Friday, March 20, 2009

Heart-shaped shingles

Today’s Reading: John 21:1 (NIV)

1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.

Good morning!

During one of His many appearances after the resurrection, Jesus suggested a fishing trip along the Sea of Tiberius with the boys. Jeff and I visited Tiberius when we traveled to Israel. It is a beautiful place; from the hillside, one can see land in the far-off distance. Tiberius runs along a 32-mile shoreline by the Sea. It is a great place to go fishing, and, as we walked along the water’s edge, we watched many people doing just that.

This is the place where folks come to heal their hurts from the daily grind. It has become Israel’s premiere vacation spots, where one can relax and enjoy a slice of the Father’s amazing creation. You cannot help but be recreated in such a lush surrounding. Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed, I close my eyes and remember the beauty of Tiberius and how the sunlight sparkles across the water. Did you know this some say from a aerial point of view, that the sea is shaped like a harp?

The disciples must have been emotional wrecks. I can only imagine their fragile state of mind and how completely confused, elated, exhausted and exhilarated they felt. How do you explain the resurrection to a total stranger? How would people who never knew this amazing man in the flesh know Him now in His risen state? They had the privilege of walking with their Lord for three amazing years, only to see His flesh torn and broken as He hung suspended on a cruel cross of torture. Then, when they thought all had been lost, Jesus did what He said and He rose again! I imagine every nerve ending in their bodies had been frayed during the trauma of the moment. They needed some healing time away from the crowd; they needed a little one-on-one with the Lord.

I was stepping out of the shower preparing for my work day when I first noticed it. Tiny clusters of blisters raised and reddened, running along my right arm. I immediately recognized the virus; it lay dormant in my body for years after having chicken pox as a child. Shingles has a way of rearing its ugly head just when you least expect it. The virus attacks nerve endings, inflaming them and causing severe and unrelenting pain. It feels a lot like a hot poker jabbing at your flesh constantly. On a much smaller scale, I wondered if this physical agony is like that of the intense pain magnified one thousand times over as my Savior suffered at Calvary. I never thought I’d have a real appreciation for what it feels like to have someone step on your last nerve. This week, I’m learning just what that feels like in the flesh.

One of the patches on my wrist has taken the shape of a heart. Only God would allow me to experience the pain and joy of heart-shaped shingles. If, in one small way, I can be reminded of the suffering my Savior endured to save me from sin, then I can learn to rejoice even in this most unusual circumstance. I’ve never been tattooed, but I think I may end up with a heart shaped scar after all. It is a love mark, daily reminding me that my Savior has been there and done that.

I've decided to take a little fishing trip with my Lord. The order of business this weekend is to rest, read, and take my anti-viral medications. A nice long stroll by the sea with my Redeemer is where you will find me. And I know His Sonlight will heal my body and soul.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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