I drove back to my comfortable home from church, I couldn't imagine someone waiting at my door to make sure I had crossed all my Ts and dotted all my Is in order to qualify and get in from the heat, just to get a hot meal, shower, and place to lay my head.
In addition to my (our) relative wealth, this month also reminded me how much I (we) often take our health for granted. Last week, for the first time in almost two months, I walked without the use of a cane or wheelchair after rupturing a disc in my back following a sports’ injury. The nerves leading from my spine to my legs were affected and I basically lost the use of my entire right leg. In addition, I lost almost 20 pounds as my appetite and strength waned, and my muscles’ atrophied from lack of use. After weeks of exhausting physical therapy, a couple of steroid epidurals shot into my back and some meds to control inflammation and nerve pain, my body started to respond, and the majority of medical professionals involved, agreed my progress had allowed me to avoid surgery (at least for the time being, and under the condition I act my age when it comes to pushing the limits of my six decade old body). The doctor told me that if I behaved myself, my body should absorb most of the damage and essentially heal itself. I remember thinking, my Lord is right (Well duh!), “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” but as I also reflected on that young homeless woman and our other guests hoping to make better lives for themselves, I am well aware that I am not more fearfully and wonderfully made than any of them. I am not more fearfully and wonderfully made than the thousands of folks who have fled their country in distress and dire straits, hoping to enter mine. I am not more fearfully and wonderfully made than any of God’s children whom Jesus called “the least of these.” I am not more fearfully and wonderfully made than the unbelieving people who need to know the love of Jesus Christ. I am, however, fearfully and wonderfully made to make a difference, and so are you. God bless.
(Bloggers addendum – The Apostle Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8 NIV) Yeah, we definitely take a lot for granted. God bless.)