My Papa is like Jesus’ cousin. Pretty sure. They’re just that close.
Of all the visitors that came to hospital, even leaving their own Christmas Day gatherings to come and console my family, he was the most memorable. Well, he and my sister Stephanie. I hadn’t seen her in a while, and her crying was just different somehow… her eyes more sad.
Papa was different because he actually didn’t stand over me in tears. He didn’t have the same look of fear I saw on the other faces. If anything he was in the mode of his soldier days… on a mission.
“Grandbaby,” he said, “I have something to tell you.” By the look in his eyes, it was clear the message he was about to share would be an important one. And it was. Little did I know then, it would change my entire belief system. And anyone knows, when you change what you believe, everything in life follows suit.
“I know that you know Jesus died for your sins. But did you know that He also died for your sickness?”
The words made no sense.
He came closer, kneeled next to me, and continued, “I need you to see this.” He opened the bible and read a lot of words. He does that. It’s kind of his thing.
“…and by His stripes we are healed.”
Seven words. Seven words I remember from what he read, as if they were spoken louder than all the rest. There was a mystery to this sentence that embodied suffering and hope all at the same time.
I did know about Jesus and the cross. A friend told me about God in high school. I had moved to the small town of Childress from the big city of Dallas. We talked different, dressed different, she actually went to every class – it was a whole new world for me. And while at times I mocked her and her friends for some of their cheesy Christian ways, I also saw something different in them. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until one day it clicked.
Two things changed my belief system back then. Peace and unconditional love. I had never known these for myself, but I saw them in my new friend. She seemed to live in peace, as if she had experienced some kind of unconditional love that gave her a freedom to be herself; and she acted different. I had always lived surrounded in chaos for one thing – and second, in every relationship I’d ever known, love always came with conditions. Peace and unconditional love were like unicorns to me. It sounded too good to be true. But after a handful of blatant “NO”s to her offering to share her God with me, I eventually weighed my options and decided to give up ultimate control of my life that I’d always had (seeing as how that wasn’t working out all that well) to a God I could not even see – for the chance of experiencing that peace and that unconditional love – if even for a moment. It was risky. My first real leap of blind faith for sure… But I’m stubborn, I had to see for myself. I’ve never regretted that decision.
My belief system was about to change again. He died for my sickness? I knew Jesus died for my sins. That worked out well for me, to say the least. While I didn’t understand the whole “… and by His stripes we are healed” – from my death bed perspective, it sure sounded like it could be good news for me.
Papa said he didn’t want me to believe the doctors or anyone else for that matter. “You read this book, grandbaby, it has all the help you need to fight this. It will tell you exactly what you need to do. You don’t listen to anyone else, they’re all going to have days of doubt. You may see it on their faces from time to time. But you don’t doubt. You have faith.”
Hebrews 11:1 says
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Faith. Right. Here we go again with that.
It sounded like a tough fight was about to go down and I was standing in one corner of the ring.
I thought about how crazy it all sounded.
I thought about all my goals and dreams and hopes that were dying. I thought about my beautiful family and the daughter I’d never held.
Now again, I was supposed to give all the control up to a God I couldn’t see.
But what choice did I have? My options were few. I chose life.