Out of the Cage
Today's blog post is written by Jeff Cook, one of our Christ Church members.
“Is your last name, Snidvongs?” asked the well-meaning nurse at the hospital.
“No, that’s my friend, but she couldn’t keep her appointment with the doctor, so I took her place instead.”
“How do you spell your last name?” she inquired.
“Whose last name?” She held up the admittance slip, which showed my Thai friend’s name.”
I felt my face begin to flush with heat and frustration.
“Do I look like I’m Thai?” I snapped and lashed back. This dialogue went back and forth for several minutes.
I sensed I was becoming mean and unkind, and I felt bad about it. I’m sure the medical staff, having to wear a mask all day and dealing with patients and the pervasive illness that resides in hospitals, would have welcomed a breath of fresh air. What I gave them was far from fresh, it was harsh and rude. I was not an image-bearer of our Lord. Instead, I bore the image of what is perishing.
I left the hospital that day, and the wash of my left-over irritability drained from my face like dirty dishwater. The truth is, I am powerless to stop this pandemic.
I am resigned to watch the unfolding of a global pandemic from the cage, which is my home. I flick from one news channel to the next as I watch nations and people looking for blame, political leaders scrambling to cover their tracks of failing to act more quickly as the virus breaches their borders and its people. I watch the agony in people’s faces as they recant how their loved one died alone. Not able to tell them they love them, not able to hold their hand, they died alone.
As time slipped on, I watched masses of people bursting out of their cages like a prison break long overdue. Anger, confusion, agitation, and fear became pervasive—the stuff one sees in a movie.
Shut off and shut out, what can I do? How many more YouTube videos can I watch? Netflix? How many more things can I Google? I even resorted to watching my favorite childhood TV sit-coms from the 1960s, hoping to be reminded of better days. As I watched, it occurred to me that all of these actors are dead—one more thing to Google.
I found myself starting to slip into the mire and quicksand, like so many I watched on the news. To mix my metaphors, it was then, a light bulb of living water emerged within me. I can be an image-bearer of Jesus, especially in these strange and troubling times. It is who I am. By the power of his indwelling spirit, I can show kindness, goodness, and gentleness.
The church in Corinth had a boatload of problems, yet Paul called them the church of God sanctified in Christ and called to be his holy people. However, they were far from being God’s image-bearers. They were still imaging their pagan culture and behavior. Paul set out to remind them who they genuinely are-and to start acting like it. A word aptly spoken, I thought.
In my mind, I began to visit the empty tomb. I meditated on what happened during those few days. God absorbed all the darkness, fear, violence, and all that mars his creation, even death. A turning of the ages happened-new creation burst out of its cage, and God became king. And with that, the triune God invites me to join him in making all things new. I am not alone. He equips me with his indwelling spirit. I suppose He knew I couldn’t do it with my own strength-even though I try often.
It is my wish that during these strange and troubling times, if you should find yourself acting irritable, frustrated, and afraid, like I did that day at the hospital, go to the tomb of Jesus and find yourself a place to sit silently nearby. It’s still empty. Talk with him and feel the lift of his indwelling spirit within you and know, He will keep you firm to the end as you eagerly await his appearing.