Go to church long enough and the same topics and scriptures are repeated. If they use the lectionary it is roughly every three years or so. At most churches it is somewhere between 3 and 5 years…except around Christmas and Easter, they are repeated annually. Rarely do you hear a good sermon about Jael driving a tent stake through her enemy’s skull. Pity…it would make a terrific children’s musical. <Tongue firmly in cheek>
So regardless of whether or not you care for a particular passage of scripture, if it is “popular,” you will hear it over and over again.
So yesterday my number was up. The scripture was one of my former favorites. I memorized it back when I was in Bible Quiz. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
<side note: I checked my spelling of strengtheneth…it was right. I have a King James brain. Actually looking at chapter 4, I used to have the whole thing memorized. But my brain jelly is not what it used to be.>
So, back to my story…Phil 4. This was my all time favorite scriptures. It was my motivational mantra. Any unpleasant tasks, conversations, interviews, public speaking, you name it; this scripture got me through it. I would repeat it over and over as a chant. It got me through many binds. It was pure force of will with JC backing me up.
But now I associate this scripture with my fall from grace. It was the day of Ethan’s birth. We had just gotten the news about his imperforated anus and his right leg was shriveled like a flipper. He was rushed off to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Jenn had to go back to her room because she was still paralyzed from the epidural. She was beside herself, but she wanted me to check on our baby.
I was escorted back to where his incubator was. They told me I could touch him through vent holes. I took a deep breath. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!” At first I just patted his back and head. Then I gathered all of my strength and will. I firmly clutched his right foot. I visualized a constant current of lightning surging through my body. This boy was going to be healed. He was going to be whole. I focused all my power on this simple prayer for healing. “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENETH ME!!!” “In the name of Jesus be healed.” I lost all track of time. I was here. It was now. I have heard about miraculous healing all of my life. This was MY time. This was the place. I was going to spend the rest of my life telling others of the miracle that Jesus had performed that day. IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.
…but nothing happened. Except Ethan’s leg got kind of sweaty.
I have failed. I lacked the faith. But how could that be??? I did have the faith! I did damn it!!!
I felt myself sink into a deep hole from which I have never fully emerged. Paul could do all things…Ben could not.
I miss that Ben. I want absolute assurance. I want to know that the power of God courses through my body. But if I may mix the metaphor…like Icarus, I crashed back to earth.